The Karavan Magazine on World Literature, Swedish, interviews the President of the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW), Francis Gbormittah
How has your writing/the writing of GAW’s members/the GAW activities been influenced by the corona pandemic?
Since Ghana reported its first case of the corona virus in March 2020, a lot of businesses in the country have taken a nose dive while others have seen a rise. A report by Dcode’s Economic and Financial Consulting (https://dcodeefc.com/infographics) shows that potential losers of money during this period are construction and real estate, financial services, education amongst others. Oil and gas, E-Commerce, ICT and medical and security services were listed amongst the potential winners. GAW has members from the different backgrounds listed above who write as a hobby. Therefore, with the corona virus affecting their primary source of income, the motivation to write has been affected, as their primary concern is now to find alternative sources of income. However, for other members, the lock down and slow movement of things as a result of the virus has accorded them the chance to finish manuscripts and clear up work they had to do for the association. The role of writers includes documentation of occurrences. Therefore, for some, the corona virus and the issues surrounding it has provided them with inspiration for writing and this is a positive influence because documentation is key in the policy making processes and also, the virus has exposed some defects in Ghana’s health, education, transport and sports sectors, for example. In sum, the corona pandemic has influenced members of the Ghana Writers Association positively and negatively.
How has the period affected the literary scene in your country or the place where you work from?
During the three week lock down in Ghana as a result of the corona pandemic and thereafter, the reading culture of Ghanaians improved. Although there are no studies to prove this assertion, this deduction is being made from the social media discussions that went on about what books people were reading, how they had not read in a while amongst others and this improvement was good for the literary scene as a whole. It proves that the culture of reading is not dead. Although the association has some books on sale, most of the books that were purchased during the period were not from the association’s office because it was closed.
Most purchases were e-copies and even hardcopies were purchased remotely and delivered by courier services. The association has plans of incorporating technology into the literary scene and these plans had to be halted with the coming of the pandemic.
Also, prior to the corona pandemic, the Ghana Association of Writers met at a designated venue about twice in a month. Virtual meetings were not part of the association’s activities so the association could not meet as often as it did before in order to observe the COVID-19 social protocols. The place where we work from-administratively and for functions, has been closed down for a while.
How do you look upon the future- what do you think will happen in the world of literature and publishing?
From the observations made by the association, it is safe to say that people still value the place of literature in their personal development and so the future is promising. There are writers churning out literary pieces very often in Ghana and so more publishing houses are being opened. Majority of the new writers are quite young so the probability of them writing a good number of pieces in their life time is high. If the quality is as good as the volumes they are likely to produce, then the future is truly bright. Both worlds will therefore have to inculcate modern techniques and tools in the process of producing, marketing and selling of their pieces in order for it to reach the target market successfully.