IT is truly an honour and a privilege to be with you today at this Pan African Literary Festival. This gathering is not just a mere celebration of literature; it is a testament to the power of shared stories, and the profound impact they can have on shaping our collective consciousness.
Distinguished guests, as we come together under the umbrella of Pan Africanism, we recognize the rich woven cultures, histories, and experiences that make up the African continent. The African literature, like the diverse landscapes that span from the north to south, reflects the multiplicity of voices that demand to, and must be heard. For it is in these narratives that we find solace and the essence of our shared humanity.
In the realm of literature, words become links that connect us across time and space. They traverse borders and defy the constraints of geography. Today, as we celebrate the written and spoken word, let us also acknowledge the power of literature to inspire, educate, and unite as Africans. In the words of the African prolific writer, Chinua Achebe, “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” Our stories matter, and it is through literature that we reclaim our narratives and give voice to the silenced.
The Literary Arts are part of the creative and cultural industries with the creative and cultural industries providing jobs for nearly 30 million people worldwide with the book industry among the three top employers. Ghana’s Copyright Office indicates that industries whose businesses are fully based on copyright-related activities contributed between 1.44% and 2.48% to Ghana’s GDP between 2013 and 2016 and could be on the conservative side. The literary arts are a viable professional option.
This Pan African Literary Festival serves as a platform for dialogue, for the exchange of ideas, the celebration of our collective identity and the knowledge that it has a monetary and non-monetary contribution to national development. It is a space where authors, poets, and storytellers like yourselves can weave narratives that transcend borders and foster a deeper understanding of the shared challenges and triumphs that define us as Africans.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we engage in conversations, let us remember the responsibility that comes with the gift of storytelling. Our words have the power to challenge perceptions, to dismantle stereotypes especially talked about Africa, and to build bridges of understanding. Let us use this power wisely, with empathy and a commitment to truth, so that our stories may resonate not only within the walls of this festival but echo far beyond, leaving an indelible thought in the hearts and minds of readers and also contribute to peace.
In closing, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to invite all authors and creatives here present to get intimate with UNESCO’s collection on the General History of Africa that was published to challenge the consistent reconstruction of Africa’s history, freeing it from racial prejudices ensuing from slave trade and colonization, and promoting an African perspective.
I would also like to express my gratitude for being part of this extraordinary gathering.
May the Pan African Literary Festival continue to be a beacon of creativity, a celebration of diversity, and a testament to the enduring power of the written and spoken word.
* Abdourahamane Diallo, UNESCO Representative to Ghana, made the speech at the Pan-African Literary Festival 2023 on Thursday, December 7, 2023