Ghana International Book Fair: acquisition trip to Accra

On 2 November I flew to Accra to visit the 13th Ghana International Book Fair, in order to buy books and other materials (journals, DVDs) for the ASC Library. I also went to the University of Ghana in Legon (which has an Institute of African Studies), to several bookshops and to Assembly Press, the printer of official government publications.

When I arrived at the Trade Fair Centre, no books could be purchased as yet; the official opening ceremony was yet to begin. A number of official looking people were sitting in party tents put up in front of the entrance, and I was guided to a seat in one of the tents. During the multiple speeches of, amongst others, the Deputy Minister of Education and the second woman of the country - the wife of the Vice President, who seems to be very active in promoting reading among primary school children - I learned that at present only 20 percent of the children of Ghana leave school with the ability to read. The government wants to increase this to 80 percent in fourteen years. Indeed a lot of school books were presented at the Book Fair. Slogan of the Fair was 'A reading nation is a winning nation', and this year’s theme was centered on Publishing and E-services. Besides school books,  there were quite a number of religious (mostly Christian) publications and so-called 'motivational books' ('How To Plan Your Life And Do What Works'). Academic publications were also present.

I nearly missed a very interesting new publication: a biography of Hilla Limann, who was elected president in 1979, but whose government was overthrown on 31 December 1981 by Jerry Rawlings. While I was in a taxi during a traffic jam, I suddenly heard someone on the radio talk about this book that had apparently been launched at the Book Fair the day before! This event had not been announced anywhere, so I had missed it. A limited number of copies were supposed to be available at EPP bookshop, which I had already visited earlier that week. So I returned to EPP, but the book wasn't there. It might arrive the day after. So I phoned the next day, and yes, to my relief it was waiting for me, put very nicely in a special matching bag!

Unfortunately the University of Ghana Bookshop was closed due to a renovation, but the Annex was open and offered a curious combination of items to be purchased. The university celebrated its 65 years anniversary in 2013 with the launch of the University of Ghana Readers Project, a series of publications which gives an overview of the contributions of Legon academics to the development of thought on critical issues for Ghanaian and African societies. Soon to be discovered in the ASC Library!

Elvire Eijkman