Golden Baobab

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Winners of the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes poster


We are proud to present the winners of the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes:

  • Portia Dery, from Ghana wins the Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Books with her story, Grandma's List.
  • Mary Ononokpono, from Nigeria, wins the Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books for her story, Talulah the Time Traveler.
  • Xanele Puren, from South Africa, wins the inaugural Golden Baobab Prize for Illustrators. The Golden Baobab Prize for Illustrators is the biggest and most prestigious prize committed to discovering, nurturing and celebrating talented African illustrators of children's stories.

The 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes for Literature and Illustration received nearly 300 submissions from writers and illustrators across Africa. The longlist for the literature prizes was announced early September and showcased 11 stories, selected from 6 African countries. The shortlist followed late October with 11 stories from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The illustration prizes unveiled 3 shortlisted artists; 2 from South Africa and 1 from Ghana. This year's prize winners represent three countries: Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.

Congrats Mary, Portia and Xanele!!

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Judges 2014

Golden Baobab has announced the judges for the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes. Established to inspire the writing and publishing of African stories that captivate the minds of children, the prizes award $20,000 to talented African writers and illustrators. 

The 2014 judges are:

  • Summer Edward, Anansesem Caribbean Children’s Literature Ezine founder and editor, Children’s publishing consultant
  • Nancy Drost, Seasoned international educator, Golden Baobab board member
  • Kinna Likimani, Mbaasem Foundation board member, Celebrated book critic (
  • Doreen Baingana, Multiple award-winning Ugandan author, Former chairperson FEMRITE
  • Nonikiwe Mashologu, African children’s literature critic, South African literacy activist
  • Kananengo Diallo, 13-year old Tanzanian winner of the 2013 Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Writers
  • Paul O. Zelinsky, International Award-winning American Illustrator and Writer, Caldecott Medalist
  • Akua Peprah, Early Childhood Educator
  • Kofi Kokua Asante Anyimadu, 8-year old Ghanaian book lover

“We are excited about working with our 2014 judges to discover and celebrate some of the best children’s story writers and illustrators in Africa today,” says the Executive Director of Golden Baobab. “In this 6th year of the prizes, we are proud of the contribution we are making to the children’s literature world and are actively searching for exciting partnerships to expand our reach and impact across Africa. We are seeking major corporate partnerships by our next prize season to further propel our vision of making the heads of children across Africa beautiful places for them to live!”

Full details about the judges can be found here:

The winners of the Golden Baobab Prizes will be announced on November 13, 2014

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2014 Shortlist Golden Baobab Prizes for Literature


We are delighted to announce the shortlist for the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes for African Children's Literature.

The shortlisted writers are:

The Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Books

  • Portia Dery (Ghana) – Grandma’s List
  • Shaleen Keshavjee-Gulam (Kenya) – Malaika’s Magical Kiosk
  • Mandy Collins (South Africa) – There is a Hyena in my Kitchen
  • Mike Mware (Zimbabwe) – The Big Ball

The Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books

  • Bontle Senne (South Africa) – The Monster at Midnight
  • Mamle Wolo (Ghana) – Flying through Water
  • Mary Okon Ononokpono (Nigeria) – Talulah the Time Traveller
  • Hillary Molenje Namunyu (Kenya) – Teddy Mapesa and the Missing Cash
  • Jayne Bauling (South Africa) – The Saturday Dress

No stories from the Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Writers made it onto this year's shortlist. The winners of the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes for Literature as well as the winners and shortlist for the Golden Baobab Prizes for Illustrators will be announced on November 13, 2014. A hearty congratulations to all writers who have made it this far!

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The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo is a documentary produced and directed by Yaba Mangela Badoo, a shortlisted writer for Golden Baobab Prizes in 2012, which celebrates and explores the artistic contribution of one of Africa’s foremost writers and patron of Golden Baobab, Ama Ata Aidoo.

The feature-length documentary charts Ama Ata Aidoo's creative journey in a life that spans seven decades from colonial Ghana, through the tumultuous era of independence, to a more sober present day Africa where nurturing women's creative talent remains as hard as ever.

The documentary was premiered last week at the British council in Accra. Among the audience were Golden Baobab’s Executive Director, Deborah Ahenkorah, Abena Karikari, a participant of the Masterclass jointly organized by Mbaasem Foundation and Golden Baobab as well this year's  longlisted writer for Early Chapter Book Prize, Ricky Ansong.

         b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG-20140923-WA0003.jpg    b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG-20140923-WA0004_20140924-163015_1.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG-20140923-WA0000.jpg

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Here are the seven longlisted writers for this year's Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books:

b2ap3_thumbnail_Mary-Okon.jpgMary Okon Ononokpono is a British based writer, artist and illustrator. Born in Calabar, Nigeria, Mary moved to the United Kingdom as a baby and has lived there ever since. Mary has a passion for African arts, culture and history. With a background in design and journalism, Mary has been featured in numerous Pan-African publications. Following a brief return to Nigeria in December 2012, Mary turned her hand towards creative writing.

Mary says, “I'm delighted to discover that I've been long-listed for this prestigious award! This is the first story Children's story I've written so it comes as a complete shock. My daughter, who happens to be my inspiration for the story is even more delighted than me.”

