Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Two Years of Promoting African Literature


I started blogging in September 2008 with the objective of posting my poems for discussion. What I learnt from this is that people found it hard to objectively critique works, thinking that the author would be hurt. Well, what I did was to dedicate the blog to Haiku. Thinking about it later, I realised that it is too self-serving to post only my poems on the blog. Then on May 11, 2009, I set myself a goal to read only African Writers (fiction and non-fiction) and to promote literary works by Africans. This stems from the fact that most of my readings had been of western, non-African authored books. And it was time to balance the scales.


With this goal came my entry into the Ghanaian literary scene. I had been writing for ten years before making this decision, but it was more of working on the periphery, doing my own thing without learning from others or meeting other writers to share ideas and works. However, my first official post on this blog was a poem of mine titled From New York to Chorkor - an Optimal Time Path. I posted this poem because I had not read any novel to review, neither had I any idea of how I was going to promote African Literature. As fate would have it, Nana Nyarko Boateng, a poet I had seen on youtube and searched for on facebook, invited me to the book reading of a newly launched book by the Ghanaian writer, Ayesha Haruna-Attah, titled Harmattan Rain.  As the first book-reading I attended, I didn't know what to expect. I blogged about the event here on June 16, 2009. Even though, it was about the event, I took it as my first book review, a quasi-review. Before that I had written 'Musings from No Easy Walk by Nelson Mandela'. Working and reading, I saw that if the blog is to be active I needed other subject matters to blog about, so I added social, political and literary articles and its combinations. The first article was on a social issue dealing with the perennial flooding in Accra titled Notes from Our Actions.

During this period, I started buying African-authored books. I was also contacting friends like Martin Egblewogbe and Nana Nyarko Boateng, on the best way to writing book reviews and it wasn't until July 6, 2009 that I would write my first book review. My first book review, senso stricto, was Amma Darko's Not Without Flowers. That year, 2009, I reviewed a total of 24 African authored books covering authors such as Ayi Kwei Armah, Chimamanda Adichie, Chinua Achebe, Camynta Baezie, Kojo Laing, Martin Egblewogbe, Henry Ajumeze, Buchi Emecheta, J.M. Coetzee, Marilyn Heward-Mills and Ben Okri. I also reviewed books about Africa and Africans but not written by African such as V.S. Naipaul's A Bend in the River and David Rooney's Kwame Nkrumah, Vision and Tragedy.

To make the blog lively and to bring the authors closer to my readers, as best as I could, I introduced interviews. My first interview was with Martin Egblewogbe, author of Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God - an eclectic collection of mind-boggling short stories.

The transformation has continued with time and today May 11, 2011, ImageNations is considered one of the foremost blogs on African literature. The blog was listed as one of the best 40 blogs for African Studies students. Through this blog, I have met and interviewed some wonderful authors, met a lot of readers and have inspired others to go into book blogging. Gradually, my objective of promoting African Literature, and vision of transforming this blog into the first stop for materials on African authors are being achieved. I have been contacted by several e-zines who would want me to write for them but for the lack of time I would have accepted them all.

So far I have reviewed 65 African Books and interviewed 19 authors. My review of Healers by Ayi Kwei Armah was published in the peer-reviewed journal The Criterion, A Journal for English. My interview with Nana Awere Damoah was published in the Business and Financial Times and another with Tendai Huchu was published in The Standard in Zimbabwe. I introduced Reading Challenges to push me on this journey and eliminate procrastination. The first challenge was Top 100 Books to be read in five years. Books in this challenge includes non-African authored novels. I did this because my knowledge on Literary Fiction was limited and I needed this to enhance my reviews. The next challenge was the Africa Reading Challenge, which is aimed at reading books from different parts of Africa. Africa is made up of 54 countries; however, if one is not careful one would only be reading books from a few of such countries as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. Conscious effort is required to read wide, even in Africa. The third and final challenge is the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa Region Winners Reading Challenge.

