Writers must interact with students — Prez Mahama

BY: Edmund Smith-Asante

President John Dramani Mahama has suggested that schools regularly invite writers to share their thoughts and works with students to inspire them.

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“Our writers should regularly be invited into our schools, talk to students, share their works and thoughts with them and let our youth grow up knowing their writers who so much influence their thoughts knowingly or unknowingly,” he said.

 

In his address to open the 22nd International African Writer’s Day (IAWD) and Conference, read on his behalf by Mr Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, a Minister of State at the Presidency,  President Mahama said physically connecting with writers was one sure way to inspire students to hone their reading habits and writing skills.


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He said “not only should we read books written by our writers for our people, we should see them while they are alive, touch them and feel them, connect with their humanity from which spring their acute sense of self-awareness, purpose and the dilemmas of reality, which writers are so endowed with.”

The three-day IAWD conference, which was organised by the Pan African Writer’s Association (PAWA), on the theme “Celebrating the life and works of Chinua Achebe; the coming of age of African Literature?” is being attended by members of the 52 national writers’ associations in Africa and also writers from the Diaspora.

 Chinua Achebe’s works

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Commenting on Chinua Achebe’s works, he said they “mirrored the challenges of societal integrity, cultural sovereignty and the dilemma of self-awareness and self-confidence in us as a people.”

He urged the writers to care enough about Africa to dare to do something about the continent’s destiny as Achebe did; to dream and weave narratives of reality in Africa’s efforts to confront the deeds bedeviling the continent’s security and progress.

In a statement read on behalf of the Achebe family, a son of the late prolific African writer, Prof. Chinua Achebe, Dr Ikechuku Achebe, said while the acronym PAWA was a fortunate one because it reflected Chinua Achebe’s engagement with the dynamics of power and its relationship with literature, the one who wields the power should not use it against the powerless.

“Power is serious business and writers’ associations the world over, especially in Africa, play a much-needed role in providing protection to the powerless and freedom of expression, protections that Chinua Achebe held to be very dear to the development of society,” he said.

 No longer at ease

Delivering the keynote address on the topic “No longer at ease”, the Ambassador of the Republic of Congo to France, Mr. Henri Lopes, stated that with over 15 novels to his credit, Chinua Achebe became more than a sociologist whose impact was felt  across Africa to become an international writer whose books are used globally.

The Secretary-General of PAWA, Prof. Atukwei Okai, said this year’s conference was devoted to the life and works of Chinua Achebe.

He said holding of the conference followed a decision at an OAU conference of ministers of education and culture in 1991, to establish the birthday of PAWA, November 7, as International African Writer’s Day to be celebrated across the continent,’’ to allow our people, a moment of thought within which to reflect on the contributions of writers of Africa to the development of our continent.”