Still fighting off jet lag from my trip from Ghana to Iowa to join the International Writing Program, I woke up to the most elating news this morning. The Writers Project of Ghana (WPG), of which I am a co-director, had just received a commitment from the Miles Morland Foundation in the UK for a generous grant.
The WPG is a charitable organization dedicated to promoting Ghanaian writers and nurturing new literary talent. It reaches out to writers through various programs and activities including public readings, writing workshops and a weekly live radio program. It was established in 2008 with funding from the US Embassy. However it is not easy to find funding for the arts in Ghana and the organization has kept going mainly through the dedication of its principal director, Martin Egblewogbe and of a handful of staunch members.
In any society, it is daunting for new writers to find their voices and go public with their work. Ghana is no exception to this. There is no clear-cut path laying out the nebulous business of ‘becoming a writer,’ no creative writing degrees, a brutally limited reading public and a publishing industry that can be far from writer-friendly. The best-known literary names are from the older generations, many Ghanaian writers based abroad are virtually unknown at home and it is only in recent years that an appreciable swell of contemporary writing has begun to make itself felt in-country.
In this environment, the opportunity to attend a writers’ workshop or to feature as a guest reader on a radio program even without any published work to one’s name, is literally a lifeline for an aspiring writer. With its new grant, the WPG hopes to strengthen its fundraising capacity among other things and, together with other writers’ groups like the Ghana Association of Writers and the Mbaasem Foundation (for women writers), illuminate further the difficult pathway to becoming a writer.
Mamle Kabu is a director of the Writers Project of Ghana.