Talulah the Time Traveller - Talulah Taiwo is an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Talulah is an inventor that happens to be obsessed with coding. She lives with her Mum (an independent architect) and with her trusty sidekick, Karma, an intelligent jet black cat. Talulah's latest app has been entered into the 'Minds of Tomorrow' science fair, but Mum is unable to take her due to a looming deadline and poor organisation skills. Disappointed at the thought of Mum letting her down again, Talulah decides to take matters into her own hands. She creates a shock inducing time management app to help Mum keep to time. However in her haste, she accidentally enters part of the code incorrectly. Upon testing the app, Talulah finds herself suddenly transported to an ancient Egyptian city. The trouble is, the unexpected power surge has drained the battery on her tablet. Aided by Karma, a gang of cats, and a curious Egyptian boy, Talulah sets about finding a solution to her problem. Will they get the tablet to work so that she can get back home in time for the fair?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Jayne.jpgJayne Bauling's Young Adult novels have won the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa, the Maskew Miller Longman Literature Award and the Sanlam Gold Prize for Youth Literature. The most recent, Dreaming of Light, was chosen for the 2014 IBBY Honour List. Her short stories for adults and youth have been published in a number of anthologies. She lives in White River in Mpumalanga, South Africa. 

“As a long-time admirer of Golden Baobab’s commitment to African stories, I’m honoured and thrilled that my story should have made the 2014 long-list for this prestigious award. Congratulations to everyone else on the list and good luck to us all.” Jayne remarked after receiving news she had  been longlisted for the Golden Boabab Prize for Early Chapter Book.

The Saturday Dress - Mavi isn’t too happy about being sent to live with his grandparents in Kabokweni, and discovering that one of his teachers, Ms Mabuza, is their next door neighbour adds to his woes. Things aren’t exactly easy at his new school either, where his only friend seems to be Gcina, but he soon finds himself distracted by a number of mysteries. Matchboxes and money are being hidden in some strange places in his area, and then there’s the child’s dress that hangs on Ms Mabuza’s washing line every Saturday – when there is no child in the house. In trying to solve the matchbox mystery, Mavi makes a mistake which leads to him being misjudged, and he does something terrible in response. How will he ever put things right?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Ricky-Dankwa-Ansong.jpgRicky Dankwa Ansong was born in June, 1990 in the bustling city of Accra, Ghana. Ricky developed a love for reading at an early age but he didn’t think he was good enough to write something worth reading. It was only in his second year of high school in Saint Augustine’s College (Cape Coast) that he ventured to write his first novel “Basic Interest” which he never published. In his third year at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, while studying Business Administration, Ricky decided to share his talent with the world.

“I had to take a walk to calm my racing heart. While I did that, I kept repeating the words: God, I thank you.” That was what Ricky did when he received the news he had been longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prizes.

Kweku Ananse: The Tale of the Wolf and the Moon - Sakraman, the wolf, is poor and has no friends. He has nothing to harvest from his farm and, thus, suffers the wrath of Kweku Ananse due his inability to pay the cunning spider what he owes him. The Wolf’s bad luck ends when the Moon hears his plea and decides to offer him help. Soon, the Wolf and the Moon become best friends and the wolf becomes very rich. The cunning spider, Kweku Ananse, follows the Wolf around the Kingdom to discover the source of Wolf’s good fortune. When Ananse discovers the truth behind the Wolf’s wealth, his greedy heart hatches a plan to take it all for himself.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Dina.jpgDina Mousa was born in 1984 and grew up in Cairo, Egypt. She graduated from business school majoring in business administration. She started traveling at the age of 24 and moved to South Korea in 2010. She's a wife, animal lover, author, and a traveler.

Dina narrated,  "I was checking my inbox as I do every morning. I saw the email from Golden Baobab, I read it and couldn't believe that I made it to the long list. As I stared at the email my heartbeat got faster and my eyes filled with tears."

The Sunbird and Fatuma - One day a little girl who lives with her loving father in the woods discovers a magical forest. A friendship begins between the little girl, Fatuma, and the Sunbird. When Fatuma finds out the painful truth about her father, how will she protect her friend?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Hillary.jpgHillary Namunyu  is a publishing editor in Nairobi, Kenya. He is also a reading ambassador with Start-A-Library, an organisation that promotes installation and stocking of libraries with creative books as well as championing reading in primary schools. He occasionally contributes literary commentaries to The Saturday Nation.  

"Wow! Unbelievable! ...I now believe in that saying, that there is a sense of greatness in every person." Hillary exclaimed when he received the news he had been longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Book.

Teddy Mapesa and the Missing Cash - Teddy is about 12 years old, lives in Nairobi with his parents and goes to a city council school. Like many children, he has a group of friends from different cultures. Some are mischievous, others terribly honest; Teddy is their consciousness. Amidst the challenges of growing up in the city, the desire to perform well in school and appease his parents whilst keeping the company of his friends, he finds himself in the thick of things when his classmate and best friend Muthoni is caught in a tragedy in the hustle and bustle of Nairobi life

b2ap3_thumbnail_Mamle-Wolo.jpgMamle Wolo is a writer of Ghanaian and German parentage, was born in Ghana and educated in both Ghana and the United Kingdom, graduating from the University of Cambridge. She is currently resident in Ghana and works as a consultant in social development issues. In 2011, she won the Burt Award for African Literature in Ghana with her young adult novel ‘The Kaya-Girl.’ She is a co-director of the Writers Project of Ghana and a mother of two.