Though I have reviewed several non-African-authored books, the focus would continue to be on African writers. ImageNations would continue to promote African Literature and hope to be around for a very long time. However, this blog would not have been successful without my readers. Thank you all for reading and commenting. The first comment I received was from Abena Serwaa of Ramblings of a Procrastinator in Accra. She was the one who introduced me to Chimamanda; thanks Abena.

32 comments:

  1. Congratulations from a newbie to this world of blogging, hopefully this will be one of many anniversaries. & I will continue to learn about a whole world of writers featured here. Again congratulations & great respect
    Parrish.

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  2. Good to know the history behind ImageNations. I am happy you're one of those few who inspired me to start blogging. Hurray! ImageNations!!

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  3. So thankful for peeps like you! Happy birthday to your blog & many many more!

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  4. @Parish thanks. Many more would come. Life permitting.

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  5. @Geosi... Thanks. I hope we get many more book bloggers in Ghana. You doing great. Currently, I am on my way to the Western Region for a three-week research and data collection.

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  6. @Nana I enjoyed your book reading. It was fun. Hope you doing great.

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  7. What strange and unpredictable paths we follow! Congratulations on the anniversary.

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  8. Congratulations for everything!

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  9. @Amateur Reader yes strange paths. Things change with time.

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  10. @Stefania thanks. I even forgot to say that yours is the first blog i followed. I learnt a lot from your blog. In fact the first template was cared on yours. Even now I still have traces of yours on mine like the 'all time favourites'. Thank you Stefania.

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  11. Congratulations on your second blogoversary, Nana! I only recently discovered your blog, but I love visiting and getting to read your thoughts and interviews. They take me out of my comfort zone and into new areas of thought. I hope you are here doing this for a very long time!

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  12. Congratulations Nana, your blog is truly a great resource for African books. I know I've read several books that you've reviewed and also recommended to others. All the best in the coming years.

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  13. And continue to inspire and educate us all. You already know that I LOVE your blog.

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  14. As someone who trained in Language and Literature, and a writer too, I cannot pretend to not know what worth this blog is. Myself, I have been sleeping on starting a blog solely for the reviewing of African poetry. I might do it after all.

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  15. @Zibilee, God willing I would be here for a long time. I am happy when my blog and reviews lead people to read or to know more about African writers. Thanks for visiting... hope you keep coming back.

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  16. @Myne, thanks. Glad my reviews have made you read some other African writers.

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  17. @NYA, and you know I LOVE yours too

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  18. @NYS, and I would be one of your followers. Thanks bro.

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  19. Congratulations! You're one of my favorite bloggers and I'm thrilled to see you reach this milestone!

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  20. Congratulations on such a fantastic and successful journey Nana. I'm so glad you're here doing what you do - love reading your reviews and interviews and following your posts. Keep it up!

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  21. @Marie, thanks Marie. You've been there for me. I remember you as one of my early readers together with Stefania and Trixie. I have also enjoyed your pithy, yet in-depth reviews. I have learnt a lot from you all.

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  22. @Amy, thanks. It's been quite a journey. If I look back I wonder how I read all those books even when I have been complaining of lack of time. I have learnt that if one has the passion, one can do a lot of things.

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  23. well done on two year Nana here is to many more ,all the best stu

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  24. @Stu, thanks for being there. It would have been almost nothing without know I have people to read my reviews.

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  25. Happy blog anniversary! I have enjoyed your reviews and appreciate that you have helped broaden my reading horizons.

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  26. Happy birthday to your blog, Nana!I've learnt a lot from ImageNations, and enjoyed finding the parallels in our experiences!

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  27. @Anna, thanks to you too. I also learnt some things from you,like the grouping of reviews.

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  28. @Niranjana, thanks... your comments have helped me too.

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  29. Afehyia pa, Nana. I'm so thankful and grateful for what you do here.

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  30. I'm a little late to the party but congrats on the anniversary, from a new follower!

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  31. Thanks MissBwalya... and welcome to ImageNations

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