In October we were lucky enough to be involved in the second ever edition of Pa Gya! A Literary Festival In Accra. For Marcelle Akita, this was somewhat of a home-coming as she is Ghanaian, but for Afrikult. as a whole, it was a new adventure! With the support of the Miles Morland Foundation we were able to facilitate a workshop and book club at the three day long event. Writers Project Ghana worked in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Ghana to deliver a really exciting and packed programme of discussions, readings, performances, workshops and book launches.
We started our adventure by taking part in the weekly radio show on Citi FM hosted by Martin Egblewogbe, co founder of Writers Project Ghana. This was Afrikult.’s first ‘on air’ experience and we really enjoyed it as we got to talk about what we do and the work we would be doing with the festival.
We ran our workshop Writing and Rioting: Women’s Use of the Pen on the afternoon of Friday 19 October, focusing on Nawal El Sadaawi and Balaraba Ramat Yakubu. This is one of our favourite workshops to do, mainly because we love introducing participants to inspirational women. This was quite an intimate session so we were able to spend a really good amount of time exploring these women’s literary works. In the evening we attended the opening ceremony which was a performance and in conversation with some of Ghana’s literary greats, Professor Kofi Anyidoho and performance poet Nana Asaase.
As our contribution to the festival was on two different days this meant we got to enjoy some of the other panels! For instance, there was a really interesting discussion on the future of African languages in which Nigerian historian Ibekwe Chinweizu dissected the controversial statement from famed Pan Africanist W E B Dubois in 1958 that Africans should ‘abandon’ their African languages in favour of ‘world languages’ such as English and French.
Our Poetry Meets Pan-Africanism book club was held in the evening of Saturday 20 October, and we had thirteen eager poetry enthusiasts ready to jump into the texts that we presented them with. This book club focuses on the poetic contributions of women to Pan Africanist thought, as too often you find that more is known about the male champions of Pan Africanism. So we take this opportunity to look at poetry (in translation) from Nontsizi Mgqwetho (Xhosa), Noémia de Sousa (Portugese), Annette M’Baye d’Erneville (French) and Nayyirah Waheed. This book club is always interesting as participants tend to bring their own thoughts and knowledge of Pan Africanism so everyone, including us, learns something new!
We were so thrilled to be part of Pa Gya! A Literary Festival In Accra. We can’t thank Elizabeth Johnson and Martin Egblewogbe, the powerhouse duo behind the coordination of the festival enough for inviting us to be part of it.