 "Great news!" Mamle exclaimed when she received the news of  her story being longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Book.

Flying through Water  is the story of a boy who escapes from bonded labour in the fishing industry into a great adventure on the Volta Lake. Inspired by his grandfather’s stories, he has learned that his family’s history is bound up with the creation of the lake and the dam. His own adventure reunites and brings back to life the different strands of this history, including the legend of the mysterious creature of the lake, ‘Maame Water.’ This is a story of adventure and of triumph over adversity that is firmly grounded in both historical and present-day realities of Ghana.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Bontle_20140917-123900_1.jpgBontle Senne  is a writer, blogger, speaker and literary activist on the board of two education NGOs: Puku Children's Literature Foundation and READ Educational Trust. She is a minority shareholder of publishing house Modjaji Books. In addition to writing for children, Bontle regularly speaks children's literature at international literary festivals and conferences .She wrote her first story at 6 years old: it was about a brother and a sister rabbit who were naughty and wanted to stay up late.

"I am incredibly honored to be on the Golden Baobab longlist. It is certainly the most exciting moment of my life as a writer." Bontle says.

The Monster at Midnight - Phila is stuck in her grandmother's small village for the school holiday. Between bossy big sister Thando and irritating little brother Musa, she's not having a very good holiday. On top of that, there are strange things going on in the village after dark. Things for Phila only get worse when she discovers that there's a monster after her - and he's coming at midnight.

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Here are the seven longlisted writers for this year's Golden Boabab Prize for Picture Books:

b2ap3_thumbnail_Katherine-Graham_20140915-145150_1.jpgKatherine Graham - A wordsmith by profession, Katherine fills her days writing articles for magazines and looking after her two boys, husband and ginger cat. She started her career as an economics reporter for the South African Broadcasting Corporation and, after a gap year in the UK and a brief interlude as a primary school teacher, has remained in the world of media ever since.

Katherine says, "I am delighted to be selected as one of the finalists for this prestigious competition. It's such a wonderful idea to be focusing more attention on African children's literature. African children need stories that reflect their unique circumstances and celebrate the wealth of beauty on this continent."

The Lemon Tree: A rainy day is the perfect time to make pancakes, or so Gogo thinks, although would you believe there is no flour, eggs or milk left in the house? Lungi and Sipho are sent off to find the missing ingredients, making sure they take some lemons from their tree to distribute to their kind neighbours. A gentle tale with a slight twist at the end which perfectly illustrates the uniquely African concept of ubuntu


b2ap3_thumbnail_Mike_20140915-145334_1.jpgMyke Mwale is a Zimbabwean and member of the Dominican Order, just finished his studies and currently teaching in Kroonstad, South Africa. He is also a contributor to the Weekend Witness, a newspaper based in South Africa.

Myke remarks, “Great stuff! I am flattered to be longlisted amongst the story listeners and tellers of our children’s imagination and reality”.

The Big Ball: It all started one afternoon when Chiedza asked to join in and play soccer with the boys. Girls do not play soccer with boys. However, Chiedza persists and soon she can kick the plastic paper ball just like the boys. A few days later, Tendai’s father buys him a real big ball. Everybody is excited to play soccer with Tendai’s ball. Will Chiedza play this new big ball? Only Tendai, the owner of the ball, can decide this.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Mandy_20140915-145429_1.jpgMandy Collins is an award-winning South African journalist who has always had a passion for language, and in particular, the multilingual environment of South Africa. Mandy is involved in many aspects of writing. She also provides individualized writing coaching for children and adults. Mandy lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with her family and two slightly demented dogs.

According to Mandy, “I am absolutely thrilled to be longlisted again for a Golden Baobab Prize. I had such fun writing and researching the story, and writing it in verse. I absolutely love the idea of promoting authentically African literature for children, written by Africans from every country, and every walk of life – it’s so important to create a culture of reading in our children.”

There’s a Hyena in my Kitchen: Juma is something of a fussy eater, and when he pushes his plate away one evening, the food uneaten, his mother warns him that he will have to eat the food for breakfast the following day. But in the morning, the food is gone, and they realise they have a hyena in the kitchen. Three times they chase the hyena away, but each time it returns to eat Juma’s leftovers. Juma is starting to get hungry, so he devises ways to trap the hyena. But the hyena is wily and nimble, and it escapes. Finally Juma finds the solution: he eats his dinner, and the hyena slinks off into the night.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Kwame-Aidoo_20140915-145539_1.jpgCharles Kwame Aidoo is the founder and manager Inkfluent; which has over the years collaborated with National Theatre, People of Equal Thoughts and Ehalakasa on several projects and events including poetry, arts and cultural festivals, open mics, flash mobs, slams and workshops in Ghana.

Kwame says. “I am quite new to the art and hereby acknowledge that Golden Baobab’s master-class for writers of children's stories which featured Mamle Wolo has sharpened my quill in this direction. I am happy to be included on the long-list of the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes and look to achieve more with my works.”

