London, UK Oct 2019 Events

10/10, 6.30pm, Second Shelf Books: Collecting the Work of African Women Writers with Libreria Ghana
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A selection of rare books by African women writers from Sylvia Arthur’s private collection

The Second Shelf is proud to welcome Sylvia Arthur, founder of Libreria Ghana, for a talk about the challenges and joys of collecting rare books by African women authors.

In 2017, Sylvia left London for Accra, Ghana, where she set up a library using 1,300 of her own books, predominantly by writers of African descent. Retaining a small selection of her collection for herself, she began expanding on what remained, focusing on rare and out-of-print books by African writers.

Her private collection now contains many rare, signed, and first edition works by African and African descended authors. These include a 1958 first edition of The Mischief by Assia Djebar, the first Algerian woman to be published outside her country; a signed, 1963 second impression edition of Noni Jabavu’s The Ochre People, a literary pioneer and the first black South African woman to publish books of autobiography; a signed 1969 first edition of Peggy Appiah’s The Pineapple Child And Other Tales From The Ashanti, the British heiress who made global headlines when she married a Ghanaian lawyer in 1953 and dedicated her life to preserving African folktales; various Buchi Emecheta first editions; and a signed copy of Scottish-Ghanaian artist, Maud Sulter’s rare 1985 debut poetry collection, I Am A Blackwoman.

The lack of inclusion of African women from the literary canon has meant that finding these books, considered to be of little literary value, has been a difficult yet rewarding task for Arthur, and her experience and rediscovery of these books and authors is a necessary and vital act.

Join us we discover some hidden and forgotten gems from Sylvia’s collection and hear the lost stories of the women behind them in celebration of Black History Month and with the belief that works by African writers deserve to be valued, preserved, and collected.

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16/10, 8pm, Star of Kings: Library Laughs with Athena Kugblenu and Friends
A night of stand up comedy to raise money for Libreria, a lending library in Accra, and its literacy projects across Ghana.
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ON THE DOOR: £15.00

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17/10, 7pm, Libreria London and Literandra Present: Black Literary History: An African Perspective with Inua Ellams, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Sylvia Arthur
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To celebrate Black History Month Inua Ellams (‘The Half God of Rainfall’, ‘Barbershop Chronicles’), Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (‘Kintu’ and ‘Manchester Happened’), and Sylvia Arthur (founder of ‘Libreria Ghana’) will be discussing the historical importance of African literary tradition.  

This event is curated by Literandra in support of Libreria Ghana and its literacy outreach programmes.

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31/10, 6.30pm, Waterstones Gower Street: Normalise! African Literature in Focus organised by Literandra
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At the end of Black History Month, authors Sulaiman Addonia (Silence Is My Mother TongueThe Consequences of Love), Leye Adenle (When Trouble SleepsEasy Motion Tourist), and Ola Awonubi (Naija Love StoriesLove’s Persuasion) will be discussing the role of African literature in History, its role in the world literary canon, and the ways in which we can normalise the presence of works by African authors in the global mainstream. 

The panel discussion will be followed by ample time to buy books and get them signed. 

This event is brought to you by Waterstones Gower Street and Literandra, in honour of Libreria Ghana, a library that brings culturally relevant literature to the local population in Accra and other communities in Ghana.

Ticket are priced at £10 / £8 students and Plus cardholders, and include a glass of wine or a soft drink 

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