Media Associates International CEO Search

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Article By Africa Speaks
 
 
Bob Reekie’s Legacy Continues

After more than two decades of dedicated service as the CEO of Media Associates International (MAI), John Maust is preparing to retire.

Media Associates International recently announced the posting for the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The new CEO will succeed current CEO John Maust when he retires in July 2024.

Andy Rogers, Chairman of MAI International Board of Directors, pays tributes to him with these words:

“As Board Chair for the International Board, and on behalf of the entire Board, I wish to thank John for his incredible work at MAI since he began serving in 1995, and most importantly, for his contributions as President since 1998, when he took over the post from MAI co-founder Bob Reekie. John is a man of authentic faith, a consummate servant leader, and a dear friend or mentor to all who know him. His steady leadership and active participation in the search will be invaluable as we go about the process of finding his successor to the role.”

The Board has been prayerfully considering all aspects and attributes of their next leader. Their hopes are to find someone who not only aligns with MAI’s mission to “satisfy global hunger for the written word,” but who has vision to build on all that God has done around the world through the MAI network, including the triennial LittWorld Conference.

 

Application Details

For more information on the position description and attributes of the ideal candidate, please click here.

If you are interested in being considered for this position, please send by email a cover letter and resume to mai@littworld.org. If you know of a good candidate who should be considered, please complete and return this form where all candidates will be processed by the MAI International Board.

Join us in prayer for this important next step for MAI. Pray for divine guidance, wisdom and inspiration for the board members as they work through this transition. And let us give thanks to God for the wonderful plans He has in store for MAI in this new phase.

 

 

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Africa Speaks

Africa Speaks is an international network of professionals committed to a flourishing Christian publishing industry in Africa. 

Marketing Books—Getting the Discussion Going 

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Article By Africa Speaks
 
 
Basics

The old proverb is, “You can’t tell a book by its cover.” Book publishers add, “But you can sell a  book by its cover.” 

Marketing is positioning a book in the purchaser’s mind,  while sales (and distribution) is getting the product into the customer’s hands in exchange for a fair price. Both are essential for successful book publishing.  

The marketing of books includes the three “P’s”—the right product at the right price at the right  place. It includes the new digital realities of marketing as well as more traditional ways to create awareness and desire to purchase.  

 

Covers & Catalogues

Covers are tremendously important in marketing. They urge customers to purchase a particular book or to choose between multiple options. Some believe that subtitles are also important,  convincing the reader that this book is a worthwhile investment of time and money. The cover needs to attract the customer and to give a promise. Many do this by featuring an endorsement  by a famous or respected person on the front and also on the back cover. Publishers sometimes ask famous authors to endorse each other’s books. 

Which brings us to marketing books by showing the covers. Publishers’ catalogues or web pages  are designed to show off their products. Catalogues are expensive to print and distribute, but  now, electronic distribution is a big help. The ultimate “catalogues” are designed by eSellers such as Amazon, who not only display books from many publishers, but also give reviews,  endorsements, chapter readings, and “other books you might like.”  

How do you get your print catalogue to potential customers? Some put it in a shipment with  other books. Others actually print a mini-catalogue in the back of other titles, filling out the  pages with similar titles. What has worked for you, or hasn’t worked? Do you need a print catalogue, or can you stay with an electronic version? 

Can you join your catalog with other publishers to increase the choices for readers as well as  saving costs? Years ago Tyndale House placed racks of books in non-bookstore markets. When they increased the number of titles on display from 32 to 48, sales dramatically increased  because people had more choices. The more choices the buyers have the more likely it is that they will find titles they want. 

 

Sampling

In all marketing, we know that word-of-mouth advertising is very powerful, whether it is one  customer telling another, or a noted person or pastor recommending a book.  

We also know that sampling is powerful. Book purchasers standing before a display of books  first look at the front cover, then turn it over to look at the back cover, then tend to leaf through the book—possibly seeing if something inside catches their eyes. This is the ultimate  sampling. 

How do we harness these two powerful concepts for greater sales and distribution? What can we do to promote reading, both of our own company’s titles and those of other Christian  publishers? Perhaps as we exchange our ideas we will spark unique ways of marketing our Christian books. 

 

 

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Africa Speaks

Africa Speaks is an international network of professionals committed to a flourishing Christian publishing industry in Africa.

