The New SDG Book Club African Chapter Releases Its First Reading List

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Selections for the African chapter of the Sustainable Development Goals Book Club include two titles in Indigenous African languages.

Schoolchildren go to school by way of Beach Kiwengwa in Tanzania’s Zanzibar. Two of the books chosen for the inaugural collection of the African chapter of the SDG Book Club are from Tanzania. Image – iStockphoto: AfricanWay

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Opening with Goals 1 and 2: Poverty and Hunger
As so many statements were being made by so many organizations in so many places on Friday’s 2021 World Book and Copyright Day (April 23), one you may have missed was about the newly created African chapter of the SDG Book Club.

The club, as you’ll remember, is a collaboration of the International Publishers Association (IPA) and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals program (SDG), a project created “to encourage children ages 6 to 12 to interact with the principles of the UN’s ambitious 17-goal project” timed to 2030.

And, as we reported, the African chapter was announced in January, with its plan to curate books in Kiswahili, Arabic, French, and English.  The African chapter also plans to include release in “an honorary Indigenous African language” in each of its collections.

In the first releases recommended by the African SDG Book Club and announced on World Book Day, the first two sustainable development goals are the focal issues: No. 1 is the eradication of poverty and No. 2 is the achievement of “zero hunger.”

And this framework was opened on Friday by the United Nations Information Centre in Namibia, in concert with African organizations that represent publishers, libraries, booksellers, authors, and book promotion, particularly in the young readership space.

African SDG Book Club Selections: English

Sustainable Development Goal 1: Poverty

Title Author Illustrator Publisher
Kayim’s Quest for Good Fortune Djan Amaniampong Ama Worla Mountype Publishers, Ghana
Leg Power: Victor Wanyama Jimmy Asudi Abel Murumba Nsemia Inc. Publishers, Kenya
Monkey Business Chukwuemeka Iroegbu Chukwudi University Press, Nigeria
Village Boy Anietie Usen Mike Asukwo Parresia Publishers, Origami, Nigeria

Sustainable Development Goal 2: Hunger

Title Author Illustrator Publisher
Chokora: A Kenyan Scavenger PGN Mbugwa Robert Maina Nsemia Inc. Publishers, Kenya
Koko Grows Food Maliya Mzyece Slilo Harrington Kanyanta Sotrane Publishers, Zambia
The Magic Formula Ibrahima Ndiaye Capucine Mazille Bakame Editions, Rwanda
Sabina: The Rain Girl Christopher Okemwa Abel Murumba Nsemia Inc. Publishers, Kenya
African SDG Book Club Selections: Arabic

Sustainable Development Goal 1: Poverty

Title Author Illustrator Publisher
The Feast Dress Abeer Mohamed Anwar Sahar Abdullah Nahdit Misr Publishing Group, Egypt

Sustainable Development Goal 2: Hunger

Title Author Illustrator Publisher
Farhan and Farha Adventure in the Village Harun Abubakar and F. Shariff Denis Muchiri Atfaal ‘Publishers Ltd., Kenya
African SDG Book Club Selections: French

Sustainable Development Goal 1: Poverty (None Chosen)

Sustainable Development Goal 2: Hunger

Title Author Illustrator Translator Publisher
L’arbre au secret John Kilaka John Kilaka Jean René Yanbow Al Kitab, Morocco
African SDG Book Club Selections: Kiswahili

Sustainable Development Goal 1: Poverty

Title Author Illustrator Publisher
Hatima ya Musa Dominic Maina Tonny Siema Queenex Publishers, Kenya
Utenzi Haki za Watoto Yusuf Abbas Khalid Yussuf Readit Books Ltd., Tanzania

Sustainable Development Goal 2: Hunger

Title Author Illustrator Publisher
Kijiji cha Ukame Hamisi Babusa Storymoja Publishers, Kenya
Debe la Dhahabu Mehta Abeid Abdul Gugu Mathews Bookstore & Stationers, Tanzania
African SDG Book Club Selections: Honorary Indigenous Languages
Language Locations Title Author Publisher
Akan Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire Kweku Anansi and His New Wife Farida Salifu E-Library: World Stories
Yoruba West Africa, Cuba, and Brazil Alake, the Cold Water Seller Omolara Fadiya Rasmed Publications, Nigeria
Kolawole: ‘At Long Last’

Samuel Kolawole

In comments made by leadership figures for the introduction of the new slate of reading, Samuel Kolawole who chairs the African Publishers Network (APNET) said he was pleased to see an authoritative curation underway for younger readers.

“At long last,” Kolawole said, “selection of good quality books for African children has materialized.

“This will go a long way to promote literacy and ensure that the continent of Africa makes good progress towards achieving the SDGs.”

APNet is one of the founding partners for the African chapter, accompanied by:

Olatoun Gabi-Williams

The founder of Borders Literature for All Nations, Olatoun Gabi-Williams, on Friday, joined Kolawole and others in praising the first effort in book selection for the new chapter,

“This is a rich range of well-told and beautifully illustrated books from Africa.

“They deserve good fortune as they make their way in the global diversity of children’s books.”

Wale Okediran

Wale Okediran, the secretary general of the Pan African Writers’ Association, also was along with a comment.

“The Pan African Writers Association,” Okediran said, “is happy to be part of this epoch-making project aimed at bringing to everybody’s attention quality books for the education, entertainment, and recreation of African children.

“Our hearty congratulations to all our colleagues who have made this possible.”

Dare Oluwatuyi

Also supporting the arrival of the new list of books was Dare Oluwatuyi, who is president of the Booksellers Association of Nigeria.

Oluwatuyi said, “The African book space has waited for this initiative.

“Since the Africa 100 Best Books Project, there haven’t been many major efforts at calling attention to the books of the continent in a loud and sustained way.

“It’s further noteworthy that this is also coming in a bumper package that also promotes the very laudable UN SDGs goals.

“African Booksellers stand with you in unison.”

Anthea Basson

And Anthea Basson, the national information officer for the UN Information Centre at Windhoek, was quoted, as well, saying, “Children carry a great responsibility to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, because they inherit both our reality and the world we hope to create.

“We promote the SDGs in children’s books so they feel inspired to bring about a better future for all.

“From ending poverty and ensuring zero hunger to justice and climate change, we hope to encourage children to make a difference.”

African authors, publishers or booksellers interested in submitting books for future SDGs can do so here. The site for the African Chapter of the SDG Book Club is here. You can also follow the African SDG Book Club on Facebook and YouTube.

In addition to the African chapter, there are market-specific chapters in Norway, Indonesia, Portugal, and Brazil.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the SDG Book Club is here, more from us on the International Publishers Association is here, and more on publishing and its issues in Africa is here. Publishing Perspectives is the media partner of the International Publishers Association.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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