Why an African Poetry Anthology is relevant

About two weeks ago, I posted about the idea of creating a modern african poetry anthology with the poetry written primarily in african languages. If you haven’t already read about it or need some more details, they can be found here.

I do believe that it is important to publicize why such a project is relevant and where it could go. Growing up in Ghana, one of the things i regret is the lack of focus on the arts and the fact that little or no importance was attached to their study.  The path to culture is through the arts, which is why we drum, and dance, and have poems and appellations and things we say as we pour libation. Our culture hinges on the arts, and yet our educational system places very little emphasis on them. When I speak for Ghana, I can speak with a lot more authority, but i do not doubt that in many countries across the African continent, the situation is similar. Promoting a love of poetry, is intended to draw us closer to our culture, and make it easier for others to figure out what exactly our culture is (I say this with respect to the various cultures that can be found on the continent).

Reason number two, is to promote the written study and use of African languages which are often more spoken than written. The official languages of many African countries are European, and in some cases, this is to the detriment of local languages. More and more children grow up surrounded by a language that they cannot speak, and yet speak impeccable English or French or Portuguese. In rural settings, children who have a strong command of their mother tongues are often considered uneducated. While I cannot deny the importance of Speaking a bigger language such as English, French or the like in the world today, I see nothing wrong with us changing the perception of literacy to involve a strong command of our own languages, both spoken and written. Let’s engage each other intellectually in Kikuyu, Ewe, Hausa, Yoruba and the like, to name only a few.

Beyond this, I want this project to be the start to an Afrocentric turn to our educational system. Africans turning inward for a change and exhibiting a deeper knowledge and concern with happenings on the continent as well as its histories. I do not see how we can change the way the world views us : as Africans, not as Nigerians, South Africans etc, if we cannot interact with that view, and a greater awareness of ourselves  and of each other would equip us to do so.

I believe there is beauty and subtlety to our languages that we often fail to see because we do not study them enough, and that it is important to become aware of this.

So summed up, this is why i think my project is relevant.

In a little while, a video version of this post will come up  so you can hear about it if text doesn’t work for you. Hopefully that will also help generate awareness about the project and get things started.

If you have any questions, submissions, things you would like to submit, or would simply like to get on board, send an email to:

africanpoetryanthology@gmail.com

The slogan for this project and for many others that I hope will follow is:

“Art from the continent, for the continent.’”

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