A Unique Survey of Booksellers in 19 African Countries

Article By Africa Speaks

The Africa Leadership Study research shed light on some of the challenges publishing and book distribution efforts face. Africa Speaks seeks to understand and have objective data that clarifies these challenges further. To that end the Africa Booksellers Survey 2022 project has been launched. It comes hot on the heels of the Africa Leadership Study with an in-depth study of the publishing in 19 countries. Africa Speaks will be visiting local booksellers to collect accurate data on the state of publishing in African cities between February 2022 to July 2023. The survey will gather input to understand:

  • How are books distributed in a country?
  • Which are the best-selling titles?
  • What’s the price the locals are willing to pay to purchase a book?
  • Who are the leading local authors?
  • What genres are the most popular among Christians in the country?
  • What role digital books play and how are they accessed?

Among the first surveys already conducted, the survey of booksellers in Tanzania provided detailed information about the players in the Christian publishing industry, the structure of the industry, the problems they face, and the opportunities and challenges that exist. It also provided a unique opportunity for an audience with leading Christian publishers.

 
Findings from the ALS

An encouraging finding from the ALS was its substantiation of the high level of importance books and reading have for leaders in Africa. Many of the survey respondents indicated a strong desire to read books that are both Christian and written by Africans. However, only 9.5% of the respondents surveyed were able to identify a favourite author that was both Christian and African. An in-depth analysis of this study was made and presented in the book: African Christian Leadership: Realities, Opportunities, and Impact by Kirimi Barine and Robert J. Priest.

In Chapter 10, entitled “Reading and Leading – Challenges for African Christian Leaders,” the authors outline the key factors contributing to a situation where an otherwise vibrant African Christianity has not produced the literature that African Christians seem to want and need. Among these factors are the following:

  • Publishing and marketing are expensive and require adequate economic underpinnings. Most African Christians live within socioeconomic settings that are quite different from those faced by Christians in North America, Europe, and parts of Asia. The current global financial market patterns related to Christian publishing work against the flourishing of Africa Christian authors.
  • Publishing is a competitive arena, where those with a greater presence on television and radio are better positioned with major publishers.
  • Christian missionaries historically distributed publications that were subsidized or free. Given such patterns, authors were understood to be making a gratuitous spiritual contribution through writing. They were not expected to make an actual living by writing excellent books that would sell in a competitive market. One result is that African Christian expectations about Christian publishing sometimes work at cross purposes to the cultural habits, competencies, and values needed for writing success in the modern world.
  • Most books by African authors are published locally, seldom marketed across their own country, much less beyond, and rarely see a second printing.

However, a fair number of the top leaders interviewed indicated a desire to write and had taken initial steps toward this end, but they also expressed a measure of uncertainty about how to proceed.
Considering all of this, the authors concluded that change will only occur if the broader structural factors are understood, and if a wide variety of Christian stakeholders, both in Africa and around the world, come to recognitions and commitments such as:

  1. A reading culture must be supported and fostered.
  2. The flourishing of African Christian writers is essential to the long term strength of the African church in addressing the realities that African Christians need help with. Deep commitments on the part of diverse stakeholders are necessary to help bring about such an outcome.
  3. Christian publishing and book distribution in Africa must be strengthened and prioritized.
  4. A culture of writing must be fostered.
  5. A wide variety of support for writers should be expanded from current levels.

These are virtually the same terms found in the Africa Speaks Accord, in which African publishing professionals committed to a thriving Christian publishing industry in Africa.

 
The Rationale and Implementation of ABS 2022

One of the findings of the ALS data analysis is the problem of book distribution, as can be read in the same chapter 10:

“Book distribution in Africa is a problem (Chakava 1996, 2007). Most books by African authors are published locally, seldom marketed across their own country, much less beyond, and rarely see a second printing. Of the twenty-three Anglophone countries in Africa, only four have fairly adequate wholesale book distributors—Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa. In those countries bookshop owners can acquire their stock locally. Since most English-language titles come from other countries, in the other nineteen countries local booksellers need to import most of the books they sell—a daunting task. To complicate matters further, it is often difficult if not impossible to import books from neighboring African countries (because of border tensions, weak or nonexistent infrastructure, import duties, and bribes being extorted at customs). Thus, it is often far easier to acquire books from the United States or Great Britain.”

