‘Publish or perish’

BY: Lawrence Darmani
Mr Kosi Kedem, a former NDC Member of Parliament for Hohoe South and the Author of the book, speaking at the launch
Mr Kosi Kedem, a former NDC Member of Parliament for Hohoe South and the Author of the book, speaking at the launch

If you had the opportunity to make a proposal to the Speaker of Parliament, what would you propose? Well, Mr. Kosi Kodem, former Member of Parliament (MP) for Hohoe South, had such an opportunity, and his proposal was quite unexpected—but not surprising.

Let me paraphrase his request, which he made at his recent book launch: “Please, Mr. Speaker, could you and parliament set up a foundation to assist former and current MPs to publish their memoirs?”

The full report is in the November 13, 2021 edition of the Daily Graphic.

His request was unexpected because not many people have a high regard for books to make them appeal to the Speaker of Parliament to support book publishing.

But his request was not surprising because, having authored his own memoirs, he knew about the challenging terrain of book production and the need for such assistance.

About publishing, my friend Abu had a nice slogan when we were growing up in our writing pursuits many years ago. The slogan, born out of a goal to succeed in our writing interests, was “publish or perish!”

In other words, to him, when it came to writing and publishing, it was a matter of do or die!

Somewhere along the line, however, Abu did not “do” his writing as he had pledged, and yet he did not die! Other pursuits occupied his attention and dimmed his desire to write and publish his works.

“Perish” in the slogan does not mean “die.” It means a failure to pursue and achieve a life goal. And if that life goal happens to be writing and publishing, you would have lost the opportunity to contribute to world literature if you fail to write. In that case, your dream has perished.

Real problem

What is the real problem—writing the manuscript or getting it published? If parliament establishes the publishing fund, would the lawmakers make time to write their memoirs?

I wish they would, for, indeed we need all the memoirs that can be written from the wide variety of experiences of Ghanaians, home and abroad, from all the sectors of our life.

But the truth is that there is a yawning gap between people’s desire to be authors and their willingness to pay the price to enable them to realise their dream. The critical fact in this discourse is not yet the printing of books but the development of content.

Indeed, publishing is costly due to the laborious process publishers go through from receiving the manuscript till the book is printed and distributed. But there would be no book if there was no manuscript.

How many professionals—MPs, academicians, educationists, business people, the clergy, journalists, agriculturalists, public administrators, physicians, and other opinion leaders—are making the time to write in order to endow our nation with their rich experiences?

Therefore, the crucial aspect of the publishing process is writing the manuscript. And I believe that after working diligently to produce a manuscript, most people would look for the funds to get it published—just like serious politicians find the resources to fund their campaigns.


I totally support the call to set up a foundation to fund publishing efforts. And I would advocate further that some of the funds be applied to the writing of manuscripts.

Not many people who have experiences to share also have the time, the skill, or the discipline required to produce a manuscript.

There is, therefore, the need to hire young and talented writers, journalists, and researchers to assist in producing publishable manuscripts.

Some clergy and Christian leaders are doing well writing and publishing their works, but there is still a huge need for more locally-produced Christian literature for discipleship, church life, and nurturing. For there is always a deeper growth in the life of Christians who read Christian books than those who don’t.

And preachers who encourage their congregations to read Christian literature enhance their own teaching.

Writing and publishing are critical to academic pursuits. That is why PhD holders are tied to writing and publishing.

If you say you have in-depth knowledge in your field of study, show it by research and writings, and, by all means, publish your discoveries!

This is especially true for lecturers who impart knowledge to students. Professors who fail to conduct research and publish their findings are impoverishing their field. And, indeed, they are “perishing” academically.

“Publish or perish!” says my friend Abu, but out-do him by writing to fulfil your dream.

Despite the challenges, those who are determined, and who sweat to produce their manuscripts, will do everything possible to get the manuscripts published for the good of our contemporaries and for posterity.

The writer is a publisher, author, writer-trainer and CEO of Step Publishers.

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