The letter I received from a government agency was simple. “Dear Phillip Nyakpo,” it started.

By the time I read the first sentence, I knew it was serious.

“I’m writing to you from the State Library of Western Australia regarding your publication, Absolute Radio: The Inspiring Story of the First Private Radio in Ghana’s Western Region.”

“That was fast,” I told myself after reading that line. I released Absolute Radio worldwide on 6 September 2022, and the letter from the government agency came on 15 September, just nine days later. Search for “Absolute Radio book”

“This system has a way of tracking activities and people,” I thought.

The Obligation

The letter from the State Library of Western Australia continued, “As you are publishing in Western Australia you are required, under Legal deposit legislation, to deposit one copy with the State Library within 30 days of publication.”

In that short sentence, I realised for the first time that I had a “legal obligation “as a result of publishing the book – and I had no idea.

I was stunned.

The next sentence in the letter was however comforting.

“Your deposit enables us to create and preserve our heritage collection of Western Australian material.”

The book Absolute Radio is mostly “an African material.” The story comes from the culturally stylish twin city of Sekondi-Takoradi in Ghana. Having written the book after 15 years of continuous residency in Australia, the work qualified as a publication that was not just published in Australia, but has a traceable Australian DNA.

Forty-Four Chapters in Australia

All the interviews and research conducted for the book took place right here in Australia – including all the 70 people I talked to.

Many of the 44 chapters of the book were written in iconic places in Western Australia, including Kalbarri, Geraldton, Esperance, Margaret River, Albany and Rottnest Island.

The Author’s introduction I wrote in the book started with a strong Australian flavour.

“The energy and passion to tell the stories in this book started in Australia in 1996 where I learned to become a journalist.”

That was the introduction.

Obligation Fulfilled

On 20 September 2022, I walked into the State Library of Western Australia (State Archives), armed with a fresh hard copy of Absolute Radio. I greeted one of the smart librarians and announced that I had come to discharge my legal obligation of depositing a copy of my book.

The librarian smiled and asked to take the copy off me. I filled a simple form for the record and within five minutes, I walked away with a receipt to prove that I had fulfilled my legal obligation with the Absolute Radio book.

As I stepped away, the sentence from the letter I received kept echoing in my mind:

“Your deposit enables us to create and preserve our heritage collection of Western Australian material.”

I looked back and thought “that state institution will now discharge its mandate to preserve my work as part of a “heritage” collection.” 

It felt like a privilege.

Phillip Nyakpo is the author of Absolute Radio, an inspiring true story that examines the foundation of Ghana’s private broadcasting industry.