The Africa Booksellers Survey will therefore provide a better understanding of the implications of book distribution in these countries. For any meaningful building of the Christian publishing in Africa as an industry, accurate, objective and updated data will be indispensable. The survey involves face to face meeting of publishing professionals, data collection using questionnaires and recorded interviews to share the state of publishing in each country as shared by the local practitioners.

 
The Goals of ABS

By visiting local booksellers and engaging with them, Africa Speaks is looking to gather accurate data on the state of publishing in African cities. This data is crucial for decision making in building a flourishing Christian publishing industry.
Another major goal is to put together a comprehensive directory of Christian publishing professionals on the continent. This will be organized and structured into a listing of the talent available among publishing professionals in Africa and help the players understand the various expertise available and geographical coverage.
The survey will also help establish an in-depth understanding of the history of Christian publishing in each country and the contextual dynamics that influence the present practice.
As the study continues, join in prayer that more booksellers may be reached and heard. And may the findings of this research help establish a thriving publishing industry in Africa.

 

 

 

Africa Speaks

Walking The Talk: Implementing the Africa Leadership Study Findings

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Article By Africa Speaks
 
A Rich History and Strong Foundation

Africa is a continent with a rich history of centuries of varied cultures, people groups, natural wonders and resources, amazing art, and music. Throughout that long history storytellers, teachers, scholars, artists, and leaders have inspired and nurtured a hunger for learning and wisdom. Earliest recorded history includes events and documents from Africa. Their wisdom and knowledge are a rich resource; a unique African treasure that has impacted the world through the ages. The Africa Study Bible: God’s Word Through African Eyes (Published by Oasis) includes extensive information and a timeline on the History of Christianity in Africa. It is a unique resource that combines the clear and precise text of the New Living Translation – with 2600 study tools and notes written by 350 contributors from 50 African countries, reflecting unique African ideas and experiences. Thomas C. Oden, author of How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity is a wonderful resource on this topic.

The contribution of Africa in global Christianity continues to shape the church around the world as this rich tradition lives on. Across Africa, men and women have stories to tell and wisdom to teach the Church and the wider culture. It is then necessary to have a robust publishing industry that assures these important African voices can be heard. Various publishing efforts are thriving, but the Christian publishing industry across the African continent as a whole faces many challenges.

Writers, editors, and publishing administrators have a vision to collaborate in nurturing and encouraging each other. After a gathering of African publishers in 2018 to evaluate and share information from their work, the group identified the realities and challenges. The objective data from the ALS research documented and confirmed their experiences. Collectively they crafted and signed The Africa Speaks Accord pledging to work together in determining strategies to overcome them. The implementation of the Africa Booksellers Survey will inform these efforts. More importantly, it will strengthen the Africa Speaks network.

Tyndale House Foundation (THF) has been part of this rich African tradition since its founding in 1963. In 1962 Dr. Kenneth N. Taylor wrote that he had visited 14 of the 28 new nations of Africa that had been formed. Such travels evidenced his deep interest in, and commitment to Africa. That interest and commitment was fertile ground for THF’s development of relationships with many organizations and individuals with a heart for Africa.

 

The Africa Leadership Study

The Foundation’s experience over the years affirmed that its investments in Africa were wisely managed by the recipients and were strategically important. However, they recognized weaknesses in their understanding of contemporary Africa. They wanted to learn about initiatives and opportunities that might better suit current circumstances. Most of the organizations with which the Foundation had worked across a wide variety of fields had Western rather than African roots. This prompted them to seek to understand the dynamics of leadership formation, to better understand what literature was available in Africa, who had written it, how it was distributed, and what role it played in leadership development. They also wanted to learn more about what was happening in the French and Portuguese speaking countries and cultures. Most importantly, they suspected that ministries with African roots could better understand the cultural context, define programs, and address priority needs in Africa. The study would better inform strategic investments in efforts that would have contextual impact.

In 2008 THF planted the seeds that grew into the Africa Leadership Study.

