THE FIRST ANNUAL PAN AFRICAN LITERARY Forum in Ghana hosted more than 200writers, publishers, and filmmakers from Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom in July.
PALF hopes that by bringing together aspiring writers it can develop talent and build mentoring relationships, which will lead to a wider distribution of books by black authors worldwide.
Hosted by South African Poet Laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile, PALF connected established and emerging writers for writing workshops, seminars, lectures, networking, and cultural activities. Special guests included Pulitzer Prize winner Yusef Komunyakaa, celebrated Ghanaian author and Brown University professor Ama Ata Aidoo, Orange Prize-winning Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Toronto-based Ghanaian novelist Esi Edugyan, and Caine Prize-winning Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina.
The event also raised money and donated books for Ghanaian schools to address an illiteracy rate of nearly 60%.
According to Grant Jones, chief administrator of PALF, “This year we were able to bring hundreds of pounds of books to needy schools, to schools in some cases that had no libraries at all.”
PALF plans to return to Ghana in March 2009 with a broader package of services and interests for international writers. It hopes to hold the 2010 forum in Timbuktu and eventually move the event to Mali.
Looking forward, PALF wants to increase the number of participants and its diversity. To become a participant of the 2009 Pan African Literary Forum or to volunteer with the community outreach program by giving books or contributing to the organization’s scholarships, go to www.panafricanliteraryforum.org.