Saturday, 26 November 2011


The ochre building
I was returning from a visit to my loving parents when this ochre building with blue trimmings in the compound of the Accra Teacher Training College struck me. The signage indicated that it was a community library for young people. My interest piqued as I drove on. And I pondered. Libraries nurture young minds and ignite that fiery, incurable life- long passion for books, learning and the unyielding search for knowledge which every society needs to confront its existential challenges. Libraries have impacted my life deeply.
The small library at Morning Star  Preparatory School in the 1980s was my kingdom; this was a veritable treasure trove of information. There I read about Kwaku Ananse(the Ghanaian sage anti-hero), Loki the perennial trouble causer god of Norse mythology and of course the Iliad(when I confronted it as a Classics student at the University of Ghana, Legon it was familiar terrain); in that library I circumnavigated the world a zillion times in my mental interstices before I ever leaped bodily across the oceans into other climes. In my high school years the Ghana Library Board facility (then obviously losing its verve but still very useful) in down town Accra near the Ghana Supreme Court buildings was a regular haunt. By my twenties I had visited every library(
Children doing their thing!
joined  where possible and borrowed books) in Accra. I noticed in the last few years the demise of those libraries I was familiar with in our capital. The British Council Library suffered a meltdown and has morphed into a confounding temple for profits (which should not be a bad thing except that the profit motive incinerated the library). The Martin Luther King ,Jr, Library began to unravel after the George Bush, Jr., led cuts on such facilities and has relocated to the fortification that is the American Embassy(too many guns and war like infrastructure in sight to attract an unarmed potential reader and too way out of town!!). The W.E.B Dubois Library is struggling while the George Padmore Research Library on African Affairs is just soldiering on. Today as a society we seem enamored of actively building malls, stalls, stores and drinking spots not thinking spaces like libraries in our communities and that is how we have choked off the circuitry for  fresh imaginings, deep self reflection and the sheer  pleasure of mental exercise.
Nima Centre 2.47 x 1 and 247 x 100
The Nima Learning Centre
To return to the ochre building it turns out that Nima Community Library(and its adjoining Learning Centre) where I shared some thoughts on leadership last Friday was part of a chain(I engaged with staff from this chain of libraries in Ghana) painstakingly and determinedly put up by Kathy Knowles(a Canadian) and her Ghanaian collaborators. I love the Learning centre outfitted with a stage for in-house theatrical productions and the spacious reading room above it. My area Sakumono and the Manets of this world definitely need this   kind of space. The Africa themed décor of both the library and Learning Centre connect its young patrons to who they are (the children’s story books which depict the children’s everyday realities and produced in-house as well further reinforce this). I was extremely happy that the Republic of Ghana through the Accra Metropolitan Assembly was picking the tabs for utilities and the staff. This is what creative governance should be about; this to my mind is the meaning of local government where concerned citizens engage a sensible, agile, considerate government and her assigns in tackling the everyday challenges of all of us unencumbered by domineering, seducing ideas of social and economic organization from elsewhere. One can espy Nima lying placidly below from the balcony of the Learning Centre with her dizzying patchwork of brown roofs; what other heights can’t Nima and indeed our Republic reach with community power?

ps: all pixes taken from the Osu Children Library Fund website.          


  1. What can I say but thank you for saying this!

  2. Thank you too for musing over this and reading this!!!! Cheers!

  3. You're kidding! I've never seen the place, although I did wander the warrens of Nima several months ago on my bicycle (raising suspicions about what an Obruni would be doing there!)