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Updated Jul 14, 2020
Sylvia Arthur, founder of the Library of Africa and the African Diaspora (LOATAD), photographed in the library in Accra, Ghana. (Nipah Dennis/AFP)
Sylvia Arthur, founder of the Library of Africa and the African Diaspora, photographed in the library in Accra, Ghana. (Nipah Dennis/AFP)

The Library of Africa and the African Diaspora (LOATAD) in the Ghanaian capital Accra is the product of a dream Ghanaian-British writer Sylvia Arthur had of opening a library dedicated to African literature. She founded the library, called Libreria Ghana, in 2017, and after an expansion and renovation it reopened to the public under the new name on July 1. For a small subscription fee, members can borrow books from the library.

In an interview on the literary platform Literandra’s YouTube channel, Arthur says she could afford to accumulate such a large collection of African and African diaspora works partly because African writers are not as highly valued in the market as Western writers. Her own collection forms the nucleus of LOATAD’s catalogue, which currently offers some 4,000 literary works by authors from across the continent—including world-renowned writers Chinua Achebe, Ayi Kwei Armah, J. M. Coetzee, and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o—and by African diaspora authors in the Caribbean, Europe, and the United States. 

On the LOATAD Facebook page, the library is described as a “decolonized space,” reflecting a broader cultural movement that seeks to reassess how cultural works from previously colonized nations and peoples are valued.

Books displayed on a shelf in the Library of Africa and the African Diaspora (LOATAD) in Accra, Ghana, founded by by Ghanaian-British writer Sylvia Arthur. (Nipah Dennis/AFP)
Books displayed on a shelf in the Library of Africa and the African Diaspora. (Nipah Dennis/AFP)

 

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