GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books (part 3 – finale)

Welcome back to part 3 – the final installment of the series: GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books.

As a person of Ghanaian heritage, I enjoy discovering new Ghanaian writers and learning about our pioneer writers. Being a lover of African literature and literature of the diaspora, I find that Ghanaian authors and their work aren’t as popular as Kenyan, South African, Nigerian or Zimbabwean literature.

GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books is a series that highlights and celebrates various Ghanaian writers and their work. If we don’t celebrate our own, who will? I hope your TBR lists grow once you take the time to appreciate these writers and their work through the series. This is the final installment of the 3-part series and it’s NOT exhaustive by any means. The list is arranged in alphabetical order, of last names.

Note: Images were taken from Goodreads and the respective writers’ websites.

Ama Ata Aidoo

Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo is one of Africa’s foremost woman writers. She’s a feminist, poet, academic, playwright and novelist with many notable works under her belt! Her first play – The Dilemma of a Ghost was published back in 1966 and her debut novel – Our Sister Killjoy was published back in 1977. Aidoo received the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Africa) for her novel entitled Changes in 1992 and she’s the author of many more poetry collections, short stories collections and plays. Her works highlight women experiences like gender and power dynamics, Western influences on African women and women protagonists defying stereotypical gender roles in family and society. On March 16th of this year, the The African University College for Communication named its new creative writing center after this phenomenal woman- Ama Ata Aidoo Center for Creative Writing.


Kofi Anyidoho

Prof. Kofi Anyidoho is a prominent Ghanaian poet, literary scholar, cultural activist and educator. He’s published 5 collections of poetry and some of these collections are accompanied with audio of the poems in Ewe – his native language. Anyidoho has won many awards for his poetry like the BBC Arts and Africa Poetry Award, Davidson Nicol prize, the Langston Hughes award, Valco Fund Literary Award among others!


Ayi Kwei Armah

Ayi Kwei Armah is a highly acclaimed Ghanaian novelist, poet and pan-African. Armah’s work is known to critically examine moral integrity that exists between the past and present, with poetic energy. He’s best known for his debut novel – The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born which was published in 1968 as well as the epic historical novel – Two Thousand Seasons (published in 1973) which received mixed reviews and actually received harsh criticism from Chinua Achebe back in 1987. Last year I attended a talk that featured Ayi Kwei Armah and Ayesha Harruna Attah (who was featured in part 2 of this series) and he discussed his latest projects in hieroglyphics.


Kofi Awoonor

Kofi Awoonor was a phenomenal poet, literary critic and professor of comparative literature. He is the author of novels, plays, political essays, literary criticism, and several volumes of poetry like Rediscovery and Other Poems (1964), Night of My Blood (1971), The House By the Sea (1978), The Promise of Hope: New and Selected Poems (2014) just to name a few. Awoonor made it a point to bring his Ewe culture and ancestry as well as contemporary religious symbolism to depict Africa during the era of decolonization into his poems and other works. Awoonor passed away in the Westgate shopping mall attack in Kenya back in September 2013, but we (Ghanaians and other fans of his work) always make it a point to celebrate him and his great legacy during his birthday. This year on March 13th (his birthday) the hashtag – #Awoonor82 was dedicated to honoring the legend, who would have been 82 years old this year.


Joe de Graft

Joe de Graft was a well-known Ghanaian writer, poet playwright and educator. He’s best known for his play Sons and Daughters (1979) which encourages the youth to follow their dreams. He uses the play to inform Ghanaian youth that careers in medicine, business and law aren’t the only careers that lead to success and inspires them to find interest in the arts like music, dance, writing etc. De Graft is also known for his works Beneath the Jazz and Brass (1975) and Muntu (1977) and Through A Film Darkly (1979). He left a legacy with the launch of the Mfantsipim School (his alma mater) Drama festival.


Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi is a Ghanaian-American novelist who’s debut – Homegoing, has been receiving well-deserved praise ever since it was published last year. I absolutely loved Homegoing and I explain why in a personal book review I posted last year. But we’re still waiting for Yaa Gyasi to grace Accra with her presence ohhh! Hopefully she’ll plan a trip soon, so that Ghanaians can engage with her and her book at a reading.


