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In December 2012, friends of Golden Baobab joined hands, with the soulful sounds of Jojo Abott and Kunle for entertainment, to raise funds for an important cause: a children’s library at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) Children’s Ward. After the successful night at Republic Bar and Grill and months of endless correspondence back and forth, Golden Baobab in partnership with IBBY-Ghana has completed the project and presented over two hundred enthralling African children’s books, a furniture set and a colorful bookcase to the KBTH Children’s Ward.

 

The Korle Bu Library Project was initiated by Audrey Destandau, a former Golden Baobab team member and Ashlie Bernhisel, a former research intern at KBTH. The project was to bring to life Golden Baobab’s vision: a world filled with wonder and possibility, one African children’s book at a time. KBTH was identified as a strategic partner because as the biggest hospital in Ghana, it has a regular influx of children, some of who spend months on admission.  It was identified that although the hospital has a room where these children can study and play, there were no books for them to read. Golden Baobab decided to help out by stocking the room with books, particularly books whose cultural settings and content children can relate to.

This wonderful project has been completed in partnership with IBBY-Ghana and with the kind support of Ghana Book Development Council, Smartline Publishers, Sub-Saharan Publishers and African Christian Press. Golden Baobab made a formal presentation of the completed library to the KBTH staff on Monday, 29th July, 2013.

 Dear friends who came out to support us at the Republic Bar and Grill, the completed library is the direct result of the funds you helped us raise last year. Golden Baobab is truly grateful for your kind support!




 

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International Children’s Book Day, April 2, is celebrated worldwide to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books. April 2 marks the birthday of Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen who was a prolific writer well-known for his fairy tales, some of which include The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Pea, Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling and many others.

The Street Library Project in partnership with Golden Baobab and Sub-Saharan Publishers celebrated this day on July 12, 2013 in Damang Ahwerase on the Nsawam Adgoagyiri to Adeiso Road. Dignitaries who graced the occasion were Akoss Ofori-Mensah, founder and Managing Director of Sub-Saharan Publishers, Jane S. Obeng, a director from the Ghana Education Service and Mark Amoako Dompreh, the Municipal Chief Executive of the host community.

There was a full turnout from the five schools which were in attendance. The enthusiasm the children projected was commendable. They came fully prepared for the activities and were very exuberant. The programme started with an Azonto performance, a popular Ghanaian dance that got the children excited and engaged. This was immediately followed by a quiz competition which involved a reading session with the primary school children after which they were questioned about the reading. The winning school received book donations from Sub-Saharan Publishers whilst the participants received GeeBee book bags from Golden Baobab. Five students received prizes for excelling in a creative writing competition. The children were passionate about the motion they argued for and against in the debate, “Books are more important that computer.”

It was insightful to get up close with our targeted readers and audience and see how our work impacts them. 

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Golden Baobab is proud to introduce to you, Phoebe Prah, our very own hardworking and talented Programs Assistant. One of Phoebe’s duties at Golden Baobab is to help brainstorm for new and exciting projects that are relevant to Golden Baobab’s mission. One such project was GeeBee the Book Bag which Phoebe did an amazing job spearheading. Here’s her account of how the bag came into existence!

Hi everyone!

Although conceptualizing GeeBee was not easy, it certainly proved to be worthy! At one weekly Golden Baobab meeting towards the end of November last year, the team huddled together en “pensive” mode, thinking and brainstorming to come up with an end-of-year project that would tie together our plans for strategic corporate engagement, children-focused social impact and increased brand recognition. The flow of thinking went a bit like this:

How do we get high quality African children's books into the hands of children this Christmas holiday? How do we begin to build strong, lasting relationships with corporates and have these relationships translate into support for our organization? We came up with a great idea!

When the Christmas season is approaching, corporates give out a lot of freebies to their staff, ranging from cash vouchers to various gifts. What could our gift be? Books seemed likely but how about a book bag? Now that sounds like a Golden Baobab product! We would create an unforgettable book bag with such a cool character that it would be difficult for any company to reject it. We would call our new product: GeeBee the Book Bag.

That was just the beginning! Over the next five days, the Golden Baobab team liaised with our good friend illustrator, El Carna, to solidify the GeeBee character. We wanted GeeBee to be childish but with a quirky edge and an iconic expression that would make it recognizable any and everywhere. El Carna designed GeeBee's face. Then we partnered with some bag makers and printers and just like that our GeeBee the Book Bag was born! We loved the look of our bag’s outer character but the most satisfying part for us was the fact that the contents in GeeBee would go a long way to fulfill Golden Baobab’s vision: a world filled with wonder and possibility, one African children’s story at a time.

If you are reading this and still wondering, “so what exactly is GeeBee?” allow me to explain: GeeBee the Book Bag is an excitable book bag character who shares the joy of reading African children’s books with every child it meets. Each Book Bag is filled with three quality African children’s stories and a bookmark with a message from GeeBee that encourages the bag owner to keep reading African children’s books.

