On 22nd September 2021, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declared the city of Accra as the UNESCO World Book Capital for the year 2023. Accra therefore joins the prestigious global Network of World Book Capital Cities as the 23rd city (and the 3rd in Sub-Saharan Africa). Accra assume the title from 23rd April 2023 to 22nd April 2024. During that one-year period, many projects and activities to promote Ghanaian books, reading, creative arts and culture will be organised in Accra (and other parts of the country). The aim is to celebrate and promote the literary achievements and cultural heritage of Accra specifically (and Ghana in general), and in so doing, equip vulnerable and marginalised groups such as children, the youth, head porters (kayayei) and persons living with disability with reading, creative-writing and employable skills.
The entire programme is aimed at using books and reading to promote positive social change in the city of Accra (and the rest of the country). Accra has a large population of unemployed youth and adults who have little or no education; neither do they have employable skills. Some of these people are migrants from other parts of the country in search of non-existent greener pastures in Accra, who end up adding on to the city’s already teeming population and putting pressure on the limited resources and infrastructure. As a result, social challenges such as unemployment, truancy, teenage pregnancy, drugs and substance abuse continue to persist in Accra.
Given the opportunity books and reading present in educating and changing people’s mindset, the AWBC will use literature, books and reading to raise public awareness on these issues and encourage creativity among people in order to improve their economic circumstances. Ultimately, the increased reading and patronage of books will also help grow the book and creative-arts industry in Accra, and Ghana at large.
The objectives are to use books, reading, drama and theatre arts to:
- Increase public awareness and education on literature, books, and creative arts.
- Educate and equip the youth to develop their creative skills and abilities.
- Educate children and youth to abstain from drugs and substance abuse, truancy etc.
- Sensitise and empower the girl child against teenage pregnancy.
- Promote fundamental human rights and freedoms, particularly access to education and information through books.
The theme for the campaign is “Reading to Connect Minds for Social Transformation”.
As Accra welcomes both residents and visitors, it seeks to encourage everyone to read a book to educate, inform and entertain themselves. The knowledge acquired through reading will help transform minds, hence the theme, which is depicted by the logo below.
Logo and Meaning
The shows two people connected through a book around the globe with Accra (Ghana) as the centre of attraction. The various components are explained below:
- A globe highlighting the map of Ghana with the national colours.
This is to throw the spotlight on Accra (Ghana) specifically as it hosts the title year, to bring social transformation through books and reading.
- Two people on opposite sides of the globe reaching for a book.
This is a visual narrative that Ghana is ready to connect globally through books, to bring about the desired social change in Accra, Ghana, and the world at large. The person on the right, cladded in Kente (which is a regalia for royalty and a display of Ghana’s rich culture), represents Accra and Ghana. This person welcomes the other person on the opposite side (representing the rest of the world) to connect with Accra (Ghana) through books and partake in the rich Ghanaian arts and culture.
- The inscription, ‘Accra World Book Capital, 2023’ is an indication that Accra is the World Book Capital for 2023.
The slogan for the year is “Akwaaba, book a book’.
‘Akwaaba’ as a Ghanaian expression is to welcome a guest or people back home. After the ‘akwaaba’, the person is offered water to make him or her feel at home and to signify the pleasure of the host in seeing the person. Linking this tradition to the slogan, Accra seeks to welcome the world to the city and encourage people to read books and connect with other readers through the mind of the author for social transformation.
The slogan therefore is to use the hospitality which Ghanaians are known for, to encourage people in Accra to commence a practice of offering books to their guests and reading books with them and other members of their household.
The year-long programme of activities will contribute to people, particularly children and the youth, cultivating the habit of reading not only for educational purposes, but also for recreation or leisure, and skills development. The programme of activities entails six different projects, each of which has a different focus to help achieve the objectives.
Six main projects will be executed during the title year. These are:
Project 1: Reading Promotion – transforming minds and promoting life-long learning through books.
This project will be realised through a series of reading promotion activities and literary festivals in Accra and other parts of the country.
Project 2: Reading promotion – provision of school and community reading infrastructure.
The project will entail the provision of assorted reading books and infrastructure to public Basic schools and community libraries to promote reading.
It will also entail the publication of a commemorative book on Accra to serve as a lasting memorial of the title year (legacy project).
Project 3: Book Industry Development – promoting the Florence Agreement, and the publication and use of books in Ghanaian languages.