The Right Reverend Dr. Joseph Garang Atem Zorial from South Sudan, once said, “Your support provides a base for us to work together to make a space for God to act.” What an elegant description of the interaction between vision, hard work, and provision. It highlights the dynamic impact that unity in relationships, the hallmark of Christian community, can have. When everyone involved works together in unity, this makes space for the Holy Spirit. This was the context for THF’s decades-long research and development project.

“Your support provides a base for us to work together to make a space for God to act.”


Reading and Leading

Christians have often been at the forefront of mass literacy. Protestants, in particular, have emphasized the need for everyone to read the Bible and interpret it competently. Wherever these Christians have been influential, this value has had a positive influence on education, literacy rates, the publication of reading materials, and reading itself. And yet, the reading habits of Christians around the world have not often been researched and studied. In the book recently published to detail, document and share this study of African leadership, African Christian Leadership: Realities, Opportunities, and Impact, the tenth chapter was devoted to the topic of reading and leading. Entitled Reading and Leading – Challenges for African Christian Leaders, this chapter was included to initiate a first step toward researching and analyzing these habits and examining how understanding these habits might be helpful to those involved in writing, publishing, and distributing Christian materials today.

An understanding of reading habits, availability of literature and authors is essential in assessing leadership development. The survey included several questions regarding these topics.

  • Availability of Bibles and frequency of use
  • Computer, tablet, cell phone, internet access and use
  • Number of books read in a year
  • Availability and purchase of books, newspapers, magazines from bookshops or vendors
  • Availability of materials in digital format
  • Favorite authors

Researchers also visited bookshops and street vendors in all three countries, talking to owners and reviewing available materials. 

The raw data and the findings regarding Reading and Leading are available in the ALS materials. Africa Speaks recently reviewed this research in an article entitled Popular Fallacy About Africa Debunked by The Africa Leadership Study. Insight numbers 14 through 17 in 17 Insights into Leadership in Africa specifically focus on reading. The printable PDF of the booklet is available in English, French, and Portuguese.

 
What Did the Research Reveal?
  1. The Bible as the Word of God is important in the lives of African Christians. It plays a central role in outreach, leadership development, discipleship, and preaching. Fifty five percent of survey respondents read their Bible daily.
  2. There is a strong need for local Christian authors. The individuals identified as having a significant impact on the lives of those who responded to the survey were not listed as favorite authors: because they are not in print! They have a story to tell. They understand their local context. But for many different reasons they often haven’t invested in writing and don’t have a way to distribute what they might write.
  3. The need for local Christian authors is especially the case in Francophone and Lusophone Africa where it can be more difficult to acquire knowledge about leadership realities because most materials available are in English.
 
The Call

Africa Speaks is seeking to nurture a collaborative network of people and organizations committed to encouraging influential leaders to tell their stories. This would serve as an example and encouragement for voices across Africa to tell their stories and speak their wisdom in ways that fit their communities. These efforts are based on sound, contemporary research, done by Africans in Africa, that has identified realities related to reading, authorship, and publishing. Other effective resources for achieving this network are the experience, insight and lessons learned from long term efforts of publishers across the continent who have a vision of a flourishing publishing industry.

Africa Booksellers Survey (ABS 2022) comes hot on the heels of the Africa Leadership Study with an in-depth study of the publishing in 19 countries. The process and the first findings of this survey will be presented in more depth in the article devoted exclusively to the ABS.

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Africa Speaks

We are an international network of professionals committed to a flourishing Christian publishing industry in Africa.

South Sudanese Christian Publisher named as Anglican Communion Secretary General

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Article By Africa Speaks

The former Bishop of Kajo-Keji in South Sudan, and advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury on Anglican Communion affairs, the Right Reverend Anthony Poggo, has been appointed Secretary General of the worldwide Anglican Communion. His role is to head the Communion’s Secretariat, which is based at St Andrew’s House in London, UK. He is responsible for Primates’ meetings and meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council and its Standing Committee.


The Archbishop of South Sudan Justin Badi Arama, said: “We thank God that out of the suffering Church in South Sudan, God has raised Bishop Poggo to this highest position. He is coming at a time when the Anglican Communion is facing many challenges. But as Mordecai said to Esther; we trust God that ‘maybe it is for such a time like this that God brought you up.’ We encourage him to always be guided by the Scriptures as we support him in prayers.”

We thank God that out of the suffering Church in South Sudan, God has raised Bishop Poggo to this highest position.

