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%
2. United States - 13%
3. Canada - 7%
4. Zimbabwe - 6%
5. Nigeria - 3%
Other - 4%
Authors by country of current habitation:
1. Ghana - 54%
2. United States - 19%
3. Canada - 9%
T-4. England - 6%
T-4. Zimbabwe - 6%
6. Nigeria - 3%
Other - 4%
It seems from this that a 'brain drain' of poets from Ghana to other parts of the world is occurring, with a 13 percentage point drop in the share of poets living in Ghana (a 20% drop in real numbers). The biggest gainers of Ghanaian poets, not surprisingly, are England and the United States.
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 - 31%
2. Ashanti Region - 19%
3. Central Region - 12%
4. Eastern Region - 6%
T-5. Northern Region - 4%
T-5. Volta Region - 4%
Other - 10%
Unknown - 12%
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 - 58%
2. Ashanti Region - 13%
3. England - 8%
T-4. Central Region - 6%
T-4. United States - 6%
6. Eastern Region - 2%
Other Foreign Countries - 6%
Only 23% of all Ghanaian poets featured on this site reside in a region of Ghana other than Greater Accra, and 23 out of 33 (70%) of the Ghanaian poets born outside of Greater Accra now living in the capital.
Few of the percentages listed above have changed dramatically since 2008. There has been a slight shift away from the "brain drain" - more Ghanaian poets staying in Ghana, and more non-Accra poets staying in their home regions - but the overall trends remain the same. With a sample size that's almost twice as large, however, these numbers can be seen as more reliable than the last batch.
It seems more clear than ever that a poetic brain drain towards Accra is occuring. Is this unavoidable? And even if we could avoid it, would we want to, or should it be viewed as a positive thing? How can we take advantage of having such a large percentage of Ghana's poets in one city?
The conversation is ongoing.
We'll be back to our normal schedule with a poem and profile next Saturday.
First of all, I guess a worthy recognition of the OGOV administrative crew’s insightful feelers for this trend of brain drain of poets and its analysis must be mentioned. It is really smart, and a very brilliant move towards accessing the prevalent trend of brain drain. From the analytical deductions it actually seems more clear than ever that a poetic brain drain towards Accra might be occurring.
Now the question of whether this trend is unavoidable could indeed generate a very interesting topic characteristic of OGOV Roundtable series. In my opinion, the answer to that question is ‘YES’ and ‘NO’. Yes in the sense that it is unavoidable for a society to be static. Society is dynamic hence the shifting tendencies in the nature of literary brain gain or drain. For now the scale is being tilted to brain drain but in another instance a positive reversal may be the case. The second answer being ‘No’ stems from the fact that at least something can be done to lessen or cushion the impact of the drain even if it could not be totally avoidable. Perhaps it is safe to assert that this poetic brain drain towards Accra that is seen to be occurring can also be totally avoidable.
How can it be avoided? The first step is what you guys at OGOV have started. Identifying the trend. The second step is to either ignore it or try to rectify it. It can be rectified by stimulating the place with more interactive poetic awareness in the youth to replace the dwindling figure.
But like you did mention, even if we could avoid it, would we want to, or should it be viewed as a positive thing? Yes it is a positive thing to have a steady flow in the storehouse of ideal poetic brains, just like a football academy trains younger generations of players in anticipation of the demise of the old school team. Also it is positive because the liberal arts is the only sane lamp that brightens the grim path of self destructive propensity inherent in the much touted science. The more literary brains the better for society because it is the only peaceful weapon that is known have a way of overpowering our emotions positively.
How can we take advantage of having such a large percentage of Ghana's poets in one city? As far as I am concerned this could be a big blessing because it would soon overflow evenly to other parts of the country and beyond. Your efforts at OGOV has impacted on me far away in another country, talk less of within the same country. Well done, guys. Thanks.
The poets are also mainly from the South of Ghana. A significant number, if not most, would have been educated in a single sex missionary boarding school. As for ethnicity, they would be Akan, Ga or Ewe. Still, I could be wrong.
Yes, I think your assumptions are generally accurate, though we don't have enough hard data to back them up.
I think you are right that the answer is both "yes" and "no". The brain drain is happening in many instances, but not all, so we must find ways to work on both fronts.
It seems the two main questions to draw from your reply are:
1. In areas outside of Accra, how can we stimulate more interactive poetic awareness in youth?
2. In Accra, how can we take advantage of the "storehouse of ideal poetic brains"?
I don't feel confident attempting answers on the first question, but on the second I feel like a combination of poetry readings (which are happening) and Accra-based print poetry magazines (which may be happening, but I am not aware) are a great place to start.
What do others think?
Your view on a combination of poetry readings and Accra-based print poetry magazines is actually plausible.
I share your doubts on Accra-based print poetry magazines. But when one considers the role of the internet and its impact on online publications, another question will arise from the availability and accessibility of both mediums. Perhaps a distinction could be made on online publishing and on paper-based print media? As at now, I am also very much in doubt if the paper magazine print media is actually living up to that expectation. Poets turn to online publishing more than print magazines.
And so, what is the way forward? Perhaps OGOV is already taking a tentative recourse in that direction. It would indeed be a very welcome development. What do you guys think? Perhaps we could as well start making some donations towards procuring some print media equipments. This is my spontaneous reaction, though. I may be wrong.
When it comes to print publications, I think the biggest requirement is time. Money is important, but if you manage to fundraise enough to put out a good first issue, do you have the ability and energy to repeat that process again and again? Because it takes time to build things up.
I know for myself that sometimes even running OGOV is a struggle - and running a print magazine, with its additional concerns around design, printing, distribution and cost, requires that much more of a commitment.
Realistically, I think print magazines only survive long-term if they are run by co-operatives. But those too take a great deal of energy to establish (and to keep from falling apart).
And to have the time to do any of this, what do you need? Money. But not money for the magazine (at least not primarily), instead money to support your life so that you have time and enery to devote to the magazine. And that's much harder to achieve than simply funding a magazine, you know?
There must be ways to try and overcome that burden, or at least lessen it, though I'm not sure what they are at the moment...
Well, that's my sense of the problem - how do others feel?
I have to come back to this discussion again because I am very sure that we have not actually exhausted all the answers to the questions raised therein. I also agree with you completely on the facts you pointed out that “When it comes to print publications, I think the biggest requirement is time. Money is important, but if you manage to fundraise enough to put out a good first issue, do you have the ability and energy to repeat that process again and again? Because it takes time to build things up.”
My answer to all what you said draws from an old saying, which I like so much to hear and to also quote. “When there is a will there is always a way”. The beginning may seem difficult but it is definitely not insurmountable or impossible. I guess it only requires one or two people who could stand out of the crowd to take appropriate initiative steps towards that direction, and then maybe later our collective will could see us through to the successful actualization of our aim without minding who takes the credit.
In terms of fundraising, even the bible even says that “money answereth all things” Ecclesiastes 10:19 - My advice is to outsource for sponsorship from corporate organizations. I am a living witness who can count many projects which came to fruition as direct beneficiaries of the benevolence and supportive gestures of these companies. My suggestion is on this is to source for sponsorship, perhaps in addition to any voluntary donations. I know a lot of companies in Ghana and other Ghanaian International Organization operating outside Ghana that would be willing to lend a helping hand in that direction. Honestly, I am willing to offer my services to that effect free of charge.
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