Those familiar with Ghana’s literary landscape know that there is a gap in the history of Ghana’s (postcolonial) literature. There seem to be no intermediate generation between older writers such as Ama Ata Aidoo, Kofi Anyidoho, Kofi Awoonor, Kojo Laing, Ayi Kwei Armah on one hand and the many new and emerging voices on another hand. But if we lost our voices at some point, we are rediscovering them.
And today, the Ghanaian literary scene is filled with a significant number of younger voices that are (re)defining our literature in very significant ways. These are indeed exciting times for Ghanaian literature considering the many literary/artistic/cultural activities happening all around the country. And we at Santrofi wish to contribute in our own small way on the Ghanaian literary scene.
As a blog, Santrofi explores Ghanaian literature in all its forms. But this exploration of Ghanaian literature is not done in isolation. A significant recognition is given to other artistic forms and aspects of Ghanaian culture in general. We believe that Ghanaian literature, arts and culture are connected in very significant ways. We also believe that literary, artistic and cultural expression must fulfil significant socio-political purposes. This is evident in the choice of name for this blog.
In Akan mythology, Santrofi is considered as a dilemma bird. Not only is Santrofi a blessing, it is also a curse. In a publication titled “Prison as Exile/Exile as Prsion: Circumstance, Metaphor and a Paradox of Modern African Literatures”, Kofi Anyidoho explains that Santrofi is a blessing because of the clarity of its vision and the transforming beauty and power of its song. It is a curse for its exasperating and irrepressible urge to expose the repulsive aspects of society. In this discussion, Anyidoho refers to the popular Akan proverb that suggests that if a hunter carries the Santrofi bird home, he has committed a taboo but if he abandons the Santrofi bird in the forest, he has also lost a rare treasure.
Anyidoho compares the African artist to the Santrofi bird and significantly, explains that “society is blind without Santrofi’s visionary guidance, but it stands forever condemned by Santrofi’s persistent accusations of improper conduct.” This statement is important particularly for our project because it succinctly summarizes our vision not only for Ghanaian literature but also for this blogging platform.
Though we emphasize the aesthetic aspects of Ghanaian literature, our perspective on this platform is also highly influenced by the idea that literature must serve some significant socio-political purpose and perhaps this is more true in the case of Ghana, a postcolonial nation in transition.
We believe this project will not be successful without some very fruitful conversations with you. So please feel free to send us comments, suggestions and questions.
Thanks so much for passing by!!!
Photo Credits: Ghana Photograph by Paul Strand, Philadelphia Museum of Art.