He will bring to this role the experience of two decades of service as a bishop in South Sudan, years of experience as an editor with Scripture Union and Sudan Literature Center, and a childhood refugee background.

 
Scripture Union and ACROSS Legacy

After earning a master’s degree in Biblical Studies at the Nairobi International School of Theology, now Africa International University, Archbishop Anthony Poggo served among Sudanese refugees in Northern Uganda with Scripture Union (SU), becoming the first full-time South Sudanese staff worker for SU. He was ordained a deacon in 1995 and a priest in 1996. He continued to work for Scripture Union until he moved to Nairobi to join a Christian organization called ACROSS (Association of Christian Resource Organizations Serving Sudan). There he was asked to manage the Sudan Literature Center (SLC), which produces Christian books for Sudan.

After a few years, he took a one year leave from his work to earn an MBA in Publishing at Oxford Brookes University. Upon his return, he rose to the position of Publishing Director and eventually became the Executive Director of the organization. In an article published in the October 2001 issue of The Door, a magazine of the Diocese of Oxford, Archbishop Anthony Poggo said he was doing a Masters in Publishing because he needed to be better equipped in management and because it fit well with what he was doing in publishing at the literature center.

He said: “Many people ask me: ‘you are an ordained minister, where is your parish?’ My answer is that I consider my parish the entire group of people in Sudan who use our books.”

I consider my parish as the entire group of people in Sudan who use our books

The Sudan Literature Center Christian materials include hymnals, tracts, AIDS awareness material from a Christian perspective, prayer books, and song books. One of the popular titles is Shukuru Yesu, a collection of Juba Arabic and English songs which are popularly used across South Sudan and Sudan, and the diaspora.
 
Publishing and Literature Legacy

One of the people who inspired Archbishop Anthony Poggo to write was Myles Munroe, (1954-2014) a Bahamian evangelist and author of numerous books, speaker and leadership consultant who said: “If you want to continue your ministry beyond the grave, write a book.” Archbishop Poggo’s very first trip to the United Kingdom was to attend a Media Associates International (MAI)’s LittWorld conference in 1998. MAI is a non-profit organization which equips Christian wordsmiths, editors and publishing staff to create life-changing content in the world’s hard places.

Archbishop Anthony Bishop’s very first book was the result of a crucial choice. He chose to write a book first before finishing his research and thesis for his degree. He was convinced that a book would have more impact than a PHD research thesis that would be in a University library and maybe read by very few people. His book Come Let Us Rebuild, published by Tim Flatman in 2013, is a commentary on the Book of Nehemiah (who was himself a refugee) in which he highlights striking parallels between the Jewish remnant in Jerusalem, and the condition of his own nation, South Sudan, as it emerges from long-term conflict. Archbishop Poggo finds Nehemiah of urgent relevance to South Sudan on current issues such as climate change, planning, leadership, reconciliation, spiritual gifts, and community renewal. It certainly also speaks to today’s world, full of refugees and displaced persons from countries around the globe.

 

His second book, Tithing: A Biblical Investigation and Evaluation, published by the Sudan Literature Center, looks at Old and New Testament teachings, and supplies clear, practical principles to guide Christians in their giving.

Although his current role does not give him enough time to write as he would like, he is always willing to encourage those who have the ability and time to write. He would like to write a third book that includes lessons from what he learned serving as a Bishop for 20 years.

We thank Archbishop Anthony Poggo for his gracious granting of an in-person interview, despite his very busy schedule. Let us keep him in our prayers as he assumes his new role in the worldwide Anglican Communion – as he “speaks with an African voice.”

 

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Africa Speaks

We are an international network of professionals committed to a flourishing Christian publishing industry in Africa. We believe publishing—in its broadest sense—is a powerful tool to give voice to the heart and hope of Africa.

Celebrating the Life and Work of Robert B. Reekie (1930 – 2022)

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Article By MAI Africa

Robert B. Reekie, founding President of Media Associates International (MAI) and a pioneer in global Christian publishing training, died peacefully on July 18, 2022. He was 92.

Bob co-founded MAI in 1985 with the late James F. Engel, then Professor of Communication Research at Wheaton College Graduate School, and the late James L. Johnson, author and founder of the Communications Department at Wheaton Graduate School.

