Saturday, the 15th of July, 2017 wasn’t just an ordinary Saturday. The “Write Right” seminar, organised by Rubbytalks in collaboration with www.2eweboys.com on the theme “Rewriting the Narrative About Ghanaian Women through literature” was taking place at the SRC Union building in the University of Ghana, Legon and I was not going to miss it for the world. As a budding writer and a woman who wants things to be “rewritten” in that context, I had earlier registered online via an ad I saw on Facebook and was psyched and steadily looking forward to a day of impartation and renewed zest for writing. With the line-up of talks from prolific women like Ama Opoku-Agyeman, Efe Franca Plange and Naa Oyoo Kumodzi, it was set to be literally lit!
Like every day comes and goes, this one came and I was at the venue a whole 30 minutes before time. (Ha! The Accra traffic had nothing on me). I was on time and had the chance to sit outside the venue and collect my thoughts before the program began. Organisers were still putting things in place and the hosts Lizz Johnson and AmazingGrace Danso were in sight.
With the late arrival of participants and some speakers of the conference, the ball was set rolling at approximately 9:30 am. The very involving host, Lizz Johnson was a breath of fresh air, to say the least. She eased up the tension, creating an environment that was void of shyness. She interacted with participants, some of who were males. Their excuse for being there was to get into the psyche of women and understand them better. I found that interesting. The first reader of the day Josephine Amoako, a writer and blogger, was then invited to share her lovely piece.
The first speaker was Ama Opoku-Agyeman, a Lecturer at the School of Pharmacy, University of Ghana, Legon who spoke for about 20minutes on the theme “Who better than you to change the world?”. She profiled some outstanding women in history who though not necessarily writers, have in their own little way, changed the world around them, such as Mother Theresa and Wangari Maathai.
Efe Franca Plange followed closely with her talk which sought to “Challenge, Correct, Change: Skewed perceptions about Ghanaian Women” in general. She gave a few pointers to the present participants on general ways to deal with things noticed in society not just looking at them from the lay man’s view, but with the writer’s eye. There were also brief interactions and collaborative work.
Th final talk was by Naa Oyoo Kumodzi, who delved into “Altruistic writing about women; the accepted and the taboo”. She spoke to the minds of participants on general misconceptions about writing and how to be themselves and embrace their unique style and sense of writing.
Participants were allowed to ask questions which were addressed after which there was another refreshing reading from Maukeni Padiki Kodjo which immediately proceeded the short breather which saw individuals interacting while others, like me, headed for the snack stalls to tame their tums.
The ice breaker from the interlude was a captivating reading from the host Lizz Johnson; a section from a piece she has been working on. Next was the Panel discussion driven by “Master” AmazingGrace Danso, with help from her able assistant, “mate” Lizz Johnson. The panellists were Prisca Kyei-Sakyi, Rita Kusi, Maukeni Padiki Kodjo and Josephine Amoako all women who are active players in the literary scene. It was a discussion centred on common issues writers of today are confronted by and possible solutions. Some of these issues were Writer’s Block and how to overcome it, how to deal with internet trolls, what motivates them to write, and how to start and maintain a blog. There were also back and forth discussions, and questions and answers, which finally brought the conference to a close.
My low for the show was the starting time, which could have been better if participants had shown up at the stipulated time. It would have been awesome to have extra time on our hands, especially during the Panel discussion. I had also hoped for a more detailed presentation from all speakers on the writing processes broken down, especially for those present to learn the basics and develop an appreciation for the art of writing, as opposed to general motivation. But just as Rome was not built in a day, I know future seminars will be better.
On the other hand, it was an impressive turnout for a first-time event. I was thrilled to be among such great minds, each with different approaches to putting their thoughts to words, but all with a common goal; expressing themselves through writing. It opened my eyes to the uniqueness my articles possess and that I should be proud of these unique bits and not hide my writing “under my bed” because I never know who might receive healing through them. I was appreciative of the souvenirs handed out to participants too. I was also thrilled on some revelations made by organisers on the day about the development of an anthology of short stories written by women and for women. Oh, and priority is given to participants of the seminar. How cool is that? I was definitely excited and my head was bursting with ideas in the end. In my opinion, they couldn’t have picked a better MC and I eagerly look forward to better future seminars in terms of venue and structuring.
WRITER: Alice Johnson
IMAGES: Nana Elikem