Aidoo Centre’s third anthology, The Lockdown: creative nonfiction about living with COVID-19, was launched at Tabon Festival Wednesday December 15, 2021. The event started at 10:00 am at the AUCC Auditorium. The book features 16 authors including three men, and four non-Ghanaians from Japan, the United Kingdom and USA. In attendance were contributing authors ijahra larry chibara, Ursula Abanga, Benjamin Cyril Arthur, Philomena Esi Agudu, and Jane Abraham. Others were Samantha Erskine, Emmanuella Obeng-Koranteng, Emmanuella Ako-Nai, Grace Wood, and Franka-Maria Andoh.

Based on the successes of Adabraka: Stories from the Centre of the World and Larabanga: Short Stories from the Savannah, the #AidooCentre prepared itself for its third regional anthology: a call for stories from the Volta Region.

However, COVID-19 happened, and everything shut down. From March 2020, the nation was placed under a lockdown. And so the #AidooCentre altered its focus; it invited writers to submit original experiences during the period of COVID-19 stay-home isolation in the form of short stories for an anthology to be called ‘Lockdown’. All styles and sub-genres including humor and stories with experimental narratives were welcome, but they had to be creative nonfiction.

The book features sixteen authors including three men, four non-Ghanaians from Japan, the United Kingdom and the USA.

The dominant theme underlying The Lockdown anthology was the anxiety brought on by news of the pandemic. Each story was however presented as an account of strong characters in challenging circumstances that employ novel ways to triumph and celebrate the uniqueness of their situation. There was humor in the face of adversity as was expressed in Arthur’s Dear Diary, ijahra larry’s Pilolo, Apiah’s Lockdown story, and Agudu’s Fellow Ghanaians; there were epiphanies of simple pleasures in Wood’s Small Talk, Ofori-Acquah’s Transitions and Obeng- Koranteng’s That Secret Place. Faith was found in Taylor’s We’ve come this far and Abraham’s Grace isn’t afraid. And there wass gratitude in Miho Boateng’s Thank you, Andoh’s Twin Butterflies, Ako-Noi’s O Awuradze, and Lawrencia Owusu’s Answered Prayer. Running through all though was a thick strand of strong resolve and balance as is exemplified in Bruce Ofei’s Year of the rat and Erskine’s Grief.

In his welcome address, AUCC President Prof. Isaac Abeku Blankson emphasized the role of university education in increasing literacy for development, and encouraged the new authors to write about relevant themes for Ghanaian readers. “It’s important that we keep themes about development in the space for discussion,” he said.

In his keynote address, Ghana Association of Writers President Francis Gbormittah said Lockdown represents an insightful and stimulating commentary on our society. “The book will purposefully raise awareness of readers, equip them with knowledge and self-confidence, which are necessary to fully participate in the national developmental process. It will remove the sense of helplessness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so readers become agents of the change they desire in productivity and development,” he added.

The queenmother of Adabraka Naa Korkor Aadzieyi I, who is also the Executive Director of the literacy foundation Read4Me, launched the book. She applauded the new authors and praised the Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing for remaining consistent with its mission of ‘facilitating critical reading and creative writing’.

Former president of Ghana Book Publishers Association, and CEO of Smartline Publishing Ltd. Elliot Agyare gave the closing remarks. He said the genre of creative nonfiction is extremely important in fostering national development. “There’s so much around us for us to capture, document and write about creatively not only for our readers today, but also for those coming. Through creative nonfiction, we can contribute to the development conversation,” Mr. Agyare added.

Lockdown is the Aidoo Centre’s third anthology in three years following the previous years’ successful release and limited local tour of Adabraka: Stories from the Centre of the World and Larabanga: Stories from the Savannah.


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