“Our vision was to be a catalyst for indigenous Christian publishing,” Bob said in a 2010 interview. “We were fervently committed to finding ways through training and guidance to see increasing print-media products conceived and published by Christians in the same countries where those materials would be sold and distributed.”

Our vision was to be a catalyst for indigenous Christian publishing

Starting with no salary or staff and only a typewriter and table in modest rental space, Bob assumed his duties as MAI President in May 1985. It was a step of faith that God would honor by ultimately growing MAI into a significant global work that to date has conducted trainings in more than 90 countries for 10,000 Christian publishing staff and writers.

“Bob was an inspiration and mentor to so many around the world,” said John Maust, who succeeded Bob as MAI President in 1998 when Bob retired. “His legacy will be felt for years to come.”

Bob was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on October 27, 1929, to Scottish immigrant parents. He held management positions with industrial firms there before leaving South Africa to pursue theological studies in America.

Completing his studies, Bob became a seminary professor of New Testament, as well as an ordained Baptist minister. In 1962, he accepted a position with the David C. Cook Foundation. As Executive Vice President and Director of the Foundation, he started its on-site training program and traveled extensively around the world.

Leaving Cook after 23 years and starting MAI presented Bob with perhaps the biggest challenge of his life. It was a decision lacking guarantees of success, but one Bob never regretted and that would help equip thousands of Christian communicators to create excellent culturally relevant content to nurture the Church and influence society for Christ.

“When Jim Johnson, Jim Engel, and I planned, dreamed, and talked about forming MAI, we knew the risk was mammoth, the future and sustainability uncertain, and the support for such a program quite unknown,” Bob said in the 2010 interview. “But we also believed that God’s leading was pressing us, and that it was opportune for MAI to launch into the deep.

“We called upon God to grant wisdom and strength to begin, reminded of Paul’s words to the Church in Corinth: ‘Therefore, since we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.’”

Bob is survived by his wife, Barbara Reekie, in Palatine, IL. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 6, at 1 p.m. at Community Church of Barrington, 407 S. Grove Ave., Barrington, IL 60010 (corner of Lincoln and Grove). The service will be livestreamed on the Facebook page of the Community Church of Barrington.

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MAI Africa

MAI equips Christian wordsmiths and publishing staff to create life-changing content in the world’s hard places.

 

Crisis Publishing Initiative

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Article By Africa Speaks

 

The Crisis Publishing Initiative conference held in Chicago from June 26 to 29 was crucial as it took place in the context of the current crisis in Eastern Europe and other socio-economic, religious and health crises around the world. Experts shared their experiences on the current topic of the war in Ukraine.

Katya Yefetova shared her impressions of the 3 life-changing days in Kiev as she applied her photojournalism experience to the well-organized digital defense effort in Ukraine. Jeremy Weber and Jayson Casper (Christianity Today) shared lessons on how to cultivate local sources and discern their unique angle as they covered the war in Ukraine from afar.

With regard to words and images, Dr. Sandra Morgan described how word choice can perpetuate unnecessary stereotypes. When it comes to visually communicating the stories of vulnerable children, Sarah Gesiriech encouraged participants to avoid stereotypes and sensationalism and to consider how images and words reflect on children, families, and communities.
Furthermore, some important stories come from areas where open sharing carries risks for those denied religious freedom. While it may be necessary to hide identifying details to tell a story, our readers still need to hear how God is working in the world. The complexities of this type of reporting were addressed by several experts, including Heather Pubols and Gökhan Talas.
Several workshops dealt with misinformation, disinformation and lack of information. While these issues have always been important to journalists, the industry behind the spread of misinformation now has widespread power through social media and websites that appear legitimate. Joseph Benjamin (Gujarati Christians) and Julia Bicknell (World Watch Monitor) were among those who addressed this issue.

This conference has been an amazing opportunity to learn from and connect with international experts


“This conference has been an amazing opportunity to learn from and connect with international experts,” says Katy Causey (Compassion International). “There are also many practical tools and ideas that I can apply in my everyday work.”

