Saturday 23rd November marked in important day in the literary sphere in Ghana as Booktique Ghana (an online bookstore) and e-Ananse Library partnered to launch the Project Lit Community at an event dubbed “Just Read it” Book Meetup. The Book Meet up which was held at the e-Ananse Library University of Ghana, played host to five Ghanaian writers and four Nigerian writers.
The objective of the event was to officially launch a grass root literary movement targeted a promoting the love of reading and providing culturally sustaining books to young adults in Ghana. Speaking at the event, the Co-owner of Booktique Ghana, Abena Maryan stated that main goal is to empower the future generation as readers, writers and leaders as well as read, discuss and celebrate books that affirm the value of young African adults.
The event featured robust conversations on the books, Spoken word poetry and networking.
The authors were Selassie Mensah (Ghana), a social worker and writer, author of the novel Padiki, Camouflage and Binetti, Nnamdi Oguike (Nigeria), author of the collection of short stories, Do Not Say it is not your Country and winner of the 2019 Miles Morland Scholarship for Stories. Bisi Adjapon (of Nigerian and Ghanaian origins) writer, former international affairs specialist and author of the novel, Of Women and Frogs and Sylva Nze Ifedigbo (Nigeria) writer and Op-ed columnist, author of the novel, My Mind is no Longer Here were hosted.
The event also featured authors, Marjy Marj (Ghanaian-American), author of the novel, the Shimmigrant and Olukorede Yishau (Nigeria) journalist and author of the novel, In the Name of Our Father.
The Just Read It Book Meet up also featured technology in literacy by providing a platform to discuss online publishing in Ghana. WorldReaders presented multiple Burt Award for African Literature winner in Ghana, Ruby Yayra Goka and Akua Serwaa Amankwah winner of WorldReader “Inspire Us” competition for a book reading session.
The audience greatly enjoyed performances from Stevie Adu-Mensah, author of It’s Cold oo, William Du Bois Yaw Sakyi Kumi a Ghanaian spoken word artist, photographer, slam poet and mixed media visual artist, popularly known as Koo Kumi and a performance by Lamer the Poet titled “Letter to the gods” Femi Morgan, a writer and arts curator, author of Renegade wowed the audience with his bold yet beautifully articulated poems.
Salasie Mensah talked about rape and the process of forgiveness. Members of the audience spoke eloquently about the Ghanaian society and the culture of silence that it asserts to protect public exposure and family pride.
Author of “Its Cold Oo” Stevie shared his experience in Sweden. His performance raised the issue on bullying in his book, It’s Cold O. Stevie said he had embarked on a school tour in Ghana and Sweden to talk about the ills of bullying. ‘We need to give the children a platform to talk–we have not had a conversation with the children’ he said.
Nnamdi Oguike captured the attention of the audience with his short story “The Prophet” from his book Do not say it’s not my country. His book is a collection of 12 stories in 10 countries. When asked about why he chose to write about life in different places and cultures, he answered” It is about what life does in different places but asserts the oneness of humanity. There are different places but there is only one sun that shines”
Marjy Marj, a Ghanaian-in-Diaspora who is the author of the novel, the Shimmigrant, a book about migrant life in the US urges writers to write from the readers perspective. When questioned on her writiting style, she stated that she was inspired Kwame Alexander, another respected Ghanaian writer. She tackled themes like marriage, economic hardship and identity, the indebted servanthood. In conversation with Marjy Marj, Bisi Adjapon said that income inequality has also contributed to the value placed on the human being in Africa. ‘You don’t need to have being on a ship to be a slave. You could be enslaved in your own country.’
Project Lit Ghana and its donor partners gave free books to all attendees and participants. The books included international best sellers such as The Hate you Give & On the Come up by Angie Thomas, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Becoming by Michelle Obama, Monday is not coming by Tiffany D. Jackson, Everything Everything by Nichola Yoon, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie among others
Engaging in Bisi Adjapon’s book “Of Women and Frogs’ aroused a riveting engagement on sex, sexuality and a coming-of-age sexual life of a young girl. Adjapon said ‘we are quick to stick labels on people sexual preferences in recent times’. She spoke about the culture of guardedness mete on girls. Olukorede, in conversation, added that the book explores the history of Ghana and the stereotypes on the different tribes in Ghana. He said ‘we should never gloss over those salient themes for its sexual explorations’. The book also bears upon prejudices even amongst Africans, in the book against Nigerians in Ghana, which led to the growing Afrophobia in certain African countries. Adjapon advocated that intermarriages between countries should be encouraged, she said ‘The farther apart the gene pool is the more intelligent you are–it had been scientifically proven’. The border shocks between Nigeria and Ghana and the scare, and the fear that foreigners will take over are unfounded’ she said. ‘Politicians always blaming foreigners. There are the ones who use those stereotypes that we have built against ourselves to win elections and perpetuate themselves in power’ Adjapon noted.
Femi Morgan, author of Renegade, Whispers and five other books of poems, sat alongside Olukorede Yishau, author of In The Name of Our Father, and Nze Silva Ifedigbo in a robust conversation on Nigeria’s corruption, creative process, and thematic directions. Femi Morgan said that he is inspired by the faux a cosmopolitan nature of the cities he had lived in Nigeria and his poetry is different from his personality because he is a recluse and quiet person while his poems have been described as bold and no-holds-barred. Olokode Yishua noted that his work was written a long time and has gone through several editorial fires. He said that he novel is explores the dynamics of power between the church and the state and the extended connections of corruption and crime amongst the poor. Nze Sylvia Ifedigbo said that his novel was written in a month. He has signed up with the Nanowarimo programme during his work break and had produced a first draft. His book which explores the economy of migration from within the country leveraged on the desire for young Nigerians to take flight by any means.
The event ended on a high note with pictures and book donations to the e-Ananse Library.
Written by Femi Morgan & Abena Maryann