The Tale of Busy Body Bee: It is a story about two friends - Ant and Bee. There was drought and Ant always worked himself out to produce enough but whenever he brought the harvest home, he would wake up to an empty stock. An advice from the wise Kwaku Ananse led Ant to add a magic pea to the subsequent harvest that got stuck in mischievous Bee’s tail.

b2ap3_thumbnail_shaleen_20140915-145631_1.jpgShaleen Keshavjee-Gulam was born and grew up in Nairobi. Her current occupation is a Property Developer, both commercial and residential. She is the creator and an administrator of "Kilimani Mums", a popular social media support group for Kenyan Mothers.  Shaleen lives in Nairobi with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys writing, especially for children. 

Describing how she felt when she received news she had been longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prizes, Shaleen says, "I was absolutely thrilled and incredibly honored."

Malaika's Magical Kiosk: Michelle is not a very happy little girl. Her mother has gone away to take care of her grandmother and left her with her bossy big sister. Everyone in the village is bad tempered because the rains are late and the food crops may die. But then a mysterious stranger arrives and sets up wonderful kiosk. There is a change in the air and incredible things begin to happen.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Portia-Dery_20140915-145717_1.jpgPortia Dery is writer/blogger, a community development worker and social entrepreneur with focus on writing activities in Ghana. Her love for books has dared her to become a writer. She enjoys gardening and meeting people.

“Thank you Jesus, I shouted to my walls. I thought things like this happen to people on magic lands, perhaps I drunk some magic potion.  Very excited to contribute to African children’s literature but the real joy would be when a child picks up my story to read and smile with satisfaction at the end. That would be sheer bliss!” Portia exclaimed when she received news she had been longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prizes

Grandma’s List: Everyone has problems but Fatima an eight (8) year girl has the biggest, she is tired of been treated as a child. For a long time now she has been looking for an opportunity to show everyone especially her family that she is smart like any other grownup…and then the day arrives when Fatima has the change to be a superwoman and save the day! She gets the opportunity to run errands for Grandma from grandma’s list of to-do-things and waits eagerly to be praised but things turn out differently and she learns an important lesson.

b2ap3_thumbnail_aleya-2_20140915-145806_1.jpgFrom Kenya is Aleya Kassam. Aleya is a writer, performer and storyteller. She is the co-creator of the Storymoja Publish Your Own Book series (which has published over 300 children); she delights in finding new ways to excite children about writing and exploring stories.

Aleya says, “I am absolutely thrilled to be part of a movement that celebrates African Children's Literature. My hope is that kids around the Continent will have an abundance of incredible, juicy, fantastical, thrilling stories to read, stories that they see themselves in, that speak of their reality, their dreams, their worlds; and that this will drive an insatiable appetite for reading, just for sheer the pleasure of it!”

The Jacaranda Tree is about little Zawadi's quest to make her father smile again, after her mother passes away. The story is about a young girl, grappling with the death of her mother, and calling out to Nature to help bring happiness back in their lives. When Zawadi asks The Jacaranda Tree for a favour, she doesn't realize the consequences may be permanent. 

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Africa Writes 2014, an annual festival of literature that is considered as ‘UK’s biggest celebration of contemporary African writing’, had a special focus on Ama Ata Aidoo, a playwright, poet, novelist and academic from Ghana. Aidoo’s address—conducted in the form of a moderated interview or conversation with translator and critic Wangui wa Goro—was preceded by a short film on her life and literary achievements. Dr. wa Goro had in her introduction said that the aim of the conversation, that she hoped would be ‘our fireside conversation’, was to reflect on Aidoo’s expansive literary career and the main themes that have emerged from her work. 


Aidoo is a member of the Advisory Board of the Accra (Ghana)-based Golden Baobab Prize for African Literature. Also attending the annual festival that features book launches, readings, author appearances, panel discussions and workshops for children and youth was Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed, a member of the 2014 Golden Baobab Prize for African Literature evaluations team. In describing the event, Zahrah said, “I was fortunate enough to attend Africa Writes with Ama Ata Aidoo - it was one of those situations where you cannot believe you are in the same room and listening to her speak. She is so funny and at the same time seemed like a strong woman who speaks her mind - it was one of those things that I will always remember.” Davida Wulff-Vanderpuije, who provides Public Relations support for Golden Baobab was also present and speaks about the 2014 Africa Writes Festival.

Africa Writes is an annual event; do you attend often?

This year was my second time at Africa Writes festival. I first participated in it in 2013.

What was your impression of Ama Ata Aidoo's interview with wa Goro?     

