Book Launch: Java Hill: An African Journey

Ghanaian writer and associate Dean at the University of Alabama, Thaddy P. Manus Ulzen is launching his newly published historical novel, Java Hill: An African Journey tomorrow, Saturday, 27 April 2013 at the College of Surgeons and Physicians in Accra (near the Ridge roundabout).

The launch is expected to start at 6PM with a brief history and overview of Elmina-Java Museum and a documentary on the history of Black Dutchmen titled “Footsteps of the Brave”.

Java Hill: An African Journey tells a story of the conflicts and relationships between Africans and Europeans in Elmina (Ghana); and the journey of one family through the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, colonialism and the challenges of post-independence Ghana.

In this almost biographical work, the inter-relations in the Dutch colonial period from 1637 to 1872 in West Africa are brought to the fore. “The progression of an African family through 10 generations and four continents from its 18th century Dutch roots, through the Transatlantic Slave Trade, British Colonialism and the era of African independence to the present come to life in this book.”

The story also highlights ethical and moral that arises out of racial, gender and class dilemmas and individuals negotiate their way through these different historical periods.

For more information on the book, click here.

About the Author

Born in Tarkwa, Ghana, T. P. Manus Ulzen is the oldest of five children. His parents were both educators. He grew up in Bolgatanga, Wa, Wenchi, Accra, and Takoradi in Ghana till he was 12 years old. Though, greatly interested in liberal arts, he chose medicine as a career and graduated from University of Ghana Medical School at the age of 22, becoming the youngest physician in Ghana at the time.

He has been on the faculty at the University of Toronto, East Carolina University and is now Professor and Chair of Psychiatry and BehavioralMedicine in the College of Community Health Sciences at the University of Alabama where he is also Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed academic publications and has over 50 op-ed publications in Ghanaian newspapers and web –portals which are political and cultural commentaries.

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Announcing the Golden Baobab Prize for African Children’s Literature 2013

The Golden Baobab Prize has announced its call for writers to enter its prize for African Children’s Literature for 2013 with some interesting shifts in the traditional categories of Junior Category (literature for ages 8 – 11); Senior Category (ages 12 – 15); and the Rising Writer prize for writers under the age of 18.

It appears the usual categories of Junior and Senior are off the table this year, with only the Rising Writer category maintained. Instead, we have Best Picture Book Manuscript and Best Early Chapter Manuscript. The deadline for submission this year is 14 July.

While this may come as a surprise to many, and perhaps a disappointment to industry connoisseurs with strong leanings to writing itself, a cursory look at recent programmes implemented by the Foundation provides some answers. In the past year, Golden Baobab has organised workshops for children’s illustration in Ghana particularly. It is only expected that the prize may seem to be shifting towards that direction.

When we put this to Golden Baobab, it appeared we guessed right: “This is the new direction. Golden Baobab is focusing on enthralling literary content for African children (below the age of 11) because we believe that the greatest impact on children’s imaginations occurs at their earliest stages.”

Golden Baobab

The benefits may not be apparent at the moment, but children’s illustration is one section of the literary industry that may be dying. A literary prize that focuses on children’s illustration is therefore much welcomed. Indeed, it may not be a total loss for writers in the children’s literature category or upcoming ones. The prize may in the end force, albeit mildly, writers and illustrators to collaborate more. In the end, children will benefit from the good of both artistic worlds.

The prize accepts work for children submitted via email and in English by any African citizen irrespective of their current places of residence or location. To submit on the Golden Baobab website, please click here.

The Golden Baobab Prize, an initiative of the Golden Baobab Foundation (a registered NGO in Ghana), was established in July 2008 with the grand aim of soliciting and promoting creative writing works for children and young adults. The prize also aims to identify talent for the next generation of African writers. As an annual event, the prize is awarded to African writers of children’s literature and young adult fiction.

golden-baobab-prize

Yari Yari Ntoaso: An International Conference in Ghana on Literature by Women of African Ancestry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

The Organization of Women Writers of Africa (OWWA) and New York University (NYU), in collaboration with the Ghanaian Mbaasem Foundation and the Spanish Fundación Mujeres por África (Women for Africa Foundation), will present Yari Yari Ntoaso:

Continuing the Dialogue – An International Conference on Literature by Women of

African Ancestry. This major conference will put writers, critics and readers from across Africa, the USA, Europe, and the Caribbean in dialogue with each other in Accra, Ghana, from May 16-19, 2013.

More than a dozen emerging and established Ghanaian writers and scholars, including Ama Ata Aidoo, Amma Darko, Ruby Goka, Mamle Kabu, Esi Sutherland-Addy and Margare Busby will speak about their work on topics ranging from identity, to the craft of writing, to literary activism. These authors will be joined by other well-established writers such as: Angela Davis (USA), Tess Onwueme (Nigeria), Natalia Molebatsi (South Africa), Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro (Puerto Rico), Sapphire (USA), Veronique Tadjo (Côte d’Ivoire), Evelyne Trouillot (Haiti), and many others (a list of participants is below). Local organizations participating in this exciting gathering include the Pan-African Writers Association, the Ghana Association of Writers, and the Writers Project of Ghana.