Kojo Laing

Kojo Laing is a poet, novelist and educator. Laing is the author of the novels Search Sweet Country (1986), Women of the Aeroplanes (1988)Major Gentl and the Achimota Wars (1992), Big Bishop Roko and the Altar Gangsters (2006) and the poetry collection Godhorse (1989). His poetry addresses the themes of identity and alienation while his novels combine magical realism with political commentary. Some readers have described his debut – Search Sweet Country as reading a dream with intense vivid imagery and humanization of inanimate objects. Laing’s work is an absorbing experience I hope to encounter soon when I indulge in his debut.


Atukwei Okai

Prof. Atukwei Okai is a prolific poet, cultural activist and academic with many accomplished works and honors. Some of his works include: Flowerfall (1969), Oath Of The Fontomfrom and Other Poems (1971), Lorgorligi: Logarithms and Other Poems (1974), Freedom Symphony: Selected and New Love Poems (2008), Mandela the Spear and Other Poems (2013) as well as children’s books like – The Anthill In the Sea: Verses and chants for children (1988), amongst others!


Taiye Selasi

Taiye Selasi is a writer and photographer of Ghanaian and Nigerian descent who popularized the term Afropolitan, thanks to her 2005 (controversial) essay – Bye-Bye, Babar. Selasi’s writing explores our relationships to our multiple identities – intersectionalities, if you will. She’s most popular for her debut novel – Ghana Must Go (2013). I particularly enjoyed her TEDGlobal talk (2014): Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m a local.


Efua Sutherland

Efua Sutherland was a phenomenal Ghanaian writer, dramatist, teacher, scholar and cultural activist. For about 40 years, she was in the forefront of literary and theatrical movements in Ghana (from the 1950’s) and was a key player in pushing African performance to the university level. She was instrumental in founding various literary establishments like Ghana Society of Writers, the literary magazine Okyeame, the Ghana Drama Studio and the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Center for Pan African Culture (which is still in great shape in Cantonments, Accra). She’s well known for her works: Foriwa (1962), Edufa (1967), and The Marriage of Anansewa (1975). Find out more about Sutherland at the Mmofra Foundation – where children and culture connect, for which she is the founder.


Below are some HONORARY MENTIONS comprising of both budding and established writers of Ghanaian descent who you should definitely keep an eye out for. Click on their names to check out their writing portfolios, publications and/or websites:

  • Other YA writers: Nana Yaa Amankwa, Kwabena Ankomah-Kwakye, Adwoa Badoe, Elizabeth-Irene Baitie, Manu Herbstein, CNN Lokko.

The end of March is finally here, so the Ghana at 60| Our Writers & Their Books series has come to an end. A TOTAL of 75 Ghanaian writers (including honorary mentions) have been highlighted, as well as some of their work. It has been a pleasure sharing with the world our accomplished Ghanaians writers.

Food for thought: While I feel much pride in highlighting our Ghanaian writers, I also worry that most Ghanaians will never get the chance to read some of these authors’ work. Books by writers of African descent are pretty scarce here in Accra – several titles are either not sold in bookstores or they are super expensive so the average Ghanaian can’t afford them. Readers living abroad can get easy access to all of the works mentioned in this series, thanks to various online bookstores and several well stocked bookstores with African/Black fiction. But how about readers living in Ghana? How can works by Ghanaian writers be accessible to everyone and at affordable prices?

With the plethora of Ghanaian writers and books highlighted in this series, there is no excuse if anyone claims they don’t know (m)any writers from Ghana! I’d love to know who I missed (there are many more writers out there!) – kindly share other writers in the comments. And be sure to share this loaded resource with others, so they can indulge in Ghanaian literature as well.

