By NANA AKYEMPO
For me, reading is to the human mind what food is to the stomach or music to the soul; they are meant for each other. It is the kind of romance that produces offspring that are a testament to their parents’ wise decision making. It is a genuine and organic romance; the love between books and the human mind. Any design that contradicts this, as far as I’m concerned, is merely an agent of chaos and darkness. There is a reason those who read, the learned, are called enlightened.
In spite of the radiance and necessity of this romance, too many of us have become agents of chaos. We have subconsciously lent ourselves to the unfortunate scheme of being deprived of knowledge and the rich experiential process of acquiring it. Where we lack knowledge due to our habit of reading little or not at all, we become puppet zombies, manipulated by those who have power, those who have read and choose to interpret as they deem fit, even if such interpretation is ill-founded.
It is therefore a courageous thing indeed, when someone makes the effort to re-constitute the tragically occupied zombie space. It is more than that. It is beautiful. It is a beautiful thing to encourage others to read, to step out of the shadows of oblivion and assert themselves as wardens of knowledge. It is a kind of freedom fighting; for it sets people on the path of a liberated existence, one that is fully experienced because life is richly understood.
In an environment where little premium is placed on quality and comprehensive education, least of all reading, it is rather difficult to assemble a group of people who are truly book lovers. In cases where reading seems to be encouraged, it is discharged like a perfunctory chore, spruced up for the cameras to score points.
The Makings of a Ghana Book Club
Sip & Swap, an initiative by Nana Konamah of Brunch Over Books, is terrifyingly daring. It miraculously draws people of different stories together like a unified chorus who sing songs of hope but who are in and of themselves a fulfilling slice of hope. The people you meet at Sip & Swap are each a collection of their own stories, but what unites them all is the commonality of their theme – they are all madly in love with books! Most importantly, they represent a little but strong glint of hope, that there are still people who are not just hungry for growth, but hungry enough to allow themselves to be duly satisfied by books.
Love is a powerful thing! For what other force is there that can sit a college freshman and an award-winning writer at the same table, with nothing but drinks, food and the exciting buzz of exchanging book narratives? What else can remove the barrier of awkwardness that may otherwise exist? It was at Sip & Swap that I met and engaged with individuals who I look up to, in a manner that neither created room for intimidation nor discomfort.
Sip & Swap: A Book Lovers’ Delight
At Sip & Swap, you get to bring your books along and listen to book lovers pitch their own books to you, in an attempt to get you to exchange books with them. It is a respectable and healthy way to strike new acquaintances, make new friends and establish business partnerships, all the while discussing books you love. And of course, there is food; tongue-pampering options to enjoy at Sip & Swap, partly thanks to the fantastic venues it is always hosted . Tea Baa hosted the last Sip & Swap and the only word that comes to mind in attempting to perfectly capture the experience is “magical”!
Brace yourselves bibliophiles, because some 2017 magic is coming your way on the 29th of January. The next assembly of a new breed of freedom fighters, book lovers and chasers of knowledge is going to be on the rooftop of Vida e Caffe in Labone. This will be one delicious brunch that you will not be able to forget in a hurry, so save the date and thank me later!
Save the date! The next Sip & Swap is on Sunday 29th January at 3pm, at Vida e Caffe. RSVP and thank me later!
Nana Akyempo is a poet and writer. His poems and essays have been published or are forthcoming on Brittle Paper, African Writer, Kpodola and Three Sixty Ghana. The 2016 winner of the Three Sixty Writers’ Challenge, his poems and essays can also be found on his blog.
Photos by Brunch Over Books.