USA Africa Dialogue Series - THE AMA ATA AIDOO CENTRE FOR CREATIVE WRITING

 

THE AMA ATA AIDOO CENTRE FOR CREATIVE WRITING

Remarks by AUCC Founder Kojo Yankah

March 16, 2017

The Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing is a reinforcement of the Afro-centric mission and values that dictated the establishment of the African University College of Communications (AUCC). AUCC is different from other tertiary institutions. It aims to principally communicate Africa, its pride, and all its values. It is the only tertiary institution which offers Africana Studies throughout the four year course. AUCC has a good reason to name its Africana Studies Centre after the world-renowned musicologist of no comparison, J. H. Kwabena Nketia. Equally today, AUCC has a compelling reason for establishing a Centre for Creative Writing. Perhaps we should have called it a Centre for Creative Thinking. But  we didn't do that because most institutions claim they train students in creative and innovative thinking. Our niche proposition is that our  Thinking must be based on African history, African beliefs, African practices, African values, and customs. We believe that Africa should claim its right as the origin of world civilization. We charge our students to discover themselves from here.

Who else can communicate better than creative writers.

 Fellow Africans, our choice of an African icon, an African writer who embodies the role model of the values Africa possesses and has been searching for is our toast for today. I must clarify that our choice Personality is not the only African writer who fits into this mold ; she represents all African intellectuals who stand for reshaping our minds and thoughts to propel the decolonization from foreign domination. She means different things to different people, Africans and non-Africans, but she is relentless in being herself, the African woman, the African mother.  Our choice for inspiration of the African youth is the celebrated AMA ATA AIDOO.

The Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing is a not-for-profit unit of AUCC, and all funds raised or endowed to it will be used exclusively for the promotion of the activities of the centre.

It pleases me to announce that the first director of the Centre is a dynamic, distinguished Ghanaian creative writer, poet, novelist and public speaker, deeply committed to the goal of the centre. He is Nii Ayikwei Parkes, a creative person himself who has performed poetry in Ghana, UK, Europe and the USA, written in numerous literary journals, and having been Artist or Writer in Residence with BBC radio and at California State University. At his youthful age, Nii has just been named Chair of the Adjudicating Panel of the Caine Literary Award, and we are blessed to haven him back home as our director.

You will also be interested to know that the following distinguished African writers have enthusiastically accepted to serve on the Advisory Board of the Centre of which l am chairman. Other names will be announced with time.

1. Kwame Anthony Appiah- Professor of Philosophy and of African and African American Studies is currently with The New York University and was the BBC Reith Lecturer for 2016. He previously taught at the Universities of Cambridge, Duke, Cornell, Yale, Harvard and Princeton. Author of the best-selling, In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture and Ethics in a World of Strangers, he is also a detective novelist of Nobody Likes Letitia and  Another Death in Venice. Appiah was voted as one of seven best philosophers in the world by Forbes Magazine and received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2012. He writes a column for The New York Times.

2. Toyin Falola – Nigerian. The Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in  the Humanities and the University Distinguished Teaching  Professor of History, University of Texas is past President of the African Studies Association of the United States and author  and editor of 150 books and hundreds of  publications including the best selling, A Mouth Sweeter than Salt and  Counting the Tiger's Teeth. Described as Africa's pre-eminent historian of his generation, Falola is currently  serving on the 2016 Council of Scholars of the US Library of Congress with the leading American sociologist and President Obama's Advisor on urban policy- William Julius Wilson. He is a fellow of Nigeria's Academy of Arts and Sciences.

3. Ivor Agyeman-Duah- Development Specialist, he is Policy Advisor to The Lumina Foundation which administers the Wole Soyinka Prize in African Literature and was until recently the Inaugural Curator of The John A Kufuor Foundation and Presidential Museum. Part of the production team of BBC's Into Africa and the PBS's Wonders of the African World, he recently produced, The Return of a King to Seychelles. Editor and co-author of the fictional anthologies,  All the Good Things Around US and The Gods Who Send Us Gifts to be published in East Africa as I Was Hungry and You Fed Me which have lead stories by Ama Ata Aidoo. Agyeman-Duah has been a Hilary and Trinity Visiting Scholar at Exeter College, Oxford University and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University.  

4. Taiye Selasi – Ghanaian and Nigerian. Born in London and raised in Massachusetts, Selasi's  first novel, The New York Times best-selling, Ghana Must Go was selected as one of the 10 best books of 2013 by The Wall Street Journal and The Economist and sold in over twenty countries. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies including, All the Good Things Around US. In 2013, Granta named her on its once every-decade list of Best of Young British Novelists. Selasi  holds a BA in American Studies from Yale  and an MPhil in International Relation from the University of Oxford. She lives in Rome.

5. Ellen Banda- Aaku – Zambian, is award-winning author and Literary juror  based in Lusaka and also in London; her book Wandi's Little Voice won the  Macmillan  Writers' Prize for 2004 and in 2007 her story Sozi's  Box was the Commonwealth short story winner. Her first book, Patchwork won the Penguin Prize for African Writing and was short-listed for Commonwealth Book Prize in 2012. In the same  year she was awarded the Zambia Arts  Council Ngoma  Chairpersons Award for achievement in Literature. She has conducted creative writing workshops in Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia and was a judge on the Macmillan Prize for African Writing among others.

Welcome to the Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

Toyin Falola
Department of History
The University of Texas at Austin
104 Inner Campus Drive
Austin, TX 78712-0220
USA
512 475 7224
512 475 7222 (fax)

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