Entertainment of Sunday, 1 April 2018
Source: Elikem M. Aflakpui
It JAMMED at JAMRock
It ROCKED at JamROCK
No REST in the RESTaurant
A RANT in the restauRANT
These are the words of Ace Anan Ankomah whose book signing event I attended last Saturday in Accra. The words are so apt a description of what transpired I could not resist the temptation of using it this write-up.
As you may already know, I patronise a lot of literary and book-related events. However, in the list of writer-reader engagement events I have attended, a book signing is not one of them. For most of the events I have attended, especially book launches, signing books is one of the items on the programme outline. As a stand-alone event, the signing of Is There Not A Cause To Rant? authored by Ace Anan Ankomah is the first I have experienced. And what an event it was.
Against the convention of book signings as I have read about and seen in movies, the publishers of the book and organizers of this book signing, DAkpabli & Associates, did a few things to set this apart and make it memorable.
First, the event was held at a restaurant. Mostly, book signings are held at bookstores, libraries and other literary spaces. Then, there were awesome side attractions like the Y?? K? Gari Buffet, music by the author and music by the sensational Nene Narh.
The book signing brought Ace’s readers and fans to Jamrock to meet him but these side attractions made them stay at the restaurant for the duration of the event.
Now, a bit about Ace Anan Ankomah and Is There Not A Cause To Rant?. The blurb of the book describes the author as a stammering, public-spirited private legal practitioner and about the book, it says it is the product of the author clearing his chest about the Ghana he so dearly loves.
I like these two descriptions because they speak to the personality of the author and the value of the book in perfect terms. In our very politically polarised country, not so many lawyers engage the socio-political issues as much as Ace Ankomah does. And it is a blessing to the country and younger generations that he has put this experiences and thoughts about some the social and political happenings in the country in a book.
This should serve posterity well and even help the present generation to do our best part in making our nation great and strong.
When I arrived at the Jamrock Restaurant in the late afternoon on Saturday, the atmosphere was relaxed. With a soothing background music, people sat in groups around plates of food or bottles and glasses of drinks, others stood and engaged in what could only be interpreted as hearty conversations. Some others could not resist the beautiful ambiance of the restaurant and therefore took selfies, non-stop.
The place was arranged such that when you enter, the first person you see is Ace Ankomah. He sat behind a table decorated with the book and CDs of his album which were also on sale and for signing.
If he was not busy signing a book, talking to a friend or fan or punching keys on his phone, Ace would welcome you with a smile. That naturally drew you to his table and the interaction continued from there. It always ended with photo-op with the talented Kobby Blay behind the lens.
When I entered, Ace was busy so his smile did not welcome me. Which is not a bad thing because Jamrock Restaurant is set up to make you smile once you enter. I went to a few tables to say hi to familiar faces and pleased to meet you to new ones. After a while, I noticed that the table was free so I approached Ace’s throne of law and intelligence and interacted with him.
“Who should I sign it to?”
Then, he wrote, “Dear Elikem, Challenge Conventions. Change the World”. Such powerful statement! Time and space would not allow me to put how I felt about it in one piece. It is awesome how these short notes and a signature can spark up something in you. My smile knew no bounds as I shook hands with him and turned to face Kobby Blay’s camera for a kekraw.
For the rest of my time at the event, I did three things; enjoyed the beautiful space of the restaurant, interacted some more with the beautiful people who were there and observed. I will therefore end today’s piece with some things I noticed about this book signing event.
It was beyond the book.
For many authors, book signings are primarily a way to sell their books. But this book signing was more than that. The organisers and the author did not sell, they gave out, freely, things worth more than the book. Relationships, a good time with friends and family, networks and for me and many other young people who came, it was an opportunity to tap into the greatness of the author, interact with him and learn a thing or two from him. The good part was that the author was not the only influential person at the place. Therefore, the opportunity to come into contact with so many people you have admired from afar was really great. It was truly beyond the book.
It was also beyond the restaurant.
I have already mentioned how, ordinarily, it is usually the case that book signings are done at bookstores. It is so because it helps to get people in the store. The event helps the host or venue as much as it helps the author.
This Saturday, as I observed, I knew that this was beyond business for the owner of the restaurant, Jamrock. Eliza Olympio is the best host you can ever get. A book enthusiast herself and a person very interested in the socio-political happenings in the country, I noticed that this event was more about the cause of books, reading in Ghana and the cause Ace Ankomah champions in his book. She participated in the event as much as other patrons did, interacted with as many people and took the most selfies.
Eliza has given out her space for more book events than some libraries and literary spaces have done in the country. She and Jamrock must be celebrated for their contribution to literature in Ghana. Jamrock rocks!
My first book signing event has increased my taste buds for more of these. I urge many more writers to organize events like it, or not like this but still as awesome as this or more awesome than this. I would definitely be there and I will definitely write about it. I’m all about the literature because I want to help make it better.
I wish you all a happy Easter and may the holidays be meaningful to you. It can only get better and we can only get better.