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South African envoy launches anthology of African literature

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu
 Grace Jeanet Mason, South African High Commissioner to Ghana, launching the book
Grace Jeanet Mason, South African High Commissioner to Ghana, launching the book

The South African High Commissioner to Ghana, Grace Jeanet Mason, has launched a comprehensive anthology of African literature, titled: “The voices that sing behind the veil”, at a ceremony at the Goethe-Institute in Accra.

Edited by historian Ivor Agyeman-Duah, the anthology had been considered as one of the most comprehensive from Africa and its Diaspora for years.

It has 56 stories from 15 African countries, the United States, St Maarten in the Caribbean and the United Kingdom.

The 684-page collection is published in collaboration with the Accra-based Pan African Writers Association (PAWA).

Contributions to the book came from distinguished and award-winning writers, academics and emerging talents, including Zaynab Alkali (Nigeria), Ben Okri (UK/Nigeria), Molefi Kete Asante (US), Wesley Macheso (Malawi), Ogochukwu Promise (Nigeria), Grace Maguri (Zimbabwe) and Athol Williams (South Africa).

Others were Martin Egblewogbe (Ghana), Esther K. Mbithi (Kenya), Mary Ashun (Ghana), Wale Okediran (Nigeria), and Chikumbitso Ndaferankhande (Malawi).

Launching the book, Ms Mason described the short stories collection as “truly Pan African” in content and nature.

She stated that the high quality book was not a surprise in view of the high status of the collaborators involved in the project.

While noting the High Commission’s good relationship with PAWA, she promised to continue to support the association in its bid to promote African Literature.

Intellectually stimulating

The Secretary-General of PAWA, Dr Wale Okediran, thanked the editor and publisher for producing a remarkable and intellectually stimulating book which had already caught the attention of many academicians and writers after its brief public presentation at a recently concluded international conference by PAWA, the Nigeria Academy of Letters (NAL) and the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) in Nigeria.

He urged the publisher to produce a soft back edition which would be affordable to students and scholars.

Difficulties

The editor, Mr Agyeman-Duah, mentioned how difficult it was for him to take a final decision on which stories to use in the book out of the many brilliant submissions he received.

That, he said, was a positive reflection of the state of African literature.

He said the book would also be launched in some other African countries in the course of the year.

A Nigerian historian and the Jacob and Frances Sanger Massiker Chair of the University of Texas, Austin, Prof. Toyin Falola, said: “These extraordinary stories, mesmerising and beautifully written are surely connected to a past that remains with us, the experiences of day-to-day living and the limitless imagining of our futures.”

He said the discerning editor combined stories that “communicate appreciation with comprehension, and presence with essence.”