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We are very excited to share that Deborah Ahenkorah, Co-founder and Executive Director of Golden Baobab has been honored with the 2015 Grinnell Prize for Social Justice Innovators. Every year, the prestigious Grinnell Prize recognizes two young innovators from around the world who are creating change with a social justice lens and this initiative is the brain-child of Grinnell College, a private liberal arts college in Iowa. It gives a $100,000 cash award to the innovative leader and their organization.  

The prize ceremony took place on Monday, October 26th 2015 at the Herrick Chapel, on the Grinnell College campus and gave a $100,000 cash award to Deborah Ahenkorah, Golden Baobab and its publishing arm, African Bureau for Children’s Stories. “We are highly honored by this prestigious recognition,” says Deborah, “In our field of work it is sometimes hard to connect with people who see your complete vision and fully understand your approach. The Grinnell Prize’s support validates our work, our efforts, our vision and the thought process behind it all.”

The second winner of the prize, Maria Vertkin, is the Creator and Executive Director of Found in Translation, and is also an Echoing Green fellow. Both Maria and Deborah gave incredible speeches upon receiving their awards. 

 

Click to watch Deborah’s speech: 

 

Click to watch Maria’s speech: 

 

Click to watch the Q & A session from both winners:

  

President Kington of Grinnell College commented, “When I created this program in 2010, my goal was to honor people who are modeling the Grinnellian ideal of learning in the service of social commitment…as the program has matured and thrived, I have come to see that it is also a powerful way to connect our students and community with exceptional social innovators.”

The ceremony culminated in a showing of the prize paintings created by artist Tillly Woodward of the Faulconer Gallery, and commissioned by Grinnell College to commemorate the winners.

Grinnell Prize painting of Golden Baobab created by artist Tillly Woodward  

As part of the prize celebrations, the Falconer Gallery at Grinnell College launched an exhibition of the finalists illustrations from the inaugural Golden Baobab Prize for African Illustrators. The installation is featured under the title “Current Styles in African Illustration.” For more on the exhibition kindly visit: http://www.grinnell.edu/about/offices-services/faulconer-gallery/exhibitions

Some of the finalists illustrations from the inaugural Golden Baobab Prize for African Illustrators 

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The Grinnell-Newburg school district in Iowa has recently organized a contest to mirror the prestigious Golden Baobab Prizes, and to recognize the opportunities it creates for writers and illustrators of children’s literature across Africa. This rising author and rising illustrator competition targeted children from 3rd to 8th grade, and received an overwhelming response from students in the community. There were multiple writing and illustration workshops organized before the competition deadline, to give tips and encourage interested contestants. The competition was set up as part of the celebrations of the 2015 Grinnell Prize for Social Justice Innovators which Golden Baobab recently won

Judges Deborah Ahenkorah, Golden Baobab staff member, Eunice Ahenkorah and Maria Vertkin, the second Grinnell Prize winner, also lent her support

 

Judges Deborah Ahenkorah, Golden Baobab staff member, Eunice Ahenkorah and Maria Vertkin, the second Grinnell Prize winner, also lent her support

(Pictures above: The judges of the contest hard at work deliberating over the entries) 

In a speech at the award ceremony, Deborah commented, “I am so thankful to the organizers from the school district, the community and Grinnell College for this wonderful initiative. Judging the student entries was such a delight! It was incredible to see the time, effort and thought behind each story and artwork. I am happy to know that Golden Baobab has left an indelible mark on Grinnell.”

There were 6 writing and illustration categories. 12 winners and honorable mentions were awarded books and gift cards during the award ceremony at the Grinnell Middle School. The contest submissions will be compiled and published as a book and offered to the winners as well. This was a great initiative to engage the children from the Grinnell-Newburg community.

The winners and honorable mentions from the contest receive their prizes.

 

The 8th grade winning entrants showing off their submissions to the crowd.

(Pictures above: The winners and honorable mentions from the contest receive their prizes)

 

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We had the pleasure of having our Executive Director, Deborah Ahenkorah as a guest storyteller during the Grinnell Prize week celebrations. The event at the Drake Community Library was well attended by young kids, parents and supporters from the Grinnell community.

The children in attendance sat on the floor in rap attention and were very engaged as Deborah narrated the story traditionally without reading directly from the book.

(Picture above: Deborah at the storytelling event in Grinnell, Iowa)

Golden Baobab Prize shortlisted story, Abena and the Corn Seed, written by Ghanaian author Vivian Amanor 

(Picture above: Golden Baobab Prize shortlisted story, Abena and the Corn Seed, by Ghanaian author Vivian Amanor)

At the start of the story time event, Deborah was introduced by Golden Baobab staff Eunice Ahenkorah, who also was in attendance. Deborah performed an oral storytelling of a Golden Baobab Prize shortlisted story, which has now been published into a book. The book chosen was Abena and the Corn Seed, written by Ghanaian author Vivian Amanor, and is available for purchase here: http://www.osuchildrenslibraryfund.ca/publications/book-catalogue/

The children’s story time event kicked off the week long celebration of the 2015 Grinnell Prize for Social Justice Innovators which Golden Baobab recently won

The event continued with an art session where the kids made African ceremonial masks from paper and rafia.

(Picture above: Deborah with a young girl at the community library wearing a hand-made face mask)

The event continued with an art session where the kids made African ceremonial masks from paper and rafia.

 (Picture above: Deborah and Eunice with a young boy at the community library wearing a hand-made face mask)

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2015 marks the 7th anniversary of the Golden Baobab Prizes and we are proud to celebrate the incredible triumph this prize has become in a very short time. To mark this milestone, we are re-vamping and improving the Golden Baobab Prizes as well as reviewing several exciting opportunities to deliver increased programming to support African writers and illustrators and to promote African children's literature. The next season of the Golden Baobab Prizes for African Literature and Illustration will open in 2016. We are currently not accepting submissions for the literature or illustration prizes in 2015. Once the prizes open, we will present our new submission guidelines and all relevant details on our website and social media. In the meantime, don't be strangers! Follow us and let's chit-chat on our facebook and twitter @goldenbaobab.

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The 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes unveiled some exciting creative writers and illustrators from all over Africa who present incredibly diverse talents. We received nearly 300 submissions from over the African continent and diaspora and narrowed them down to three deserving winners across different categories. Nigerian writer, Mary Okon Ononokpono and Ghanaian author, Portia Dery won the prizes in literature and South African artist, Xanele Puren won the inaugural illustrator’s prize. We are excited to share with the world some of the amazing work of the prize winners and finalists, through these well received media highlights. Do check them out below and enjoy!

Leave a comment and have your say! Tell us what you think or which illustrations are your favorite.

Click to watch Mary Okon Ononokpono, Winner of 2014 Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Book on France24

 

Click to watch Mary Okon Ononokpono’s interview with This Day Live

 

Click to listen to Portia Dery, Winner of 2014 Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Book and Xanele Puren, Winner of 2014 Golden Baobab Prize for African Illustrators on BBC Africa  

 

Click to read Okay Africa’s 10 African Children's Illustrators To Know, which feature the ten finalists of the inaugural Golden Baobab Prize for African Illustrators.

Image courtesy of okayafrica.com 

 

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