Ama Asantewa Diaka is a Ghanaian storyteller, constantly renewing her faith in God and people.
FFGH: What is your conception of African writing, and Ghanaian writing specifically? Do you accept being categorized as a Ghanaian writer? I guess that’s actually two questions.
AAD: African writing is literature that embodies African experiences. It’s writing that explores any African individual or group of people on the continent’s thoughts, expression, joys, and their nuanced livelihood. By that definition I am and can only be, a Ghanaian writer. My writing is influenced by my identity as a Ghanaian woman.
FFGH: You have evolved as an artist, writer and creator. I think most people know you for your poetry and fiction. Can you tell us a bit more about your work with Tampered Press, Yobbings, and your music?
AAD: I started Tampered in 2018 because I saw a lack of Ghanaian representation in the writing scene, both locally and internationally. As much as I believe in the value of international spaces, I felt that it was necessary to have a platform specific to Ghanaians. It is important to have a space that allows us to show our work, become better writers and discover other Ghanaian writers and artists. It’s been a challenging journey, mainly because I have to approach it not only as a literary project, but also a marketable project. The Tampered team is currently made up of 3 people, and we are committed to both quality content, and consistency of the journal both in print and online.
Yobbings is a small greeting card line that I started 5 years ago. I had been sitting on the idea of creating a tailored product for a while. It isn’t my first entrepreneurial venture (I have tried and failed a number of those), but it’s the one that’s been running for the longest, and just expanded to include a US store. I’m excited about its growth!
And my music – I used to sing a lot when I was younger. When I started performing poetry, I felt very insecure about my singing and rarely did it. But the thing about growing as an artist is that you give yourself permission to go beyond your comfort zone and experiment more. And that’s why my projects are a fusion of both poetry and music.
FFGH: That seems like work that involves a lot of talent in the use of words. How has the development of your writing been important for all these endeavours? Is there something you can attribute the development of your writing to?
AAD: At the core of all of these projects is my writing – and this has developed me as a writer, a person and a business owner. I am learning to be a constructive reader, to be a good editor for Tampered, a better copywriter, designer and marketer for Yobbings. And a better songwriter by knowing when to ditch the rules in writing for the page and when to let melody lead the way. It’s been both great and hard to have the core of my creative process be from a writing foundation. The tension and newness of these projects is constantly sculpting my writing. I see it in the way I introduce things I formerly wasn’t, how important it is to me to write through an empathetic lens no matter the subject, and in how excessively critical I am of my work and its impact.
FFGH: Wonderful. Your story, “For Girls Who Do Not Know What’s Good for Them” was published in our Kenkey for Ewes anthology. Was flash fiction a form you ever considered writing in?
AAD: The first form I ever wrote in was flash fiction. The very first writing I remember doing was in class 4. One of my classmates gave me an empty exercise book and asked me to fill it with a story per page. So fiction – flash fiction, is the first kind of writing I ever did before the other genres. I remember doing that for a while before experimenting with other forms. There was a time that I didn’t even think I could write anything but flash fiction, so it’s a form I’m familiar with.
FFGH: What are you currently reading?
AAD: Small Victories by Anne Lamott and The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch.
FFGH: What writing project(s) are you currently working on?
AAD: My own writing project that I’m currently working on – I cannot share this just yet (sorry lol) but I’m excited and I can’t wait to reveal. However, I am currently contributing to a digital publication by Black Girls Glow that seeks to navigate conversations about artists and their work.
FFGH: I guess we’ll have to wait till your new work is out then. In the meantime, we’ll be checking out Black Girls Glow. Do you have any advice for writers struggling to complete writing projects?
AAD: You’ve got to do the work, there’s no way around it, you can’t avoid it, you can’t bullshit your way through it, you can’t fake it, you can’t finesse your way through it. You just have to make time (and will), stay committed and do the work. In conclusion, get off the internet and go write.
FFGH: Any future collaboration or projects you would like to have or see in the Ghanaian literary space?
AAD: A robust local publishing and distribution endeavour, one that spans across the whole of Ghana, uses all the media channels, (traditional and digital), and is heavy on collaboration.