Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Neither attendant checked my ID which made me wonder if I could go into another store and autograph other books as Buchi Emecheta or Janet Fitch or Zadie Smith. Anyway, the wonderment ceased when I spotted a young man and woman who looked Ghanaian. I got focused and introduced myself and it turns out they were Ghanaian! I did an on-site sales pitch for the book. Shameless, I know, but it worked! They bought it and I signed it. Don't be surprised if you find me lurking in the New Releases section at a bookstore near you.
P.S. - I'll be reading and signing books on Saturday, May 1st at the Border Books in Glendale, Queens. Roll through!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
April 30th, 5:30pm
"The Art of Imagination in Three Voices"
A reading in the Vassar College Rose Parlor
with authors Torrey Maldonado and Tanikka Price
May 1st, 6pm
Reading at Borders Books
80-16 Cooper Ave.
Glendale, NY 11385
May 9th, 7pm (Mother's Day)
"Our Mothers, Our Selves"
A reading with Ayesha Harruna Attah at Bluestockings Books
172 Allen Street
New York, NY 10002
May 11th, 7pm
A Q&A at the Studio Museum of Harlem
with Binyavanga Wainaina, Bard Fellow, Director of
the Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists,
and writer of "How to Write About Africa"
144 West 125th Street, New York, NY
Town Point Park
Now to the event: It was more than I ever could have hoped for.
First of all, the Harlem brownstone venue was amazing -- both symbolically and literally. Harlem is where the likes of James Baldwin, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Zora Neale Hurston (among so many other talents) converged to make literary history as part of the Harlem Renaissance. And on a day that was a milestone in my own personal history, I was to read in an insanely beautiful brownstone with the sickest details. I'm talking intricate ceiling and crown mouldings and what looked like a hand-carved banister staircase. I couldn't have picked a better place.
Secondly, the turnout! I had invited friends via Facebook and sent follow-up emails; and I was happy with the large number of RSVPs -- but on Sunday morning the texts started coming with apologies. In the end, the room was packed and spilling out onto the stoop with fam, my best girls, friends I hadn't seen in ages, former co-workers, my current co-workers, bosses, and even the CEO! A big thank you to everyone who came and wanted to come!!
Thirdly, the program! My Ghanaian sister scribe Ayesha Harruna Attah read from her book Harmattan Rain. Her book, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, powerfully chronicles the experience of three generations of Ghanaian women making moves, breaking barriers, and seeking love amidst political upheaval and unexpected personal setbacks. Ayesha wrote this book in just nine months. In other words, she's a freaking genius.
After Ayesha read, voice actor Karen Murray performed excerpts from a Ghanaian story called The Mud Cloth while pianist George Francois accompanied her with explanations of Ghanaian culture and the text. And then I was up!
I was incredibly nervous for one main reason: I planned to read in my characters' respective British, Ghanaian, and American accents. Up until I got to the mic and did it I kept thinking about Baby from Dirty Dancing and "the lift". If I didn't do it, no one would know but me; but I so wanted to try. Thankfully, as I read, that anxiety fell away as I focused on just reading the story.
But then I ended up crying in the middle of my reading! I wasn't expecting to crack, but as I read from the part of the book when my main character Lila first meets Brempomaa, I thought of the best friend I made at school in Ghana and was so overcome with emotion.
When I finished reading, Malaika led a short Q&A and then Ayesha and I signed books and posed for pictures. I honestly don't remember much of what happened in that hour. I didn't drink a drop of the wine being served, but I was completely sotted with adrenaline and gratitude. Still am.
Shout-out to Desiree Jordan and my big sis who chronicled the day with pictures; and Troy Johnson from AALBC.com who shot the video!
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
When I was a kid, I was embarrassed to be Ghanaian/African. It was the '80s, the Ethiopian famine was in full effect on a seemingly endless evening news loop, and kids at school thought it was funny to throw the term "African booty scratcher" around. Going to Ghana changed this for me.
As jarring as it was leaving all I was used to in the States, for other reasons it was a relief to be in Ghana. For the first time, my name "Nana Ekua" wasn't "different," and my dark skin wasn't a suffix for the phrase "you're pretty for a dark-skinned girl." I didn't have to explain why I didn't eat sandwiches for dinner or what language my parents were speaking. My identity as an African was no longer synonymous (in my mind or others') with poverty, disease, or head-shaking pity.
On the flip side, Ghana didn't have to remain the place my parents romanticized as the birthplace of perfectly-behaved children who respect their elders without question. Ghana and its culture could exist as every other place on the planet did and does: a hustle of people pursuing happiness and peace, with all the obstacles, opportunities, and music that hustle comes with. Ghana could be mine.
I get into a little of that in this interview with AfriPOP!'s Mawuse Ziegbe.Take a look.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
One hope’s deferred
One dream’s fulfilled
The latter’s back
On that I build
The faith to hope
It won’t be stilled
The empty cup
It will be filled
That hope I hope
So real it’s “rill”
In black & white
On parch with quill
I see it, son
Now I can chill
I’ve paid the bill
I’ve kissed, I’ve cried
You know the drill
I’ve climbed the hill
I’ve had my fill
My hope’s so high
Don’t need a pill
So Hope I’ll hope
Till you’re fulfilled
And then I’ll hope
For yet more still