Pa Gya, A literary Festival In Accra was a pleasant surprise and a much welcome opportunity for us to take our activities offline and into the real world. We joined hundreds of book lovers and literary enthusiasts at the Goethe Institut in Accra from October 20 – 21 for the first edition of the festival.
The festival kicked off on Friday, October 20 with over a dozen publishers (and creators), some indie others opposite of indies exhibiting and selling their intellectual properties. There were several panel sessions and workshops, from blogging to publishing over the course of the festival.
The most important of these was the panel on comics, moderated by Squid Mag team member, Sydney Kofi Asare. This panel was held on the second day of the festival in what we wrongly assumed to be a big enough space. The panellists, Comfort Arthur, Bright Ackwerh, Sector Fiadzigbey and Daniel Tawia Quartey (Leti Arts) shared their thoughts on the comic medium in Ghana, how it’s perceived, employed and consumed. They also shared their concerns and hopes for Ghana’s comic industry as well as their experiences creating art and telling stories.
Based on the interactions and feedback from this panel, I can safely say that there’s a hungry enough audience in Ghana for comic book storytelling. Listen to a recording of the panel at this link. The recording was provided by Efo Sela who was also at the festival.
In my experience, comic books aren’t taken very seriously here. They’re either reserved for children or only employed as political satire in newspapers. Seeing how festival goers – both young and old – interacted with our stand, however, speaks of a market, albeit small, that is ready to appreciate the craft of comic books and go beyond the newspaper satire or comics are for children trope. That the festival organizers, Writers Project of Ghana and the Goethe Institut gave us a shot to experience this first hand is something we’re super thankful for.
The festival was graced by the likes of established writers such as Ama Ata Aidoo, Chuma Nkwolo and Nii Ayikwei Parkes, as well as contemporary Ghanaian writers such as Efo Dela and Moshood Balogun.
We made some awesome new friends – rare gems really – who we hope to work with sooner or later. Our favourite gems are Delali Avemega and Nana Awere Damoah. Delali Avemega is the creator of the Lulu Series (pictured above), a children’s illustrated storybook about a little girl Lulu, and her adventures with her dog, rooster and grandma. Delali illustrates with his mouse. Look out for a feature/interview with him. Nana Awere Damoah is an author with an infectious passion for literature, written or illustrated. The latter is where we’re most excited about him.
Squid Milestones at Pa Gya: A Literary Festival In Accra
We printed our first pull-up banner and first set of stickers! Whoop whoop. You have no idea how exciting that was for us. Our banner simply read:
Do you speak African comics, games and animation? We do and you should too!
Truer words have never been spoken. We happily shared our stand with Setor Fiadzigbey to market him and Kobina Ofei’s Lake of Tears comic.
The highlight of the 3-day festival for us was the love, fervour and undeniable surprise we were blessed with each time people interacted with our stand. People always asked if the comics we had on display (and for sale) were made in Africa by Africans? This was either followed by “I didn’t know Africans made comics” or an observant criticism of similarities between Western and Japanese comics. Another interesting and recurring critique was the seeming lack of authenticity in some of the available comics. That’s something that creators should look into in their future endeavours.
Pa Gya: A Literary Festival in Accra was a smashing success and we can’t wait to be at the next one. We are forever grateful to Writers Project of Ghana and the Goethe Institut Accra for our first major offline activity.