Pa Gya! A Literary Festival in Accra

Catherine Royalty, Principal Librarian, Collections,
2 women at the Pa Gya! festival

The Los Angeles Public Library has a partnership with the international literary organization Writers Project of Ghana in an effort to exchange resources and amplify the voices of writers in Africa and throughout the world. Writers Project of Ghana and their partners, the Goethe-Institut Ghana, recently held their seventh annual Pa Gya! Literary Festival in Accra this past October. Pa Gya! is a three-day literary arts festival featuring a plethora of activities, including book readings, panel discussions, storytelling, poetic and dramatized performances, book launches, literary prize awards, comics and graphic novels, book sales, exhibitions, and a dedicated Children's Corner. Let's hear a bit more about this wonderful event from the organizers.

How long has the Pa Gya! festival been running?

The first festival was held in 2017. Since then, it has become an annual event, collaborating with writers, publishing houses, artists, and cultural institutions.

What is the goal of the festival?

The festival has created new opportunities and an optimal networking platform for emerging local writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, and guest writers from abroad. It continues to grow the literary community in Accra. Over eighty writers, academics, and artists from all over the world were featured at Pa Gya! 2023.

What have been some highlights from past years' festivals?

Highlights from past editions of the festival include dramatized readings (in costume) of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin and His Only Wife by Peace Medie, screenings of movies like An African Apocalypse by Femi Nylander, panel discussions on hundreds of topics ranging from publishing in Africa, to doctors who write, to how women writers combine their art with their other commitments, to readings from alumni of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, and the unique 'From Twi to Mazateco' which featured the translation of poems from Ghanaian languages via Spanish into indigenous Mexican languages.

In addition, every year, the festival hosts the award ceremony for the Abena Korantema Oral History Prize, which is given for a collaboration between a young writer and an African woman over 65 years old who has a story to tell.

How else does the Writers Project of Ghana support writers throughout the year?

Other than the Pa Gya! Festival, the Writers Project of Ghana has a total annual schedule. Since our founding in 2009, we have been bringing writers together to help strengthen our writing community and forge links beyond our borders. There's no roadmap to becoming a published writer; it can be a lonely, economically challenging business! But there is strength in numbers, and we are especially dedicated to helping new writers find their way into the community. We reach out through our various programs, activities, and website and have forged rich links with writers at home and internationally.