About 50 journalists representing the USA, Pakistan, India, Lebanon, Ghana, Kenya, Turkey and Ukraine participated in this conference.
“I think this conference is massive,” says Dr. Akosua Frempong, an experienced print, digital and broadcast journalist and one of the speakers at the one-day workshop that followed the Crisis Publishing conference. “I say that because Sharon [Mumper, president of Magazine Training International] and the MTI team have tapped into a critical area. Crises occur in our world all the time. Just as every organization needs to be prepared for crises because they are inevitable, journalists, too, need to be prepared to report crises effectively. Preparing journalists to handle crisis reporting well is a worthy effort.”


Based in the United States, she has worked as an anchor, producer, presenter and reporter on three continents, including Africa. As a speaker, the conference helped her realize the importance of the topic.


During the workshop, journalists had the opportunity to learn which social media platforms are used by which countries to communicate quickly, accurately and reliably, and how to use digital storytelling to communicate news and feature stories. Dr. Frempong focused on the use of smartphones and social media.


“I enjoyed presenting at the Digital Journalism Workshop,” she says. “I am passionate about journalism and excited about the new phase of the profession, with the introduction of digital and social media platforms. So, for my session, I was particularly interested in how journalists could use smartphones to record sound and video and take images for their publications. Nowadays, news media organizations expect that journalists have various skills and not just one skill. Because the industry has changed and there have been some cutbacks by print media organizations, in particular, journalists must have multimedia skills, and that was one of the workshop’s aims: to train journalists to be dynamic by knowing how to use smartphones for multimedia productions. I also spoke about using social media and how to effectively communicate to your audiences through them, including in times of crisis. I emphasized the popular social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. More specifically, my session highlighted how journalists could use these three social media platforms to disseminate their content and promote their publications.”
Beyond training and knowledge sharing, the Crisis Publishing Initiative conference was an opportunity for journalists working in difficult areas to pray for each other and be encouraged.

 

 

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Africa Speaks

Africa Speaks is an international network of professionals committed to a flourishing Christian publishing industry in Africa.

 

Popular Fallacy About Africa Debunked by The Africa Leadership Study

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Article By Africa Speaks

Is it true that if you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book? This fallacy is debunked in the African Leadership Study (ALS), which provided evidence that many African Christians read quite a bit. The 2016 ALS survey, initiated by Tyndale House Foundation, was carried out in Angola, the Central Africa Republic (CAR), and Kenya to identify strategic opportunities for supporting the development of Christian leaders in Francophone, Lusophone, and Anglophone Africa.

Africans are reading. The survey shows one-third of the respondents indicated they had read at least six books in the last year, with 60% of pastors reporting they had read at least six. The survey by Pew in 2014 showed that half of American adults had read five or fewer books in the previous year. While African Christians read books at lower rates than Americans do, the difference is less than one might expect. The more pertinent question, therefore, is what Africans are reading. It is interesting to note that Tanzania , for example, has about 80 local dailies (and even half dailies) according to Dr. Sokile, a local Christian publisher. This may easily be the highest in Africa.

 

Favourite Authors

One interesting finding is that many respondents identified a favourite author whose writings are explicitly Christian, with Kenya leading at 65%, Angola at 53% and CAR at 38%. Where the favourite author was Christian, they were highly likely to be American. The chance that a favourite author from the respondent’s country was Christian was very low. They also responded that they rarely read European or American authors who are not Christians. Only 9.5% identified favourite authors who were both African and Christian, begging the question, where are the African Christian writers?

So, even though a high proportion of African Christians named a favourite author who was African, and a large proportion of African Christians named a favourite author who was Christian, in the survey, only a small percentage of African Christians named a favourite author who was both African and Christian. African writers have provided an extensive body of literature that is not explicitly Christian, but an otherwise vibrant African Christianity has not produced the literature that African Christians seemingly desire and need. What are the factors contributing to this?


One factor is that favourite authors come from the list of books assigned for government schools to read. This exposes the author to a broad readership and increases their chances of being selected as a favourite author. While Christian educational institutions do not function under such a list, the books stocked in theological libraries similarly signal the importance of an author. The curriculum and the libraries of these institutions provide less support and exposure to African authors than do government schools.

In addition to the lack of placement in libraries and bookstores (both Christian and nonreligious booksellers), they also lack visibility and publicity on radio and television. A perusal of a Christian TV Channel showed that most of the speakers featured were American religious personalities. These are the same ones who top the list of favourite authors. Where there was an option for a book or author to be featured, the costs were prohibitive. These are some, among other factors, elaborated on in the ALS report.


