Reading and writing is an essential part of every society that wants to project its culture and literary works.
Africa is not an exception. There have been concerns in the past about young people not writing and reading books enough.
But that appears to be changing gradually with many young people on the continent now showing interest in the industry.
At a recently held literary festival in Ghana’s capital Accra, young people dominated the hundreds of people that gathered for the event.
Literary festivals serving as platforms
The festival called “Pa Gya” in the Ghanaian Akan language meaning to project or uplift provided an opportunity for many writers and poets among other creative artistes across Africa to showcase their works.
It was put together by the Writers’ project, a group focusing on projecting African writers. The priority was to make reading and writing attractive to young people.
Ruby Goka who is one of the young writers that attended the festival. Her literary works focused on several topics including sexual abuse in African societies.
She told Africa Feeds that she started writing at a tender age and now has several books to her credit.
Young writers need examples
Goka said to get many young people into the industry they need more positive stories about the importance of writing and reading.
She asked “Who are the authors, who are the story tellers for young children to look up to? So I think as a society we need to we have to say this is important and put our resources there.
You can’t expect the kids to do things or to follow things no one is talking about, or no one is hyping.”
“They are all doing music because when you turn on the radio, when you turn on the TV, there is Music, but where do you go for the story telling? Where do you go for the theatre? Where do you go for the books?” she added.
There have been concerns about the lack of interest from young people in the creative writing industry across Africa.
Organizers of the festival say there is an emerging trend of young Africans taking over though.
Martin Egblewobe who is leader of the writers’ projects, said the trend has changed positively and the interest is soaring.
“Our hope is that by doing this we are going to raise the interest of the general public in reading, in books and make it clear that literature is an important part of every culture,” he said.
Media narratives must change
In the past many of the writers gracing literary festivals were older. So what changed? Kwasi Amoak is literary work activist and an author himself. He told Africa Feeds that taking writing to schools and making it attractive to young people over the years has helped in some African countries.
But he also wants African media to project good narratives about the continent’s culture, making it attractive to young people.
“May be in terms of media space, I mean we have to gradually re-orient our narratives about ourselves, as Ghanaians as Africans, you know and try and also look at indigenous knowledge systems and how we get young people to also understand these things, that wherever they are in the world, they matter and can express themselves,” Amoak said.
Some of the young authors here who spoke to Africa Feeds said there is no turning back for them.
They intend projecting the continent in their writings and taking up the mantle from the older generation.
One of them, Aisha Nelson said “we are doing a lot as you can see its mostly young people here and I think we are bringing all our efforts, all our ideas together with the connections we know and very soon things will be much better.”
Another young writer, Kwaku Benneh said “Its going to get better, I think the future is bright. There a lot of talented individuals, there are so many writings that are still coming up. The passion is there.”
Africa can boast of many notable writers over the past half a century but with the interest young people are showing in recent times in writing books and putting their creative talents to work, the future surely looks brighter.