December 12, 2012
I returned to Winnipeg a week ago this evening. As the bitter cold envelops our city, the balmy and humid breezes of Ghana seem far away. I am also struck by the silence – no more traffic noise, no more street parties across the street from our humble guesthouse, no laughter from school children as they pass by or calls on speakers from nearby mosques bringing the faithful to worship.
This five-week visit was full. The highlight was the celebration of our first library, which was built 20 years ago from a converted shipping container. It was a memorable day as more than 300 children and their librarians came. Young people danced, children dressed in their finest clothes recited their own poems, adult literacy students performed a play called Don’t turn your eyes on people who don’t go to school, and there were many speeches.
The event started a few days before as we scoured every last inch of the compound to make the place sparkle. On the anniversary day, two hours before the guests were expected, I met up with Rachael, a literacy student. She told me she was so excited that she didn’t sleep the night before. After the official program finished she surprised everyone by presenting a beautifully decorated anniversary cake that she had made.
Each November we host a sports festival and a librarians’ workshop and this year was no exception. For our annual meeting we were fortunate to have Dr. Esi Ansah, a professor from Ashesi University, who gave an inspiring address. She urged everyone to do their best for themselves, their community and for their country.
We were happy to welcome Patricia Matira, a librarian from Zimbabwe, who came for two weeks. We had met in Harare ten years before at the Zimbabwean International Book Fair. Patricia learned from other librarians and she shared her enthusiasm and ideas too. Vivian Amanor, Patricia’s host at the Goi Library, said she wanted to jump on the next plane to Zimbabwe!
Continuing with OCLF’s publishing initiatives, we launched The Many Faces of Zainabu with Zainabu and her family. Three more new books are on the way – one to be illustrated by the talented Edmund Opare and two to be illustrated with textile designs by Vivian Amanor.
A new project is underway and today the excavation was begun. It will be a three-storey library with space for young children, senior students and adults, and a theatre. Like other OCLF libraries, it was designed by Roger Amenyogbe, a Ghanaian-born Canadian architect now living in Vancouver. Kojo Maclean, the project’s contractor, will be sending weekly picture updates for our website.
At this time of year, we hear from many of our donors and friends. We are most grateful for your continued support and we send you our best wishes for the holidays and for the coming New Year.