The world is a global village.Marshall McLuhan
I connected with Books with Abena a few years ago on Twitter now X. She hosted me on a Twitter Space last year where we talked about books that focused on motherhood and their importance.
Fast forward to this year in October, I am in Accra and I reach out with a ,’Hey Abena, I will be attending the PaGya! festival. Can we link up and potentially record a podcast together?‘
She said ,YES.
We met on an extremely hot Wednesday for the podcast recording. I sat with J, my friend in his car while we waited for signs of Abena. Google maps had led us to the location but only Abena could confirm if we were in the right place.
She emerged from a white building (most buildings in Accra are white) adorned in a corduroy purple knee length dungaree dress perfect for the sweltering Accra heat, waved at us.
I waved back and off we walked into the GCR Studios which are gorgeous like a thing created to exude beauty from whatever point you look at it from. I cooled off immediately by virtue of the cold waves from the air conditioner. A welcome reprieve from the heat.
We had agreed to recording two episodes in one sitting!! One episode would focus on How Book Influencers are shaping the literary space and another on Curated Reading List – Uganda (This one is already available. Listen in.) Abena had sent through the guiding questions ahead of time and it was easy to plan and settle my mind. When the recording started, we chatted like old friends.
We said our goodbyes to the team at GCR Studios and off we went to visit some spaces Abena thought I would absolutely love.
First stop was the Fika, a bubble Teahouse. I had whatever Abena ordered because I was a newbie who did not want to be disappointed by my choices. We chatted away while Abena tried to capture some bookstagram content. (Check out her Bookstagram here for proof).
After adding sweeteners and energy boosters to our bodies, off we went to the Dikan Center, a non-profit visual education organisation, school, photo library and community. We found an ongoing exhibition , “Home is more than a place.” I was literally drooling over each image. What mastery!! Each image was speaking to me and I could have stayed there all day and night.
Dikan exists to equip photographers! Imagine such a space in Uganda. I imagined what I could do with it as a cultural coordinator-the events/workshops that we could host, the exhibitions, residencies. Shout out to Agandy Sudios that’s curating a space for creatives to connect and learn together through their Studio Talks that are held twice a month.
Once we had exhausted our tour of Dikan, we set off for our next destination, Makola market to buy fabric from Woodin because when in Ghana, you must buy fabric. The market is nothing compared to Owino or Nakasero markets in Uganda. I found it to be less chaotic and was shocked that no man was pulling me and saying, sister, sister, like they do in Uganda!! Imagine that being a shock!!
I shopped a few other things and took photos of large yams because I was comparing them with the yams back at home.
Abena walked me to my hotel and she too went home after we agreed to meet the next day at the NYU (New York University) Accra Literary Symposium that hosted Literary royalty like Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Aminatta Forna, Leye Adenle, Rémy Ngamije, Chris Abani, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah and so many more. We both made it and sat together throughout, bought books, got them signed and we complained about Accra’s sweltering heat all over again.
Abena thank you for your love and generosity.
Check out my podcast episode, Curated Reading List: Uganda – Interview with Racheal Kizza now. Subscribe to Books with Abena podcast for everything bookish. Follow Abena on X and on Instagram.