From the day I saw the Facebook post that Nana Awere Damoah and Kofi Akpabli were organizing another book reading dubbed Tickling Di Sebiticalis, I purposed in my heart that I would attend. I needed some literary tickling and nothing was going stop me this time – not even the running stomach I battled with that Saturday afternoon.
Let me tell you a bit about that. After having my way by stuffing myself with a mixture of pancake and orange juice, Indomie, and akple and abobi tadi, all within a space of two hours, at a church event that morning, my stomach decided to have its say.
Just before I left the church premises around 3PM to the event, I was called to duty twice at the church washroom. I was lucky to have picked a drop taxi otherwise I would have told a different tale because I had to beg the taxi driver to make a stop at Melcom Madina for me to go and sort myself out before we continued the journey. And while at the reading, thank God for the good washroom at Jam Rock, I had to respond to the call twice. I felt I was not alone in this predicament as I remember that on my second occasion, one guy came to knock on the door thrice. I was forced to cut short my assignment and allow him to perform his. When I saw him, crouched and holding his belly with one hand and supporting his whole body with the other hand by holding on to the wall, I knew that the battle was real.
So that I can give my impressions about the event very well, I have decided to put my thoughts in sub-headings. This way, the thoughts will not be all over the place. Take a journey with me through Tickling Di Sebiticals.
My first impression when I entered the place was, “who organizes a book reading in a place like this?” Ideally, a lecture hall, a library or any place with some academic sense to it would have been fine, but a restaurant? Kofi Akpabli and I shared a laugh about how the venue was one of the reasons people kept asking about an entrance fee for the event.
One cannot talk about JamRock without talking about the ever-smiling Eliza. My little brother whom I brought with me and I found a place we figured was comfortable for us to sit, albeit I had to sit apart from my brother. I did not care much because I was now sitting beside Abena Frimpong and we had just started having a good conversation. Out of nowhere comes Eliza. She talks to my brother first. Apparently, we were seated in reserved seats and we had to move. Well, she owns the place; we had to comply. The interesting thing that Eliza did was that she came back to us to apologize for moving us and offered an explanation. My brother told me that she even came back after the event to talk to him again. “She’s such a nice person”, he said.
My face lit with joy when Kojo Akoto Boateng, the moderator, announced that JamRock was going to serve soup and it was on the house. The components of the soup were interesting. One would have thought that given the way my stomach was misbehaving, I would have rejected the soup. But again, Eliza was offering, I could not resist.
Overall, there could not have been a better venue for the event. JamRock do all. They had the perfect environment for patrons to be tickled.
Oh, I almost forgot the Burkinabe musician who served us to some good music before the book started. The guy is just so passionate about what he does that he was willing to play throughout all the readings. Even when Kofi Akpabli signaled him to stop, he would not.
Kofi Akpabli and Nana Awere Damoah I knew but Alba I did not. It’s unfortunate that I did not also get to speak to her after the event. I look forward to meeting her.
I have the impression that people turned up for the book reading partly because of the personalities of the authors. They are nice and welcoming. Although they were busily setting up when I got to the venue, Nana Awere and Kofi did not hesitate to pause for a while and say a few words to me. When I forgot to introduce my brother, Kofi requested to know him and spoke to him for a while.
After the programme, it was a fun fair. The trio took the time to talk to everyone who came up to them. They paused in between autographing books to take selfies, answer questions, give hugs and pose for official photographs. All these they did with broad sincere smiles on their faces. It was just so nice, warm and ticklish of them.
It will be difficult to comment on the pieces read from the books. Generally, all authors read very well, the pieces were carefully selected. They addressed social, cultural and political issues. I learnt about some towns and tourist sites and other places of interest in the Volta region and mentally tasted akpeteshie from Ghana and soup from all over Africa. I knew better not to say “you’re invited” when Alba is around, made a resolve not to take a leak in public and learnt to stop saying “enye hwe” and ‘bebia beye fine” but address situations head on when I am faced with them
The readings were not boring. As one who had already read some of the articles they were reading, it was just as interesting as when I read them for the first time – if not more interesting. I liked Alba’s reading most. Her voice was angelic. My brother remarked that she read like she was not reading and that she was so in sync with the book. It felt like we were by the fireside and she was telling us tales. In addition to Alba’s reading, the last reading by Kofi Akpabli was enjoyable. It involved the audience. It was a good note to end on.
I would never have thought that a book reading would be this social. The hugs, laughter, and picture-taking at the end of it said it all. It was a good place to meet people – the real faces behind the faces behind the pictures and names and Facebook. Everyone was generally nice.
Too Many Goodies
I made sure I had enough on me before going to the event because I knew I was going to a restaurant and definitely I might get thirsty and would have to buy, at least, a bottle of water. It’s interesting how I did not spend a dime while I was at the event. There were too many good things associated with the reading.
First, Norte Special Sobolo passed by with some drinks for sampling. We were not done with that before Grace Aloe Vera Drink too came with their round of drinks. Before Jam Rock served us with the special soup, they brought some small chops.
Everything was too good to be true. I did not mind my mother’s supper when I got home that night.
My Highest Points of the Night
First, I went home as a proud brother. I was so glad that I was able to bring my younger brother along with me. I thought he would not appreciate programmes like this so I did not ask him earlier. However, when I was leaving that Saturday, I asked him to come with and he did not think about it twice. He was full of appreciation after the event.
I was also very glad to meet a senior high school student at the event. He came on his own volition. He explained to me that he is studying literature in school and he thought the reading would help his course work. It tells me that there is a future for reading and writing in this country.
And yes, by the time the programme ended, my stomach was fine. The power of reading came upon me, tickled my body and took my infirmity away. Can I hear a hallelujah?
The book reading initiative is one of the best things that this country has. As I read feedback from people on Facebook, I wish and pray that the readings will grow bigger and better and permeate all parts of the Ghanaian society. I hope and pray the reading culture will catch on with as many people. The event is also a good place for young and budding writers to come and learn and get inspiration and motivation to do more. It is also my earnest desire that many more authors in Ghana will catch the fever and organize similar events in the country and spread the reading fervour.
***All Pictures Credited to Kobby Blay