The International African Writers Day
The 15th International African Writers Day will be celebrated throughout the continent tomorrow with workshops, symposia and poetry recitals.
The significance of the Day, November 7, every year, is to bring writers together to deliberate on issues, taking stock of their activities to see where they have fallen short, so they can make amends and work together towards a common goal.
In Accra, the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA) which is the umbrella body of all the continent’s writers’ associations, is playing host to writers from various nations.
The Day was set aside by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Accra in November 1989, during a constituent congress of PAWA. The congress’ theme was 'African Unity, Liberation of the Mind.'
Thirty-six African countries signed the Declaration of the Constitution leading to PAWA’s establishment.
In 1992 PAWA was accorded full diplomatic status in Ghana. Professor Atukwei Okai, a renowned poet, is Secretary-General of PAWA. In July this year, President J.A. Kufuor honoured him, among 781 personalities, as a member of the Order of the Volta. He has distinguished himself with meritorious service.
The President had at the ceremony asked Ghanaians to strive towards excellence.
Under Prof. Okai’s leadership, PAWA provides a forum for all African writers. This encourages the establishment and recognition of one national writers’ association in each African country.
It also defends freedom of expression for all writers and support protection of their work through the appropriate copyright laws and agencies.
It has also become a cultural institution supporting and contributing its quota to the moral, cultural and intellectual renaissance in Africa.
Since its formation, PAWA has organized and participated in many worthwhile initiatives including conferences and seminars attended by Africans and the international community, uniting writers from diverse backgrounds. For instance, from April 30 to May 1, this year, PAWA teamed up with UNESCO, the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture, Ghana Association of Writers, Ghana Book Publishers Association and the Copyright Administration to organise a workshop to celebrate The World Book and Copyright Day.
Also in April, this year, Prof. Okai held a meeting in his office with Mr. Paul Van Wijk, programme and campaign officer of Oxam Novib (who had paid a courtesy call on him), on PAWA’s special programme aimed at combating HIV/AIDS.
The programme aims at empowering writers to respond effectively to the challenges posed by the HIV pandemic.
At the PAWA headquarters in Accra today, the Association will hold its forth annual lecture at the headquarters. The theme is 'The African Writer and African Union.'
Professor Femi Osofisan, PAWA vice-president for West Africa, is the main speaker, and the function will be chaired by Prof Akilakpa Sawyerr, Secretary-General, Association of African Universities.
A cocktail reception will round off the activities on Wednesday evening.
The writer is Public Relations Officer, Pan African Writers Association.