4 February 2013

Ghana: GAW Must Cry for Rashid Pelpuo


There are many social and professional groups in Ghana with set objectives, missions and visions backed with constitutional provisions, but only a handful are duly registered and recognized, of which the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW) is one.

GAW is an assembly of writers, editors, publishers and others of the arts and creative industry. It brings some harmony among practitioners, champion their interests and serves as an authority over some issues of national importance.

Prominent writers, like Prof Attuquaye Okai, Prof Ama Atta Aidoo and Prof Akilagpa Sawyer are members. Though he has not been seen at any of our meetings, apart from last year's GAWBOFEST at the National Theater, President John Mahama, we learnt, is also a member.

Meetings are held two times in a month, a general meeting and a "GAW Sunday." The GAW Sunday is reserved for members to voluntarily submit their works for public critique and enjoyment.

At PAWA House, near Accra Girls Senior High School, every first Sunday in a month, members thrill themselves with text readings, drama, poetry recitals, music, stories and riddles. Sometimes, arrangements are made for students to participate.

The general meeting on January 19, 2013, was interesting. Attendance was massive and punctual. Earlier, General Secretary, Dr. Camynta Baesie at his office hinted of the coming of Hon Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, Wa Central MP to that meeting.

In a jiffy, through the meeting, presided over by President Kwasi Gyan-Appenteng, ex-editor of The Mirror, the Wa Central legislator quietly entered the grounds and sat just beside me. Just imagine the mood of having an 'honorable' by your side, hahahaha!

At one point, the president called for self introduction of participants. It has been the norm, anyway. We did introduce ourselves. The MP also did same softly and jovially, "My name is Rashid Pelpuo- a writer, politician and social activist," with a thunderous applause from members.

General Secretary, Dr. Camynta Baesie then said a bit about Hon Pelpuo, regarding his creativity. He narrated how he (Baesie) impressively recited one of Pelpuo's unpublished poems some years ago at Wa Central Park. He used the opportunity to persuade the legislator to use GAW to publish his works.

The financial statement of the association was very gloomy. Of the GH¢3, 000 debts, Mr. Pelpuo paid GH¢1, 000 to the leadership, promising to contact colleague MPs for further assistance, as soon as possible.

He assured that the Mahama administration would do all it could to develop the arts and creative industry. He told the group to get in touch with him in times of need.

This was responded to with a spontaneous standing ovation and applause by members, forcing the MP to smile and say, "The heavy applause means that I must end my speech here."

Having waited for a while, the MP then took French leave out of the meeting. His exit was not officially announced. Yet, some members also moved out briefly with him for some familiarization.

Coincidentally, on Monday, January 21, just two days after the GAW encounter, the man was appointed by President Mahama to control a new Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts as minister. What a joy for GAW?

Truly, I have never worked with Mr. Pelpuo, neither have I gone close to him for me to vouch for his competence in managing this ministry. But I am aware he is a development planner, architect and a quantity surveyor.

I also learnt he has served on the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary, Finance, Housing, Standing Orders, Trade, Industry and Tourism committees of parliament.

I have also not forgotten of his role as the Minister of Youth and Sports under late President Mills and the immediate past deputy parliamentary majority leader.

However, it has been said that a group within the arts and creative industry did register its displeasure at Pelpuo's nomination, requesting "one of their own" for the job.

Socio-political commentators said this forced the president to pull out the portfolio from the Wa Central MP and re-assigned him to a new Ministry of State at the Presidency in charge of Public-Private Partnership, eii...!

GAW is not wrong to mourn this abrupt change. Or should they take solace in the tag that the president himself is also a member? I am not familiar with Mrs. Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare, the new nominee for Mr. Pelpuo's initial ministry. I guess the anti-Pelpuo group is now comfortable!

What happens to the juicy promises of Mr. Pelpuo to GAW? Post or no post, GAW will want to see those promises fulfilled. He must also endeavor to continue patronizing meetings and programs since we're told he is a member.

NB: This article is dedicated to GAW vice-president, ex-Deputy Finance Minister in the Kufuor regime and also the 2012 Bolgatanga Central NPP parliamentary candidate, Dr. Gheysika Agambila.

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