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Golden Baobab has extended the deadline for submissions of its Literature Prizes to midnight GMT on Monday, July 21, 2014.  This decision came about when several writers faced difficulties during the submission process.

Prize Coordinator, Delali Kumapley says, “This is a mop-up exercise; we realized a lot of people made unsuccessful attempts to submit to the Prizes so we decided to give writers two more weeks to make their entry submissions. Those who submitted to the Prizes and did not receive acknowledgment and those who intended to enter the competition should take advantage of this opportunity. Again, we wish to apologize for any inconvenience that was caused during the submission process.”

The extension will not affect the evaluation process; everything will go on as scheduled and the winners of the various prizes will be announced in November this year.

To submit stories to the Prizes, visit: http://www.goldenbaobab.org/prizes/submissions/submit-your-story

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Every few weeks, I meet someone who tells me they want to be a writer. Quite often they say they want to write for children or have started writing to give their children something more fun to read. They work in the evenings, after long days behind desks and putting little ones to bed. They tell me they have been workin on it for 6 months or 6 years. All of them want to know how to get published. Many of them imagine it will be much more glamorous and profitable than it’s really likely. Quite a few of them have multiple books they have abandoned, half or a quarter way because they could not find inspiration or had ran out of ideas. I must have met dozens of people with this story in the last 5 years or so. There must be thousands of these hopeful storytellers across Africa but where do all their stories go? Very few of them are ever published by a traditional trade publisher. To be fair, there are very few strictly trade or children’s book publishers on our continent to begin with.

Writing textbooks or other educational materials would certainly be a more sensible and reliable source of income for those who wish to write professionally for children. We have not begun to fully mine the potential of technology to unleash our stories into the world. Why haven’t we? I could point to the many institutional roadblocks and structural inequalities of the publishing world. I could lament our odd preference for work from beyond our own shores.

Today, I’d like to talk about fear. This is the one thing that all those who have told me they want to be writers have in common. They are afraid they can’t finish writing their book or it won’t be good enough if they do, afraid of the inevitable rejection letters or their book won’t sell. I am not immune to these fears. For years, my particular brand of fear was that people would think that I couldn’t really write if I chose to write solely for children. My fear fuelled my excuses for not doing the only thing that would actually make me a ‘real’ writer: writing. I have a theory that this is why after many years as Africa’s only Pan-African children’s literature prize; Golden Baobab only received 180 story submissions for the 2013 prize. 180 stories? On a continent with billions of people? That is deeply depressing, especially since we have no shortage of writers; just a shortage of opportunities.

The Golden Baobab Prize and its writing and illustration workshops, represent one of the few, reasonably accessible opportunities to become a real writer. The stories submitted are written by Africans and for African children, in settings that are relatable, with characters not so unlike the children themselves. So why aren’t there more entries? Where do all our stories go? They go nowhere and we are going nowhere as long as this is the case. Stories can be as powerful as bullets. They can shift perspectives and ignite passions. They can keep our history and heritage alive. They can change the future for one child and a whole family. If you want to be a writer, you don’t need to keep telling everyone. This week could be your chance. I’ve already submitted my entry to the Golden Baobab Prize. Where is yours?

 

 

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 A few weeks ago, we started our search for our very first Golden Baobab Media Fellow! The Golden Baobab Media Fellowship is a highly selective program that provides journalists or journalism students the opportunity to write articles and features to promote the children’s literature scene in Africa, while gaining exposure. We received many impressive applications and we are happy to say that after a thorough evaluation we have settled on our first ever Media Fellow and we are excited to introduce her to you!

Her name is Bontle Senne from South Africa and for the next six (6) months, she will be helping to raise awareness about Golden Baobab’s work through well-written, creative and informative pieces which will be published all over Africa.

Profile of Bontle Senne

Bontle is a blogger, web editor, speaker and literary activist on the board of NPO Puku Children's Literature Foundation and NPO READ Educational Trust. She writes stories for FunDza Literary Trust and regularly speaks on social media and children's literature at international literary festivals and conferences including the University of South Africa's Children's Reading Conference 2012, Frankfurt International Book Fair 2012 and 2013, Salon du Livre (Paris Book Fair) 2013, Etonnants Voyageurs - Brazzaville, Congo 2013 and Etonnants Voyageurs - Saint Malo, France 2013. She also presented the fourth annual Beyers Naude Memorial Lecture at the University of the Free State in 2012.

We welcome Bontle to the Golden Baobab team! Watch out for her articles!

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On Saturday, 14th June, 2014, Mamle will facilitate a Master Class on Writing for Children. This Master Class is being organized by Mbaasem in partnership with Golden Baobab and is being funded by The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) and The Royal Bank Limited.

Mamle Wolo is a writer of Ghanaian and German parentage. She was born and raised in Ghana until the age of 14 when she moved to the United Kingdom. She completed her secondary schooling there, after which she studied at the University of Cambridge, where she obtained her B.A and M.A in Modern Languages and her MPhil in Latin-American Studies. She returned to Ghana in 1992 where she has since been resident and works as an independent Ghanaian consultant working in development and specializing in the fields of Education, Gender and Child Labour.

Mamle took up fiction writing in the late 1990s and has since written numerous short stories, all of which have been published in various anthologies and journals in Africa, the UK and the US. One of these is The End of Skill which was nominated for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2009.  Mamle also won the first prize in the 2011 Burt Award for children’s writing for her story, The Kaya Girl, scooping the top prize for an unpublished manuscript.

In July this year, Mamle will be a lead facilitator of the first creative non-fiction writers workshop in Kampala, Uganda, which is being organized by The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) and the Uganda Women Writers Association (FEMRITE).

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“These are high level meetings and most of the time, there are no representations for the arts or children. It’s an economic meeting where they discuss health, security, etc. But what about issues related to the arts, authors, illustrations, children and what we are feeding their minds with?  So it was an honor to have been part of this extremely important discussion to contribute our perspectives to how we think the future of Africa should be shaped.”

Those were the words of Executive Director of Golden Baobab, Deborah Ahenkorah, who was present at this year’s World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja. The World Economic Forum is an international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation. It engages political, business, academic and other leaders of society in collaborative efforts to shape global, regional and industry agenda.  Together with other stakeholders, it works to define challenges, solutions and actions, always in the spirit of global citizenship.

During the forum, Miss Ahenkorah was on a panel that discussed Education in Africa and she recalls, “I shared on education and my view was - as much as education focuses on quality, it should not over-run the basics of what information you are providing the children.  As we are building schools and libraries, we should pay extreme attention to what our children are being taught because this influences their thinking pattern.” 

The World Economic Forum was preceded by a three-day Summit of Global Shapers in Africa. Global Shapers Summit is a gathering of 100 young people in Africa who are doing interesting works that are impacting the continent. Participants of the summit interacted with Rwandan President, Paul Kagami and Former President of Brazil, Lula Da Silva. The highlight for Miss Ahenkorah was when Former Brazilian President walked into the room to a rousing applause and according to her, “Mr. Lula went round to shake the hand of every single Global Shaper, looking each of us in the face with a genuine smile. Key take away from the summit's conversation was: you don't need qualifications to bring about change. You only need to listen to the problems of your people and solve the problems. It's not politics; it's problem solving.”    

 

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