The Ghana Association of Writers (GAW) should work towards establishing a Literature Development Fund to promote excellent works that shape society and globally market the rich identity of the Ghanaian.
“Literary works and critiques have forever been the foundation and bedrock of our society – a lead tool for shaping, questioning the status quo, and inspiring the actuation of humanity,” Mr. Senyo Kwasi Hosi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD), who made the recommendation, explained.
Mr. Hosi, also a poet, was delivering the keynote address at the Fifth GAW Literary Awards, held in Accra, at which 28 persons were rewarded for their sterling works, achievements and contributions to literary development.
The theme for the Anniversary is: “Honouring Literary Excellence”.
Mr Hosi said the Fund would also help writers leverage technology to market the talents of both outstanding writers and contemporary artistes globally for their worth, with its attendant benefits to the nation.
He explained: “Legends like Jerry Hansen, E.T. Mensah, Amakye Dede, Awurama Badu, Kojo Antwi, Papa Yankson, Gyedu-Blay Ambuley, Koo Nimo, among others, have produced classic literary pieces in the form of music which ought not to be ignored.
“We see the same with some contemporary musicians like Obrafour, Manifest, Sakordie and Kofi Kinaata.
“The depth of their works must be studied and celebrated for they also awaken the consciousness of humanity.”
He pointed out the failure to optimise technology and contemporary media, making Ghana less visible on the global stage.
He, therefore, urged GAW to set up an online publishing firm, reviewing literary works, publishing them and liaising with various international platforms to promote Ghanaian literature.
The lower cost of online operations, he explained, provided a perfect opportunity for the GAW to leverage its brand into a powerhouse, maximising social media and driving visual and audio-visual pieces of the skills and talents it nurtured.
“If the youth have challenges with reading, then we should make them watch and listen. Our story must be told,” he emphasised.
To promote excellence in the industry, he suggested that GAW instituted a seal of quality, just like the ‘New York Times Bestseller’ list, which must be accompanied by a thorough review of works that assured quality.
He, however, lauded the growing number of Ghanaians writing and producing memoirs, saying the trend should be encouraged.
“We have been a country of oral history and as a result so much history, knowledge and depth have been lost to unrecorded oral storytelling,” he noted.
“Writing memoirs as evident today is a mark of hope… “We must do this even if it means encouraging ghost writing, because it will enable us to capture the valuable and priceless stories many Ghanaians do have and that can help shape the course and nature of our future. ”
He cited the likes of Nana Awere Damoah, a chemist a chemist making strides in the arts, saying this was inspiring.
“The exploits of Aisha Haruna Atta and her contemporaries provide us with hope that someday we shall influence the African and global literary space again.”
He advised GAW to look out for the old landmarks of excellence to guide the course for future accomplishments.
He noted in recent times many writers were identifying themselves as authors, saying it was important for GAW to develop systems to unearth talents and stem mediocrity.
“We urgently need to redefine who a writer is in a manner that defines quality, and I see no better home to host that seal of authority and excellence than right here at the Ghana Association of Writers.”
For his part, Mr. Kojo Mattah, former Managing Director of the ARB Apex Bank, urged GAW to use the anniversary to reflect the state of the country and its citizens regarding reading and writing.
The immediate-past President of the Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana (CIMG), who was the Guest of Honour, said in Ghana, like other developing nations, majority of citizens were apathetic towards reading.
He described the situation as a scary spectacle among the youth and students, saying: “These are the category of people who should consider reading as a very important life building process.
“Within schools, whether basic, secondary or tertiary, students only read when there is examination.
“This attitude stems from the fact that, the relevance of reading itself has not been identified and thus that intrinsic motivation towards reading is a missing desideratum.”
Mr Mattah also expressed concern about the negative impact of social media on the spelling of the youth.
“I wonder what will happen in the next five years if this trend continues. I will not be surprised if examiners are unable to read and understand exam scripts.”
Mr Mattah, therefore, commended GAW for its collaboration with the Ghana Education Service and other stakeholders to arrest the situation.
They include opening up literacy clubs in senior high schools in all the regions; and the GAW Sunday, held monthly, which features poetry recitals, storytelling, book reading, spoken word performance and music.
Mr. Francis Gbormittah, the President of GAW, paid tribute to the originators of the Awards, saying the Association was committed to stimulating literary creativity among writers.
The Association, he said, was also committed to protecting and advancing the interests of Ghanaian writers, fostering the development of good literature in Ghanaian and foreign languages and encouraging the study, documentation and preservation of the nation’s oral traditions and cultural elements.
The recipients of this year’s eight non competitive awards include Professor Awo Asiedu of the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, Prof Esi Sutherland and Prof Edward Collins.
The competitive awards cover categories such as Novel, Poetry, Short Stories, Children’s Storybooks, Creative Nonfiction, Spoken Words, Ghanaian Language Special Awards, Science and Mathematics, and Special Writers.
Madam Doris Kuwornu, who chaired the 2021 Awards Committee, urged corporates and the business communittmy to support the work of GAW to succeed in the national interest.