Advertisements

41 thoughts on “GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books (part 3 – finale)

  1. I studied Changes (Ama Ata Aidoo) in University; I might be due for a re-read. I also have The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born but haven’t finished it yet. So many books, so little time; and sometimes you don’t meet a book at the right time and it has to wait until you’re ready for it (I’ve had some books like that in my life that have turned out to be favourites). Bookmarking to go through the others on the list (love posts like this)…that TED Talk, don’t ask me where I’m from; ask me where I’m local sounds interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know what you mean! Usually the books you hold off are the true gems, it’s so weird hahaa. Bibliophile probs- ‘So many books, so little time’ ha! I need to re-read Changes myself. Thanks for reading and appreciating the series! It’s appreciated 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really loved this series! I realised I knew just about a handful of Ghanaian writers. And concerning the availability of our writers’ books I totally agree- it’s a different dimension of work looking for them. And yes! I actually just bought ‘Lorgoligi Logarithms’!💃💃💃💃.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tsetsewa – thanks so much for always stopping by and appreciating this series! Its good to know other Ghanaians are into knowing more about their own writers :). Hmm, as for getting more affordable books in Accra, we need a revolution chale. In the meantime – omg, WHERE DID YOU FIND Atukwei’s Lorgoligi Logarithms?!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh wow, Kumasi of all places! Very good to know. I hope you review it once you finish! I may have to visit the Kingdom Books & Stationery branch in Osu (on the La road) again- they have lots of good books there too.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! It’s def a start. And those are the pretty popular, contemporary ones too so I guess those are more accessible. I hope you can read one or two or maybe five more featured in the series! Thanks for passing by, it’s very much appreciated 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great list there and I definitely added a few to my TBR, mostly Ama Ata Aidoo’s books. I liked synopsis of The Dilemma of a Ghost and Changes.
    I of course already had Homegoing on my TBR and I really need to get to it, and I’ve heard of Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so great, loved the other two series and this one is just as good, it’s sad that its so difficult to find local literature locally, I wish some outside publishers would resurrect some of these works and make them more widely known, or perhaps when some of the younger more international writers become successful enough they can champion these writers, and the upcoming.

    Thank you so much for going to the effort of doing this, I’ll be back here again for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Claire :). I’m glad you enjoyed the series! Yeah, its a struggle getting some of these great works. I wish some publishers WITHIN Ghana or Africa would resurrect some of these works – not the outside publishers. We need to invest in our own and take publishing seriously! We’re tired of the West capitalizing on our greatness. There are some great publishers around, but we need more so that these books are accessible to all. *sigh* hopefully soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Bravo, Darkowaa! Your ‘food for thought’ at the end got me. Tough one. From the side of the authors, it is also not easy to get our books in the outlets/bookstores. The local bookstores don’t purchase our books upfront as they do for the foreign books and manage most of us on ‘sale or return’ basis. And, then, even when sales are done, you got to chase them for the little they owe you, beyond the high rates of commission. Tedious! I have taken to using mostly online stores (ndamoah.storefoundry.com) and using contacts across the country.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! Thank you so much! *sigh* Selling books shouldn’t be this tedious, be it Ghanaian or foreign books. Its such a difficult dynamic – the relationship between local bookstores and local authors vrs. foreign books/ books written by authors in the Diaspora. How can this be changed? I believe your readings across the nation with other authors are making some impact, no? Do lots of Ghanaians buy your books via online store? I hear some readers shy away from using online as a way of purchasing because of the use of ATM cards and 419. *siiiiiigh*

      Like

      1. I get good sales through the online stores because there is the option of “pay on delivery”. When I ship out to customers directly via orders placed on WhatsApp or FB, they pay with mobile money. So there are ways to go around it. Things will change with time. Our readings are helping too.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank u for all the ghanaian writers u have included what an exhaustive list and they say we don’t write an oral traditional my foot!
    can’t wait to find and check them all out.
    we are just too humble we need to promote ourselves more -but your doing a great job so keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks ohh! I hope you get to read some of the works highlighted. The honorary mentions are a great bunch too! You can click their names to check out some of their publications

      Like

      1. Thanks for the reply and for following me!
        hope u like my blog. BTW, do u know of any U.K based African owned book shops online or physical where I can get these books or is it just amazon/good reads that have them?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m not sure where to find books in the UK, but any good online store like Amazon, AbeBooks, Book Depository, Thrift Books etc should hold all types of books – new and used. These stores have US and UK versions too.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s