Bringing African Voices to Children’s Literature


By Leon Ong’onge

The market for children’s books in Africa is dominated by literature from outside the continent, much of which does not relate to the realities of African readers. This has inspired Aspen Institute 2013 New Voices Fellow Deborah Ahenkorah to start Golden Baobab, an organization that has fostered the creation of more than 850 stories for children and young adults since its inception five years ago and is now renowned for its annual Golden Baobab Literary Prize. Ahenkorah was identified in 2011 by Playing for Change Foundation as one of Ghana’s "leading social entrepreneurs working to make the world a better place for children and youth." She is also a World Economic Forum Global Shaper for Accra, Ghana. Ahenkorah recently received the New Voices Fellowship at the Aspen Institute for her work to improve child literacy. She sat down with AllAfrica’s Leon Ong’onge to talk about her project, Golden Baobab.

What inspired you to start Golden Baobab?

Children’s literature is very important to me. Before I started Golden Baobab, I had started another organization that promoted literacy on the African continent by collecting donated books and raising money in the United States to support schools and libraries across Africa. That work was great, but I realized that I could have greater impact if I made books that children would relate to because they reflected their cultural identity. I think if you are able to make children love reading, they can discover the joy of reading at an early age and a lot of adult literacy problems would then be solved. Also, books allow children the opportunity to have a childhood full of joy, laughter and imagination, which is not available to many children on the continent.

How can writers submit their work to be considered for the Golden Boabab Prize?

We are currently calling for submissions. The next deadline is July 14. Writers should submit unpublished stories, to be adjudicated by…

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