Mapping OGOV Poets

Since March 2007, we here at OGOV have published 72 "issues" by 36 different authors. In lieu of a new poem this week, we thought we'd look at where those poets are coming from and what that tells us about poetry in Ghana.

Here are the general results of a review of authors' country of origin and country of current habitation:

Authors by country of origin:

1. Ghana - 67%
T-2. United States - 11%
T-2. Canada - 11%
4. Zimbabwe - 8%
5. Nigeria - 6%

Authors by country of current habitation:

1. Ghana - 50%
2. United States - 17%
3. Canada - 14%
T-4. England - 6%
T-4. Zimbabwe - 6%
T-6. Nigeria - 3%
T-6. South Africa - 3%
T-6. Switzerland - 3%

It seems from this that a 'brain drain' of poets from Ghana to other parts of the world is certainly occurring, with a 17 percentage point drop in the share of poets living in Ghana (a 25% drop in real numbers). The biggest gainers of Ghanaian poets, not surprisingly, are England (up to 6%, a 100% increase) and the United States (up to 17%, a 50% increase).

The bigger 'brain drain' of Ghanaian poets on OGOV, though, can be seen when you look at a national level:

Ghanaian poets by Region of birth:

1. Greater Accra Region - 29%
T-2. Ashanti Region - 17%
T-2. Central Region - 17%
T-4. Eastern Region - 8%
T-4. Northern Region - 8%
T-4. Volta Region - 8%
T-7. Upper East - 4%
T-7. Upper West - 4%
T-7. Unknown - 4%

While Accra clearly plays a leading role in producing poets, the distribution of poets' homelands is fairly even - that is, until you take into consideration the poets' region of current habitation:

Ghanaian poets by Region of current habitation:

1. Greater Accra Region - 59%
2. Ashanti Region - 12%
T-3. United States - 8%
T-3. England - 8%
T-5. Central Region - 4%
T-5. Canada - 4%
T-5. Switzerland - 4%

Only 16% of all Ghanaian poets featured on this site reside in a Region of Ghana other than Greater Accra, with only 4 out of 17 (23%) of Ghanaian poets born outside of Greater Accra still living outside of the capital.

Certainly, a number of factors influence these results, three of which I'll note here:
First, the University of Ghana, Legon, pulls talented young writers to Accra.

Second, OGOV is based out of the capital, and our promotional campaigns have been most focused there.

Third, OGOV is an online magazine, limiting our audience to urban areas of the country with solid internet networks.

Add to all of that the nation-wide trend of migration towards Accra, and the results may not seem all that surprising. Still, they raise a number of questions:

Is a poetic 'brain drain' to the capital happening?

If so, is this good or bad?

What can we do to compensate for it? How can we make sure that the peoples and stories of other parts of Ghana are written about?

How can we take advantage of having such a large percentage of Ghana's poets in one city?

Let us know what you think.

We'll be back to our normal schedule with a poem and profile next Saturday.


B. Ellis said...

A good post. Although getting more poems from people outside Accra is important, I think it is relevant to note that an unfair share of poets from any country are in exile from their homeland, either by choice or by force. Exile tends to bring out the poet and the poem as much as a first love can.

ImageNations said...

Some of us are in Accra by work...I come from a small town called Suhum and that's where I have stayed for the majority of my life