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Readathon Indeed! – A Review by Rami Baitie

So there I was contemplating an evening vegging out in front of the telly, watching last week’s SNL and finishing off Mad Men….next thing I know I’m at the University of Ghana Alumni Association for the 13th edition of the DAkpabli Readathon. The what? And of course it had to be the 13th edition….

It started just over half an hour late due to some self-inflicted ‘dum’ issues. It was supposed to be held outside but was moved indoors; there was a very nice pair of legs slapping at some mosquitoes so I guess she must have influenced the decision.

There was no sign of the VC or the Pro VC; why? Didn’t they know my wife was the featured author??

Kofi Akpabli and Nana Damoah started these readathons in 2015 and they are an excellent source of literary enjoyment. Both these fine gentlemen are wonderful Ghanaian writers and they read their works in a way that just reeks of passion. They write the way I support Arsenal: butu butu! That’s a compliment, in case you’re wondering….

Last year they hit upon the brilliant idea of inviting a featured author to join their readathon, and Elizabeth-Irene Baitie is the third invited author. The previous 2 guests were also women….but I’m not married to the previous 2 guests.

The plastic chair I was sitting on was swaying to a non-existent beat; I don’t know how it lasted till the end. I know, I’m heavy….

Nana Damoah started the evening with a piece titled October Rush, a short story. At this point a latecomer arrived with her daughter, and kissed me….so I forgive her. I know, I’m cheap….

Kofi Akpabli was next with a very entertaining piece about fufu. He spelt it out: F-U-F-U, and made it sound like an insult: FU-FU. He must have been V-E-R-Y hungry when he wrote it because his description of a fufu meal was almost incestuous.

Then came the first reading from the featured author, from her book The Twelfth Heart. I didn’t clap when she was announced because I was writing notes for this blog, but possibly because I was introduced as her ‘bitter half’. She read the part in the book about Mercy’s missing shoe; have you read it yet? You should…..

Kofi came back to read a piece about a bus trip between Bolgatanga and Kumasi. It included a threatened slapping and a possible rainfall which turned out to be goats peeing from the roof of the bus.

Nana’s next piece was a nostalgia trip about transport in Accra where I heard names like Space Bus, Willowbrook, King of Kings, loose steering wheels on a bus, and herbalists selling hot stuff on a bus. The piece was actually about gullible Ghanaians and the vanishing genitalia sensation of a few years back.

My wife, sorry, the featured author, then came back with a reading from The Dorm Challenge, the second of the St. Felice series. All about Brother Bartholomew and the end of the world, students forgiving enemies and being Rapture ready, Bibles everywhere, and unfinished fasting. Have you read it yet? You should…..

Nana read from Kwatriot, No Big English, and Kofi read from Safe House about Nima being a republic, before the featured author was back with a reading from Rattling In The Closet. Have you read……okay, you know what I’m going to say.

There were questions from the audience at this point, including how Nana was able to be so prolific and whether it affected his love life, and Kofi being asked his opinion about crime (or the lack thereof) in Nima. The featured author answered a question about how she would know when she was ready to write a story, and said something about chattering voices in her head. Eish! That explains a lot at home…..

Back to the reading and Nana did a piece that referenced old Ghanaian movies and ended with palm nut soup on a white shirt; don’t ask….

Kofi’s next piece was about his experiment with a rasta hairdo. Foreigners did not have a problem with it but his fellow Ghanaians did because “we are not like that”, and it is not “our culture”. He had problems at the bank because of the rasta, met a Master Rasta who declared him “conscious” and was given a bandana from another rasta to help with his sweating forehead.

Mrs. Baitie’s next reading was from The Twelfth Heart again and was about the mysterious missing shoe. Don’t try her; Agatha Christie self…..

Nana’s reading was from a book by his colleague Kofi and was about akpeteshie. I cannot do it justice here. Seriously, you need to read it and then taste akpeteshie yourself. Followed with Kofi’s reading about Lake Bosomtwe and the descriptive request for kontomire as a dedication to the victims of the Kintampo tragedy, you will realise that Nana and Kofi are serious writers of the best sort: unpredictable.

And then the highlight of the evening: Kofi, reading from a book by Nana, quoted ME! He called someone a toonoo, quoting ME! Haba!

More questions from the audience about creative non-fiction, the size of books for teens, the use of humour, how they choose featured writers as guests, and Professor Audrey Gadzekpo was introduced….or was it her daughter?

The last set of readings had Nana reading “You Know You Are In Ghana….”, Elizabeth-Irene Baitie reading the overnight flower scene from Rattling In The Closet (have you read it?), and Kofi rhapsodising on the utility of light soup (and it’s value at a mealtime table).

The end has arrived, many thanks, etc. My wife called Kofi “Kwame” when she was thanking him, but I didn’t care because by now my bum was really starting to hurt from sitting on a plastic chair. Other attacks against me included too many side conversations, ringing mobile phones, children with a short attention span, and a couple of totally unnecessary shouted comments from the audience.

The DAkpabli Readathon is good stuff; I cannot give it a higher recommendation. It was very evocative, inspiring, and just plain enjoyable. We need more, and Nana and Kofi need to be encouraged. They made me want to read even more than I do, and that’s saying something.

The next Readathon is in Takoradi some time in April. By God’s grace, and hopefully without plastic chairs, but with the same featured author, I will be there.
(Copyright: RamiTalks 2017)

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