This project will focus on developing the book industry. It will entail training and capacity building workshops to advance the UNESCO Convention on books and educational materials (Florence Agreement), and promote the publication and use of books in Ghanaian languages.
Project 4: Promoting creative skills to address unemployment, substance abuse, truancy, and teenage pregnancy among the youth.
The project seeks to equip the target groups (unemployed youth, kayayei and other vulnerable persons) with creative and employable skills for socio-economic transformation.
Project 5: Promoting fundamental human rights, and access to information and books.
This project will focus on advancing the right and access to information through books and reading. It is focused on promoting the role of media practitioners, journalists, and other civil society organisations in the dissemination of information and knowledge.
Project 6: Promotion of Arts and Culture – Showcasing and preserving Ghanaian arts and culture, and promoting inclusivity.
This project will focus on advancing Ghanaian arts and culture and promote inclusivity. It seeks to showcase various aspects of the Ghanaian cultural heritage including parks, museums, historical sites and events, drama, arts etc.
EXCERPTS OF PROGRAMME
The activities will be held in Accra and other parts of the country. The opening and closing ceremonies will be held in Accra.
There will be an official opening ceremony on 23rd April 2023. It will be attended by many high level national and international audience, government officials, traditional and civil leaders, book industry practitioners as well as people from the target groups such as school children, youth and other marginalised groups.
‘Discovering Accra through the Book’
A commemorative book on Accra will be launched. This special book on the city of Accra is to serve as a lasting memorial of the title year, introduce readers to the city and help them to visualise various aspects of life in Accra, such as its people and culture, institutions, infrastructure, ambience, and the meaning and significance of mundane or everyday activities one is likely to experience in Accra. Apart from its informational and educational purposes, the book is also to project the city of Accra to the world.
‘Remembering our Literary Luminaries’ – Celebrating the Centenary Anniversary of Efua T. Sutherland
The centenary anniversary of Efua T. Sutherland will be celebrated to honour this literary icon. Efua T. Sutherland (27th June 1924 – 22nd January 1996) was a Ghanaian educationalist, author of children's literature, playwright, and poet who founded the Accra Drama Studio (which is now the Writers' Workshop at the University of Ghana, Legon). The centenary anniversary is to celebrate her contribution to the Ghanaian literary landscape.
The Book Spot: ‘Book a Book’
To promote reading and access to books among pupils, book booths stocked with assorted reading books will be provided to selected public basic schools in Accra and other parts of the country. These will be accompanied with literary festivals to generate interest in reading.
Welcome to the World: ‘Babies with Books’
This will entail periodic donation of books to new born babies at selected health facilities to introduce such babies to books and encourage their parents and guardians to instil reading habits in them.
‘Leaving no one behind’: Reading with Persons with Special Needs
Brailles and books will be donated to community libraries to ensure inclusivity. Under this programme, there will be other fun activities such as read-to-act and creative writing competitions for persons with special needs.
There will be public symposia on freedom of speech and expression and access to information through books. This will be in partnership with journalists and civil society organisations throughout the country.
‘Building a Nation of Readers’: Book Fairs and Exhibitions
The Ghana International Book Fair will bring together local and international players in the book industry to celebrate Ghana’s rich culture through books.
There will also be other exhibitions to promote arts and culture, creativity and reading among the general public. Various workshops on publishing, translation, rights buying and selling, open access resources etc. to build the capacity of practitioners of the creative arts industry will also be organised.
‘Going Robotics’ - International Youth Day
This will entail exposing children and the youth to robotics through datathons/hackathons and skills competitions.
International Literacy Day – Reading in Local Languages/‘Kasemͻ Ni Kanemͻ’
Community based reading sessions/clinics in local languages will be organised in selected communities, market places, schools and other communal places.
‘Writing Our Stories’- Writing competitions
This will involve opportunities for young people to share stories on their communities and other experiences for publication into anthologies.
‘Nurturing Talents’ - Launch of a National Book Development Fund
This is to support book development, authorship and creativity.
The year-long programme of activities will officially end on 22nd April 2024.
SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS TO ORGANISE EVENTS
Persons interested in organising activities/events falling under these and/or other areas during the title year may submit proposals. You may click on the link below for the proposal form.
AWBC, 2023 Proposal Form | Accra For WBC 2023 (accraworldbookcapital.gov.gh)