This segment was the highlight for me. I was in enthrall of Ama Ata Aidoo’s verve and engaging personality. She spoke with feeling about each of her works, including an anecdote on how people still haven’t forgiven her for the death of Anowa. As an interviewer, my personal opinion is that wa Goro did not make the most of the broad scope of questions she could have asked AAA. The segment was interspersed with a docu-film on AAA (shot by YabaBlay), and it seemed to me some of her questions had already been addressed by AAA in the film, thus we could have benefitted from other perspectives not covered by the film. In fact, to some of her questions, the witty AAA told her people could easily Google that, confirming to a certain extent, the feeling that parts of the conversation were ‘wasted’ on questions we already knew answers to. However, AAA more than made up for it. She was introduced as a ‘living literary legend’ by wa Goro, and appreciative laughter and applause from the audience say we all agreed. From the moment AAA started to speak, it was obvious we were in the hands of a master storyteller, taking us on the journey of her early life and school days in Wesley Girls High School, to the body of works and teachers who fuelled her passion for writing. Naturally, the WGHS old girls in the audience hooted delightfully with a most unladylike sound at the mention of our great school (or maybe that was just me..:-) In all, it was a great conversation, leaving us feeling like time flew by too quickly and it was over before we knew it.

What were the effects of seeing Ama Ata Aidoo, a Ghanaian, on that platform being interviewed by wa Goro?

I had a very proud moment, because this was the main event of the entire festival. For me, it was the double draw of having not only a Ghanaian, but a leading author whose protagonists have often been women who make radical choices and defy traditional gender roles at that. As she reflected on the main themes of her works of fiction, I got a real sense of her heart and work for the empowerment of women, and it was inspiring too.

What are some of the impacts you think such events will make on the literary scene in Africa?

Africa Writes is fertile ground for showcasing established and emerging talent from Africa and the diaspora, so it brings the knowledge of these writers to a wider audience. The festival has become a big celebration of contemporary African writing that is expanding and pushing new boundaries. This bodes well for the literature scene in Africa. African writers are diverse in their approach to telling their stories, and challenging the very notion of ‘African literature’. This is exciting for the continent and its diaspora because we get the benefit of the rise in genre fiction and the development of different narratives. Crucially, it challenges us to be the authors of our own stories.

It was a real delight when Davida came into contact with the 2013 winner of the Early Chapter Book Prize, Ivor Hartman. Answering the question on how the two of them connected at such a big event, Davida responded:

He was a panelist on a segment titled 'Imagining Future Africa' which discussed the impact of innovation and technology on African sci-fi, speculative and fantasy writing. This was a bold discussion on a genre that writers on the continent are engaging with as they imagine their own futures. After the talk, I approached Ivor and introduced myself in connection with Golden Baobab.


Any concluding remarks?

I'm looking forward to the time when Golden Baobab pitches camp at Africa Writes.






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Executive Director, Miss Deborah Ahenkorah, inspired participants of this year's Ashesi Innovations Experience (AIX) with her story on how she started Golden Baobab during her second year at the University. She described the numerous challenges she faced while setting up an organization at that stage of her life. She went further to advise, "You are likely to fail after your first try but try again."

About Ashesi Innovations Experience (AIX)

The Ashesi Innovation Experience (AIX) is a two (2) week-long programme targeting Senior High School students in Ghana. It aims at giving participants the tools and skills necessary for success in the 21st Century. This year, the program brought together 90 High School students who explored various opportunities in Entrepreneurship, Robotics and Design while being groomed to be ethical leaders in their societies.

The programme comprised of peer evaluations, coaching sessions and motivational talks. Miss Ahenkorah together with Golda Addo and Solomon Martey shared their experiences on social entrepreneurship to motivate the students gathered. Participants had firsthand knowledge on how to start and sustain businesses as well as how to tackle various challenges in one's community.

In sharing her thoughts, Miss Ahenkorah said, “It was an honour to be part of AIX2014.  I could see eagerness on the faces of the participants and I hope they go to inspire their generation with the knowledge and skills they have acquired. I want to congratulate Ashesi University for organizing this programme.” 

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Golden Baobab has begun evaluating stories for the 2014 Literature Prizes. This year, the Prizes received a total of 210 stories from 12 different countries across the continent. The reading season of the evaluation process is in its third week.

The Evaluation Process

The evaluation process is made up of two sessions: the reading season, which spans from July to August and the judging season in October. Before the reading season, stories that were received for Literature Prizes are put into packs: four stories per pack for the Early Chapter Book and eight stories per pack for the Picture Book. Each week, a reader receives a pack of stories and a score sheet to record evaluations. At the end of the week, stories are returned and readers receive new packs of stories. Evaluation of the stories is guided by The Golden Baobab Evaluation Handbook Book, a 22-page document which spells out responsibilities of the readers and the criteria for grading stories.  For diverse perspectives, a story is read at least twice by different readers. Stories that get the lowest scores during the reading season are dropped and the highest scoring stories make the longlist. The judging season begins after the longlist is selected. During the judging season, the longlisted stories are evaluated by six judges to select a shortlist and winners of the Golden Baobab Prizes for African Literature.

Meet the 2014 Reading Team

Members of the reading team are volunteers dedicating two months of their year to sift through stories that were received during the Call for Submissions to select a longlist.  This year, 22 readers from Kenya, Singapore, India, Canada, Germany, South Africa, USA and Ghana form the panel. They consist a physician, a primary school librarian, a publisher, an English Teacher, a drilling fluid engineer, students and graduates. The diversity of readers is to enable Golden Baobab select stories which will be lauded and appreciated by a wide variety of readers all over the world.

Our reading panel had a little chit chat to know each other better. Below are snippets of the conversation and some of the responses will definitely make you smile:

If you were God for a day, what is the first thing you would do?