We approached various companies and pitched GeeBee as an “excitable and meaningful Christmas gift” for the children of staff and in the space of three weeks, we successfully sold over 700 books - an impressive feat!  The success of GeeBee was critical as that was the deciding factor as to whether it should be incorporated into Golden Baobab’s overall organizational model.

So this my friends, is how the much coveted GeeBee the Book Bag came to be! 

By Phoebe Prah – Programs Assistant

 In the middle is Phoebe holding a box of finished GeeBee Bags

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Golden Baobab is happy to introduce to you, Sena Ahadji, a young African Illustrator who is truly passionate about her art and puts much thought and focus into the works she produces. The Golden Baobab Prize is constantly evolving and we have placed more emphasis on the creation of African stories that will inspire the imaginations of African children. To depict this vision, we sought the help of Sena to create a poster for the 2013 Golden Baobab Prize, on which she delivered marvelously! Let's welcome Sena and see what she has to say.

Hello!

I’m Sena Ahadji, an African Illustrator. From as far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved drawing and no bare surface ever seemed safe around me if I was holding a crayon or a marker!

In primary school, library time was sacred to me; the books I chose to read were heavily influenced by their illustrations. I was always fascinated by the different techniques the illustrator’s used to bring the characters to life. This seemed to determine whether or not it would be a good read.

Studying Illustration and Graphics Design at Coventry University gave me the platform to explore my talent as an Illustrator. It birthed a passion in me for children’s books and my characters tend to stem from unique personalities I come across. My stylistic approach is not always very conventional as I always look for ways to improve and express myself as an individual. My African background also plays a vital role in the way my characters are depicted.

I was honored to be approached by Golden Baobab to design this year’s Prize poster and so I wanted to design something captivating. After researching, brainstorming and sketching down some ideas, I came up with the concept of an African character with a big afro, fascinated with the contents of a book coming to life. The concept was refined each time after getting feedback, until the final creative solution fit the brief!

I believe the role of an Illustrator is to provoke and assist ones imagination to push its boundaries. As my skills continue to expand, I hope you will find more of my illustrations all over! There are endless possibilities and opportunities I endeavor to explore and I look forward to working on some interesting projects and making my print as an African Illustrator.

Sena Ahadji

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A very big welcome to our 5th and final Search Hero, Allieu, from Sierra Leone! Allieu has a soft spot for book characters who emerge victorious despite the adversities they go through in their stories. He also loves a certain sport, can you guess which one?

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am Allieu S. H. Kamara, a member of PEN International, Sierra Leone Chapter. I am the Administrative Secretary of the Chapter which is known as the Sierra Leone PEN Centre. I have practiced journalism over a period of 15 years and I have recently registered a newspaper called the ‘EDUCO NEWSPAPER.’ 

What is your day job and what activities do you enjoy in your leisure time?

My daily job at the Sierra Leone PEN Centre is planning and executing the day to day activities of the centre. I like watching football and listening to music when I have free time.

Let’s take our readers on a trip down memory lane. What did your 8 year-old self want to become in future and were they in any way influenced by the books you read?

I’ve wanted to be a journalist since I was a small boy so I'm happy that my dream came true! Though I have read many books, I already had a passion for journalistic activities, especially research and reporting.

This is the tough one: Who was your favorite storybook character growing up?

When I read stories, I always admire a hero/heroine who strives hard to succeed despite difficulties in his/her adventure. An example is the popular primary school book, ‘Chike and the River,’ authored by the late African literary giant, Chinua Achebe. The main character in the book, Chike, became successful at the end of his ambitious story.   

What would be your biggest dream for African children’s literature?

When every African child has access to a variety of supplementary readers in schools at all levels, I would be the happiest man in the literary circle! This is because research has indicated that a child who can read and write, learns more and is more likely to stay in school. As a result, this child has a greater ability to contribute to economic prosperity. As a student/pupil masters the mechanics of reading, instructions expand to address reading and writing for critical thinking and the use of knowledge gained to solve real problems. 

How does it feel to be named a Search Hero for the Golden Baobab Prize?

It means a lot to me to help in promoting African literature, writers and reading. Also, it would mean suggesting and advising literary institutions on organizing writers’ workshops and publishing reading materials.

What kind of superpowers will you be contributing to enhance the Golden Baobab Prize search for captivating African stories for children?

Encouraging both published and aspiring writers to add to African literature and enrich its value. At PEN Sierra Leone, we have established a Writers Forum. The forum encourages people to come up with unpublished manuscripts so that writers can meet as peers to share experiences and new and aspiring writers can meet with established writers for tips and guidance relating to their works.

Where can people connect with you on the World Wide Web?

People can connect with me on www.pensierraleone.org. We share this website with PEN International.

Well Sierra Leone, there you have it! Look out for Allieu, Search Hero No. 5 for the Golden Baobab Prize!

 

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