Yari Yari Ntoaso will consist of panels, readings, performances, and workshops, and will be devoted to the study, evaluation, and celebration of the creativity and diversity of women writers of African descent. Yari means “the future” in the Kuranko language of Sierra Leone; Ntoaso means “understanding” and “agreement” in the Akan language of Ghana. Fifteen years after OWWA’s first major conference, Yari Yari Ntoaso continues the dialogue of previous Yari Yari gatherings, connecting writers, scholars, and readers.

The conference program includes an entire panel devoted to Ghanaian literature, a Saturday morning “storytime” for children, and workshops for adult and youth. All events are free and open to the public, and all Ghanaians interested in literature – whether as readers or as writers, both youth and adults – are encouraged to attend. Register at http://owwainc.org/gettingthere.html. Most events will be held at the lovely facilities of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (No. 54 Independence Avenue, near the Ridge Roundabout) in Accra. A draft program is available in the “Gallery” section of www.indiegogo.com/owwa

Participants have received national and international awards from Ghana, Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Tobago, England; Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, the USA, and other countries. They have been poet laureates and are provocative bloggers. They teach at – and have received degrees from – universities in Ghana and around the world; and they have also created and work with grassroots community organizations.

YYARI

Why now?

So far, the 21st century has witnessed the creation or reestablishment of women’s and writers’ organizations throughout Africa and its diaspora. Often these organizations both support and are staffed by emerging writers or those whose writing has yet to receive international recognition. Yari Yari Ntoaso marks this moment and provides an opportunity for these organizations, as well as individual writers and scholars, to share information and to build international networks.

About The Organizers

Founded in 1991 by African-American poet, performing artist, and activist Jayne Cortez and Ghanaian writer and scholar Ama Ata Aidoo, the Organization of Women Writers of Africa, Inc. (OWWA) establishes connections between professional African women writers around the world. OWWA is a nonprofit literary organization concerned with the development and advancement of the literature of women writers from Africa and its Diaspora. OWWA is also a non-governmental organization associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI).

The Institute of African American Affairs (IAAA) at New YorkUniversity was founded in 1969 to research, document, and celebrate the cultural and intellectual production of Africa and its diaspora in the Atlantic world and beyond. IAAA is committed to the study of Blacks in modernity through concentrations in Pan-Africanism and Black Urban Studies.

Mbaasem (“women’s words, women’s affairs” in Akan) is a foundation created by Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo to specifically support African women writers and their works through addressing problems that all Ghanaian and African – but especially women – writers have to struggle with, including the absence of appreciation of the essential role creative writing and other arts play in national development, and women writers’ diffidence in showcasing the results of their creative efforts.

The Fundación Mujeres por África is a private organization. It was founded with the intention of becoming an exemplary body in Spain and internationally with its commitment to sustainable economic and social development, human rights, peace, justice and dignity for people and especially for women and girls in Africa.

Jayne Cortez was the driving force behind the first two Yari Yari conferences. Yari Yari: Black Women Writers and the Future (1997) and Yari Yari Pamberi: Black Women Writers & Globalization (2004) were the largest events of their kind, putting hundreds of women writers and scholars of African descent in dialogue with thousands of people, and resulting in two award-winning documentaries.

In late December 2012, amidst organizing this third conference, Cortez passed away. The conference organizers are presenting Yari Yari Ntoaso in her honor. Described by The New York Times as “one of the central figures of the Black Arts Movement,” Cortez often performed with her band The Firespitters, was identified as a jazz poet, and was honored with the American Book Award and many other accolades.

CONTACTS:

Kinna Likimani

Mbaasem Foundation

mbaasem33@yahoo.com

Rosamond S. King, Organization of Women Writers of Africa

OWWAYariYari@gmail.com

Jaïra Placide, New York University

Institute of African American Affairs

jp2050@nyu.edu

Book Discussion at the University of Ghana: Government Inspector

The Writers Project of Ghana‘s “Book Discussion Club” has selected the play, Government Inspector by Russian writer Nikolai Gogol is the Club’s book for the month of April.

The discussion will take place on 23 April 2013, from 5PM for an hour, on the University of Ghana campus, Legon.

The Club meets each month to discuss a selected book; it then by concensus, chooses another book for the following month as well as a date.

To join the club, kindly email the Coordinator of the programme, Edzordzi Abgozo at: edzordzigh (at) gmail.com on the exact venue on the Legon campus, as well as any other detail concerning the Club.