  • Press the earth's reset button.
  • Create harmony and love
  • Make everyone honest.
  • Give me more hours in the day please!
  • I'd instill some intrinsic motivation in all my jaded students. 
  • I would probably take away the concept of violence from human minds.
  • Rainbow colored beaches. And then I would take us all back to the Garden of Eden and save a ton of complications.
  • I’ll give the title back to God. I think He’s doing a great job.
  • Wow, I don't think I have the strength, patience or wisdom to be God, but I think I would pause the world and sprinkle love dust on everyone (yes, I said love dust), I think if we all remember to love others above ourselves most of the problems we are facing will seize to exist.

Interesting things about you that you dislike?

  • I say a lot of things I don't mean. I seriously need a filter. 
  • I am a perfectionist. Really drives me mad when I have an important assignment to undertake.
  • My ability to touch my nose with my tongue. That must mean my tongue is way too long, right?!
  • None or very few of the things I pursue in life seem to have any correlation with being a real-life adult making real-life money... is quite worrying at this point. 
  • I am a worrier by nature - and I have extremely "thin skin" and tend to take everything too personal. I have tried to "toughen up", but it hasn't worked so far and since I am heading towards the 50s, I have kind of given up on it ;)
  • I have an unexplainable dislike for peas. I don't know why, but I see peas and I just can't eat them.
  • I am a huge over thinker. I like to ponder and nit-pick at every angle which can quickly get exhausting.
  • I don't often think ahead, and recently that's come to bite me in the backside.
  • Boring habits of mine that can be annoying to others is my tendency to be nitpicky.


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Great news for illustrators, artists and designers in Africa!! Golden Baobab has extended the deadline for submissions to the 2014 Golden Baobab Prize for Illustrators. The new submission deadline is Midnight GMT, Friday, August 22, 2014. 

The goal of the Golden Baobab Prizes is to discover, nurture and celebrate talented African writers and illustrators of children's stories. There is a $7500 cash prize at stake as well as the opportunity to be celebrated as Africa's leading children's illustrator.

If you are an African illustrator/artist, get excited and ready to submit! Do share this news with any illustrators/artists you know. 

Find our rules and regulations in English, Francais, Português and العربية. For submission details, visit  submit your illustrations.

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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:

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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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Golden Baobab's award

On Monday, March 24 this year, Golden Baobab was awarded the Best Children's Publisher of the Year in Africa at the annual Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy. The award was in recognition of Golden Baobab’s efforts to help improve and develop children's content on the African continent.

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is one of the most important international events dedicated to the children’s publishing and multimedia industry.  It is a meeting of authors, illustrators, literary agents, licensors and licensees, packagers, distributors, printers, booksellers, and librarians. It also serves as a platform for finding the very best of children’s publishing and multimedia production, for generating and gathering new contacts while strengthening professional relationships. This year’s event saw an exhibition of more than 30,000 illustrators, writers, exhibitors and trade operators from all over the world. 

The Bologna Book Fair in Italy

In the words of the Executive Director of Golden Baobab, Deborah Ahenkorah, quote, “We are absolutely honoured and delightfully surprised that Golden Baobab’s nascent publishing efforts have been recognized while we launch our publishing activities this year.”

Photo of award winners









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When the African Women's Development Fund (AWDF) announced that it would be holding a three-day workshop on Results Based Management (RBM) for eight of its grantees, we at Golden Baobab knew we had to seize the opportunity! We put in our application and Nanama Acheampong, the programmes coordinator of the prize was accepted as a participant.

The RBM workshop took place from the 13th-16th of May, 2014 and was held at the beautiful Laico Regency Hotel in the heart of Nairobi, Kenya. 

About RBM

RBM is a strategic management approach which involves, among other things, accurately defining goals and objectives, planning activities to achieve them and effective report writing.

Programmes coordinator’s experience at RBM

Commenting on the RBM experience, Miss Acheampong said, “I was excited about being a part of the RBM training because it did not only give me the opportunity to network with women from different parts of Africa who are playing similar roles as I am, but it also helped to improve my planning, implementing and reporting skills. These will enhance my performance in my current role as coordinator of the prizes.” 

 Snapshot of presentation at the workshopSnapshot of presentation at the workshop 

According to Miss Acheampong, Awino Okech, a facilitator at the workshop, was absolutely brilliant in how she led the workshop, weaving individual work, group activities and presentations into the mix to ensure that they are properly understood and put to use, the new things they were learning.  

Awino Okech,facilitator at the workshop

In all, Miss Acheampong left the workshop knowing the importance of ensuring that goals/desired results are accurately defined and realistic and how to properly and effectively capture impact made during report writing.



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Golden Baobab is happy to introduce Daisy Chang, our Communications Fellow!  Daisy is a graduate of Wellesley, MA, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. So far, Daisy has written and designed beautiful proposals, assisted with research work and is currently working on building a GeeBee mascot prototype which is coming along nicely, as can be seen in the photo above. We had a little chat with Daisy to find out a little more about her.


