IBBY Africa Regional Conference

by | Dec 16, 2019 | IBBY Reports

Illustrator workshop – top row (l-r): Worlanyo Sename, Sena Ahadji, Abena Yankah, Donald Dodoo Bottom row (l-r): Derek Worlalorm- Johnson, Sophie Hallam, Mrs. Ewurabena Ahwoi, Ken Wilson-Max, Dorcas Gyamfuah Gyabeng, Lawrinda Agbenowosi and Emmanuel Ayitey.

Kathy Knowles Library in Osu

Ghana International Book Fair

In August 2019, IBBY UK committee members Ken Wilson-Max and Sophie Hallam attended IBBY Africa’s Regional Conference in Accra, Ghana.

Every two years, regional conferences are held to support networking, professional exchange and the strengthening ties of friendship and cooperation between different national sections. This was the 5th IBBY Africa Regional Conference following South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

The conference brought together practitioners, supporters and champions of African children’s literature with a mix of presented papers on the theme of illustration in children’s books. The conference also included an exhibition of The Golden Baobab Illustration Award winners and the British Council’s Drawing Words. It also introduced the inaugural biennial IBBY Ghana Meshack Asare Prize (named after the internationally acclaimed Ghanaian writer and illustrator) – an award that was instituted to support and celebrate talented Ghanaian illustrators of children’s books. Edmund Opare was announced as the first recipient of the award at a special gala dinner on 30th of August.

Akoss Ofori-Mensah, Managing Director of Sub-Saharan Publishers and Chair of IBBY Ghana, welcomed the delegation from countries across Africa, Europe and North America. As a child, she recalled reading books like Snow White – but what of stories from Africa? This was a recurring theme of the conference as publishers, reading promoters and literacy organisations all reflected on the importance of books published in Africa by African writers and illustrators. Professor Esi Sutherland Addy celebrated the imaginative power of children’s books and reflected on the need to question our cultural iconography “Should A be for Apple or for Africa?”

Other highlights of the conference included Christian Elongué, co-founder of Muna Kalati, a research platform on Cameroonian and African children’s books, who presented a powerful overview on books for African children by African creators and the reading culture in Cameroon. Yvonne Capeheart gave a presentation on Reading Liberia, the impact of the civil war and their programme We Care Book Chain & Libraries. Sophie Hallam also presented a paper entitled Picture Books: Art, Communication and Resistance. You can view papers of the conference here: http://5thibbyafricaregionalconference.org/.

In the days leading up to the conference, Deborah Ahenkorah of Golden Baobab and the British Council hosted a 3-day workshop for illustrators led by Ken Wilson-Max and another 3-day workshop for authors led by Sarah Odedina. IBBY International sponsored a further 2-day workshop led by Piet Grobler and Roger Mello. These workshops, and the conference that followed, highlighted the exciting new talent evident in African children’s books today.

The conference included a visit to Kathy Knowles libraries in Osu and the Ghana International Book Fair and a deeply moving excursion to Cape Coast and Elmina Castle.

Thank you to the organising committee of IBBY Ghana for such an inspiring and informative time in Accra!