The Executive Committee and members of the Ghana Association of Writers were profoundly shocked by news of the death of Efo Mawugbe, one of Ghana’s most creative and prolific writers of the modern era. The sad irony was that Efo died just a few days before the first ever GAW Book Festival, dubbed GAWBOFEST 2011, was held at the Aviation Social Centre in Accra. What few of the more than one thousand people who converged on the venue for that historic event knew was that Efo was one of the few people in a small circle of GAW executives and members that first discussed the idea. It was therefore more than fitting that Professor Ama Aidoo who chaired the opening ceremony called for a minute’s silence and paid glowing tribute to our departed brother at the beginning of the Festival.
Efo joined GAW in the late 1970s when he was a student at the University of Ghana and carried the message of GAW to every corner of the country and beyond where he found himself for personal and professional reasons. The message simply was that cultural, artistic and literary pursuits were professional engagements and deserved both respect and rewards but that the people involved must come together in strength and solidarity to claim whet they deserve. Writers across the country respect and admire Efo for his steadfast commitment to the cause of literature and its integrity which is why he is held in such high esteem.
Efo did not just write but did so for a purpose, and the purpose was to enhance our cultural traditions and establish their many points of convergence as a means of promoting national unity. Elsewhere in this brochure, Efo’s literary output has been detailed so there is no point going over them, but the central point is that they all belong to a canon that shared moral optimism, human rights, especially for the oppressed and a bold affirmation of the credo that right will triumph at the end.
Efo was a huge influence in literary circles not only in Ghana but beyond, but his authority was most felt in the spirit and endeavours of young writers who saw him rightly as the paragon of patriotic expression in the creation of literary content. Efo devoted a lot of time mentoring young writers and toured schools and colleges, often at his own expense.
When the current Executive Committee of the Association was elected in October 2010 Efo was given the honour of chairing the induction ceremony, which he did with his usual aplomb His message was consistent: GAW must prioritise the training of the youth. He said he was personally committed to the setting up of a magazine for the students and youth outreach programme and would contribute his own money to it.
There were plans, concrete plans in which he would take a leading role for the future of the Association. Unfortunately, death has taken Efo away from us at the height of his powers, and most of us have lost not only a writer colleague but a personal friend who exuded kindness from every pore. Luckily, Efo did not just hover above the sands of his time but left deep and abiding footprints in every direction, so although he is no longer with us, his fierce intellectual output has ensured that he will not be forgotten.
Efo, sleep well.