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Daisy (though the lady I buy oranges from knows me as Akua, meaning Wednesday born) and I am Korean-American, from New York, graduated from Wellesley, and figuring out life. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to walk. Some places I really enjoy walking are across the Harvard Bridge from Cambridge to Boston, along the long dusty road from the Pastor's house to the river bank in New Longoro (Brong Ahafo), and up the mountain trail to the train tracks near my home in NY. I also like to bike, journal, and eat delicious things. 

In Accra, I find that I can't walk as much as I'd like, definitely not bike (because I fear for my life), and a lot of my favorite delicious things are not found here. I took Debbie's suggestion to use my 2-3 commuting-in-traffic time and have been going through audiobooks. I am currently making my way through LOTR; I just finished the Hobbit and am deep into the Fellowship of the Ring.

This is your second time in Ghana, what have been your impressions so far? How long are you in Ghana for?

I landed January 5 and will leave May 1, totaling four months overall. By this point, that initial honeymoon phase of traveling to a new country has definitely worn off. My view of Ghana has normalized a lot, in the same way people who idealize a country (like the United States or France) realize over time that every place has its own conveniences and struggles. However, I will say that I enjoy the friendliness and trust here; yesterday on my morning commute, a woman handed me and a stranger each a baby to hold while she held her third child. Sometimes though, that friendliness goes a little the group of children who walk me home from the bus stop every evening. After walking me yesterday and in the midst of saying goodbye, one child picked an orange out of our tree and the next thing I know, there are like 30 crazy children stripping the poor tree of all its unripe fruits. They are a very threateninggang of 7 year olds.

How much of Ghana have you been able to see and what activities have you managed to do?

The furthest north I've been is to Brong-Ahafo. I've also been to the Bui Dam, Suame Magazine in Kumasi, and Elmina Slave Castle near Cape Coast. However, I am most proud of getting around in Accra and learning to navigate the trotro system. 

How did you decide to join the Golden Baobab team?

As a student, I had heard the name Golden Baobab because of its association with the Echoing Green Fellowship. When a friend offered to introduce me to a number of different organizations and listed Golden Baobab as one, I put it at the top of my list. I really believe that Golden Baobab is going to be big and push the frontier of children's literature, so it was an honor to be connected.

What is your role during your time at Golden Baobab and what about it excites you most?

My role as a fellow has been somewhere in the junction of communications and business development. I've been exploring the idea of corporate sponsorships as a means of distributing books locally and talking with key people in these corporations and writing proposals. I also have had the opportunity to support Nanama in finding the applicant base for the new Illustrators' Prizes, as well a number of other exciting tasks. For example, later this week, I get to go hunting for materials to prototype a Golden Baobab mascot.

What has been your experience at Golden Baobab so far? What are some of the opportunities you have received to learn new things?

My experience has been that the Golden Baobab staff is excellent and good at what they do, and a personal challenge for myself is to always learn from people and adapt habits I would like to have. For example, I admire Nanama's serious focus as well as her confidence and eloquence in voicing her thoughts; as for Debbie, I respect her vision casting and the speed at which she generates ideas. Her brain is like a high speed train and well.

Aside from those things that I am trying to learn from them, I've also learned how to use new software which was (is) a pleasant challenge.

Who was your favourite storybook character growing up? 

I had many. Thinking back to kindergarten, when I would sit on the story-time reading mat at the back of the classroom, the characters I can clearly recall are: Strega Nona for her pasta making prowess and ability to transport me to Italy through the words and pictures, the Rainbow Fish for his beautiful glimmering scales, Tikki Tikki Tembo for the rhymes and the challenge of reciting as many lines from memory as fast as possible, and--though I read this later in life--Punchinello from You are Special, for teaching me about God.

As I grew a bit older, I made new friends who (in their books) were also my age--I really liked Salamanca from Walk Two Moons and wanted to be Ella from Ella Enchanted, but I also lived through Ender, Harry, the Narnia children, the Animorphs, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and so so so many more...I'll stop here so I can get back to work.

What are your plans for the future?

Stay in Ghana until It's time to leave.


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Accra, February 24th, 2014 – Golden Baobab has launched the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes for African children’s literature and illustrations. In this 6th year of the prize, the Ghana based literary social enterprise Golden Baobab and its supporters will be awarding 6 distinct prizes worth $20,000. These 6 prizes are:

  • The Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Book
  • The Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Book
  • The Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Writers
  • The Golden Baobab Prize for Illustrators
  • The Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Illustrators
  • The Golden Baobab Lifetime Achievement in Children’s Literature Award

Marking the 6th anniversary of the Golden Baobab Prizes, its coordinator, Nanama B. Acheampong states, “we are excited this year to be presenting 6 prizes. For 5 years we have successfully run 3 prizes for literature. As we enter our 6th year, we are thrilled to be able to transfer the expertise we have gained to illustration in Africa and to recognizing lifetime contributors to African children’s literature. The new prizes we are launching this year are: the Golden Baobab Prize for Illustrators, The Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Illustrators and the Golden Baobab Lifetime Achievement in Children’s Literature Award.”

2014 Golden Baobab Prize winners will receive cash prizes worth $20,000, opportunities to be published, invitations to the Golden Baobab Award ceremony, mentorship, press opportunities and participation in exhibitions.