The Writers Project of Ghana is a non-Governmental Organisation founded in 2009, with operations in Ghana and the United States. They provide platforms for Ghanaian writers, as well as promote a literary culture in the country.

Cover of "The Government Inspector (Drama...

Cover via Amazon

Ghana Voices Series Author of the Month: Martin Egblewogbe

Ghanaian writer, poet and author of Mr Happy and the Hammer of God and Other Stories, Martin Egblewogbe, has been announced as writer of the month and reader at Ghana Voices Series.

The Ghana Voices Series is a monthly series of reading organised by the Writers Project of Ghana in partnership with the Goethe Institute Accra. The reading is scheduled for the last Wednesday of each month.

For the month of April, the reading will take place on 24 April, 2013 and will commence from 7PM to 8PM at the Goethe Institute, 30 Kakramadu Road, Cantonments (near NAFTI).

Martin is a widely published poet and his works have appeared in anthologies and a plethora of online literary magazines.

His collection of short stories, Mr Happy and the Hammer of God and Other Stories, which was re-issued by Ayebia Clarke Publishing in 2012, was described by American writer Laban Hill as “clever and ingenious” and “well-written and wildly entertaining” by Ghanaian literary giant Ama Ata Aidoo. If you are as yet to pick up a copy of the book, another literary big-wig kofi Anyidoho says of the collection: “You [will] hold your breath for the next surprise”

Martin will be reading from his collection as well as some selected poems. The Ghana Voices Series is free and open to the public. We strongly urge you to make a date. For more information, visit the website of Writers Project of Ghana.

Front cover of Mr Happy and the Hammer of God

Front cover of Mr Happy and the Hammer of God

Three Manuscripts from Ghana Make Kwani LongList

Three Manuscripts from Ghana have made the Longlist of 30 titles in the Kwani? Manuscript Project. The list that appeared on the official website of the Kwani? contained the following titles from Ghana:

Ramseyer’s Ghost (Ghana)

Saturday’s People (Ghana / US)

The Mad Brigadier (Ghana)

The list had submissions from nine other African countries. We thought it best to pick out a few titles we deemed amusing and connotative. So here we go: They are Coming (Zimbabwe / US); Pilgrims from Hell (Tanzania); Carnivorous City (Nigeria); Becoming God (Nigeria); The Haggard Masturbator (Kenya); Diary of a Criminal (Botswana).

For the complete list, please click here.

The Kwani? Manuscript Project, is a new one-off literary prize for unpublished fiction from African writers. The shortlist will be announced at the beginning of June 2013 and the three winners at the end of the same month.

The Managing Editor, Billy Kahora is quoted on the website of the Kwani? as saying “This longlist begins the actualization of a long-held Kwani? ambition – to build a significant novel series of new original voices across the continent.”

The project was launched in April 2012 with a call for submissions. The deadline was extended to 17 September 2012. The Kwani longlisting panel is made up of writers, editors and critics from East, West and Southern Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. The call by Kani Trust received  over 250 qualifying unpublished fiction manuscripts from 19 African countries.

Photo credit: The Kwani? Manuscript Project

Photo credit: The Kwani? Manuscript Project

African Image – Baasa Kro

African Image – Baasa Kro is an art exhibition and poetry performances by DK Osei Yaw, sponsored by the Goethe Institute. The exhibition will be hosted at the art exhibition facility Afrocentric in Bubuashie, North Kaneshie (behind the Accra Academy High School) on 30 May, 2013.

DK, arguably one of the finest spoken word poets and young writers in Ghana, is well known for his pioneering work in staging non-commercialised slam poetry at various social spots around Accra – from Chelsea’s place, Jazz Tone to Smoothy’s at Osu. Famous among all is his Gari Fortor poetry slam.

CONCEPT

 

The African Image – Baasa Kro is an attempt by DK to widen and shift the poetry paradigm in Ghana. In an email from DK to Creative Writing Ghana, he says about the exhibition: “the familiar way of vocalizing written words on stage shall rather be relegated to the background of the presentation, and instead, the dynamic ways in which poetry imparts into the lives of people shall be brought to life to the audience through an art installation that has 3 major elements.”

 

Quite extraordinarily, he continues: “In other words, in this presentation, instead of hearing the voice of a poet standing on the stage, you would see art installations lending their voice to the words of the poet, being spoken in the

four corners of an exhibition space instead of a raise platform of the podium.”

The event is being supported by Alliance Francaise, Foundation for Contemporary Art, Apple Pie Ltd. Weekend Globe, Fashionista GH, TRACE.

 

African Image – Baasa Kro is clearly a collision of art forms on the fringes of experimentation hardly witnessed so openly in Accra recently. It opens an unfamiliar channel for many other poets and writers to think about their art across platforms and genre. We have seen poetry merge with the narrative forms and the stage – not poetry and actual painting or exhibition.