From a collection of books held in Brussels and London then shipped to her mothers house in Kumasi and now based in Accra. This is a dream come true for reader writer Sylvia Arthur (born in the UK to Ghanaian parents) who returned home to Ghana in 2017 and set up the library formerly known as Liberia Ghana and now the Library of African and the African Diaspora. With over 4000 books written in English representing writers from Africa (44 countries), Caribbean, Europe, UK, America, Canada covering aspects of fiction, non-fiction, politics, biography…etc. I had the pleasure of meeting Sylvia on Saturday 19th September during a library tour that showcases just a fraction of the books whilst the rest are in archive
We commenced at the front compound named Makerere Square. Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda in 1962 held an African writers conference in 1962. Here writers met to discuss what it meant to be an African writer. Especially in a time where many African countries regained or campaigning for Independence. A question was proposed: –
Can you be an African writer if you are writing in a Language that is not in an African language?
The first conference was held in Paris called the International Congress of Negro Writers and Artists in Sept 1956. So, Sylvia named the front compound Makerere Square based on the first one that took part on African soil. Around the building are pictures of writers. The right walkway is named Walter Rodney Way and the left walkway named Marielle Franco Way.
Before entering, we all read The Tenderness Manifesto by Mbella Sonne Dipoko (1936-2009)
On entering you could automatically feel the words of wisdom from a neat shelved space utilized very well with not just books but images of writers and posters too.. The shelfs are separated into World Writers (Non Black writers), Black British, African American, Caribbean and African Writers. There are many books of British Black writers – which I recognized, even some I have but not read – ie White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Of course, a section dedicated on Ghana and Ghanaian writers.
On the ground floor was also a room dedicated for children’s books.
Off the hallway is a room called Special Collectors containing rare and out of print books, with original series collections. A room for film screenings about writers, documentary, books turned into film.
The library is private with 2 types of adult membership. Where you can either borrow 2 books or borrow 4 books with full use of facilities and events. The library also caters for public events of book readings, poetry nights, film screenings, discussions, signings, guided tours and children’s activities. For more information: www.loatad.org
Knowledge is Power
Upstairs is a 3 bed accommodation available for dedicated writers whilst they are researching. The rooms are named after Ama Ata Aidoo, Ayi Kwei Armah, and B. Kojo Laing.
There is so much knowledge one can gain from reading as could tell in the passion of Sylvia as she presented during the tour, capturing not just what the book enclosed but about the writer and cross referencing with events during that era.
It was a great learning venture with likeminded people. Celebrating the contributions of African writers into the literacy world which do not often get global recognition.. – so glad I eventually got to view. Now I really need to make time to read and research as part of my journey.
Bless Sister E (Naa Dzamah)