Commenting on the launch of the 2014 Prizes, Deborah Ahenkorah, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Golden Baobab said, “I’m thrilled that as we mark the 6th anniversary of the prizes, we are doing more than we ever have to champion the work of African writers and illustrators of children’s stories. For example, we have increased cash prizes from an annual $3000 to an annual $20,000. This increase reflects the value we place on the work created by incredibly talented writers and illustrators of African children’s stories. This is only the beginning of our aspirations for this space.”

2014 will see Golden Baobab launch an active search for corporate and foundation partnerships to continue to do more for African children’s literature. For information about the Golden Baobab prizes, visit Golden Baobab’s website. The Golden Baobab Prizes are supported by the African Library Project.

We encourage you to share this post with anyone you know who might be interested in participating in any of the above prizes. For further information, please contact Nanama B. Acheampong at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


  • To view and share our 2014  Promotional Poster for The Golden Baobab Prizes for Literature, please click here
  • To view and share our 2014  Promotional Poster for The Golden Baobab Prizes for Illustrations, please click here




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Our Golden Baobab Prizes coordinator, Nanama B. Acheampong, had the pleasure of attending the Ake Arts and Book Festival in Nigeria. She shares her experiences in this new blogpost!

The Ake Arts and Book Festival, if you haven’t already heard, was a tremendous success. It took place in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria, from 19-24 November, 2013 and was organized by writer and women's rights activist, Lola Shoneyin. The theme of the festival was 'Shadow of Memory.'

When at work we decided it would be a great idea for Golden Baobab to be at the festival, I did a little dance in my head. I had been stalking the Ake Festival website for a while and was intrigued by all the activities that promised to be memorable. I wanted to attend for this reason and for some others:

  1. I had never been to Nigeria and so badly wanted to go before the end of 2013
  2. I wanted to meet and speak with many of the writers who were listed on the Ake website
  3. The adventure junkie in me wanted to ride an Okada
  4. I wanted to try Nigerian food

I arrived at the Murtala Muhammed Airport on Thursday 21 and found my way to my hotel in Abeokuta. On arrival, I freshened up and immediately headed to the June 12 Cultural Centre which was the venue for the festival. At the lounge area, lunch was almost over and so I quickly grabbed myself a bowl of jollof and spicy chicken (I was told it was the last one left, lucky me!) from the lovely caterer whose accent sounded like a mixture of British and Nigerian. I then looked around for a place to sit and decided on a chair beside a corn-rowed woman who was busily poking away at her iPad. Through conversation, I found out she was Doreen Baingana, Ugandan writer and winner of the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize for “Tropical Fish.” I bought a copy and got it signed by her. It was a good start to my Ake Festival experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed my four days at the festival. The following were my highlights:

Meeting writers, who I had previously only read or read about:  I bumped into Muthoni Garland, who was a 2010 judge for the Golden Baobab Prizes, Tope Folarin who is the 2013 winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, Syl Cheney-Coker whose poetry I have seen in countless places and whose new book, Sacred River, I am eagerly waiting for. I met Sitawa Namwalie, who gave a splendid performance with Muthoni during the cocktail event, Binyavanga Wainaina, who had green hair to go with his green African print shirt and Lisa Teasley, who had such warm words, a ready smile and enviable locks.

The numerous book chats and the art exhibition: Teju Cole described scenes in Open City so well that it made me wish I had already read the book, Chibundu Onuzo touched on her story, The Spider King’s Daughter and made me debate with myself whether it’s really possible for two very different worlds to come together, Marlon James read excerpts from his novel, The Book of Night Women, in Patois, the language it was written in, which fascinated me and made me want to hear more of it. I also met Temitope Olorunfunmi, who was longlisted for this year’s Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books and looked at beautiful paintings at the art exhibition.

The stage adaptation of Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives: The show started quite late and I was hungry but two minutes the first song and my hunger was all but forgotten. This play, which was adapted by Rotimi Babatunde, 2012 Caine Prize winner, was such a spectacle. It had enough music, dance, humour and drama in it to keep you completely entertained.

An audience with Wole Soyinka: At this special event, four under 21’s were given the chance to ask Wole Soyinka any question they wanted to. It was such a marvel to hear the professor talk about his hair regimen, something you probably wouldn’t hear anywhere else! After this, he sat down for a book signing. I was with a friend and we both wanted his autograph but didn’t have any of his books with us. We quickly ran up to the book fair that was taking place in the main auditorium and bought “Climate of Fea.r”  We took it back down to be signed, only to realize that Wole Soyinka had gotten in his car and was being driven off. We couldn’t help but laugh at ourselves!

The barbeque: I have two left feet that have made it quite impossible to keep to rhythm but during the barbeque on the evening of Saturday 23, I couldn’t help but join the dancing crowd that had gathered under the white tents behind the cultural centre. There was great food and drinks and a live band that played some catchy tunes. This was my last night in Nigeria and at the Ake Festival and I must say, it was a great way to spend it!

At the end of the Ake Festival, I had met so many wonderful writers, artists and book enthusiasts, I had bought a number of books to add to my Christmas reading list, I had gobbled mouthfuls of delicious Nigerian food, I had danced and I had been on one or two Okada rides. What more could I have asked for?

For more photos from The Ake Festival, visit our Facebook page

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