What Does it Matter?

Prof. Jesse Mugambi, a long-time publisher and theologian, has asked, “How can Africa’s youth develop new insights to solve problems in the context of its own culture, while it is mostly presented with literature coming from other cultures?” The chapter of the ALS on ‘Reading and Leading’ concludes with proposed commitments that must be made in light of Jesse Mugambi’s words: The time has come for Africa’s elite to market their contribution toward shaping the future of this continent through publication of the knowledge and experience accumulated at home and abroad. You can find these commitments and other findings of the survey in the African Christian Leadership book.


Africa Speaks is structuring itself to provide discoverability for African Christian Authors in two ways; one, by providing a comprehensive database of leading Christian authors in each country and secondly, feature best-selling titles each year on our website, in the near future. A few weeks ago we shared a list from Dr. Harvey Kwiyani of some of the excellent books written by Africans about Africa here.


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Africa Speaks

We are an international network of professionals committed to a flourishing Christian publishing industry in Africa.

IFES-PBA Making Inroads in Francophone Africa… Literary!

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Article By Africa Speaks
 
The Need

Did you know there are 300 million French speakers worldwide today, up almost 10% since 2014, and a recent survey showed that 44% of them live in sub-Saharan Africa?

“French-speaking Africa is known for its material poverty. One element of this poverty is the lack of Christian literature resources in the French language. The need for French-language Bible study materials is, and remains to be, an even more profound source of poverty for the region.” These are Daniel Bourdanne’s words as he emphasized the importance of translating the Africa Study Bible into French.

 

 
Presses Bibliques Africaines

Working to meet this need is Presses Bibliques Africaines (PBA) the 2019 recipient of the Robert B. Reekie Global Publisher Award, an annual award by Media Associates International (MAI) recognizing ministry excellence by a Christian publisher serving in a challenging context. PBA is the publishing house of the GBUAF (Groupes Bibliques Universitaires d’Afrique Francophone), the IFES student ministry in Francophone Africa. GBUAF covers 19 countries and PBA distributes books in all those countries.

PBA was started in 1985 in Abidjan and after 22 years moved to Benin. The vision of the publishing house is to transform French-speaking readership with quality Christian literature produced by Africans. PBA authors must be Africans, and their writing must not lean towards a specific denomination.

 
FACTS
Full Name Presses Bibliques Africaines
Country Benin
Year started 1985
Manager Georges Late
Publishing Language French
Countries covered 19
Titles published to date 130
Fun fact Operated from Abidjan for the first 22 years
International awards 2019 Robert B. Reekie Global Publisher Award (MAI)
Affiliation IFES-GBUAF (Groupes Bibliques Universitaires d’Afrique Francophone)

 

The Work

In 2017 and 2018, ten titles were published each year, nine in 2019, seven in 2020 and eight in 2021. Five books were reprinted in that period, and the plan is to publish 12 books this year. The books are printed in Europe (Island of Malta, France) with the number of books printed raging from 1,000 – 5000 copies. The publishing is staffed by 4 permanent staff and has a general Christian readership cutting across churches, pastors, leaders, youth, women, academics, researchers, students and IFES staff.

 

 

Georges Late, the PBA Manager sees the difficulty in convincing people from an oral context to buy and read books as a big challenge of publishing in Francophone Africa. With regards to the prevalence of poor literature that is not consistent with the right Christian doctrine, he says “we have a responsibility to provide good literature at an affordable price, which is not easy.” The distribution of books published in the west for free has entrenched the mindset that Christian books must be free and African Christians seem unwilling to finance books’ production. This contributes to constant cash flow problems for the publishers.

The book is a true missionary that has no borders

 
The Challenges

Having been within the publishing industry for 13 years now, he knows well the challenges of being put on the job without basic training and identifies staff training as critical for a well-qualified team necessary to improve production quality. Being part of a network of African Christian publishers will be beneficial for publishing houses like PBA. “We have always sought opportunities to work in collaboration with older publishing houses to learn from them and be inspired by their success.”

 

Looking To The Future

In a parting shot Georges says, “If we are networked, we will be even stronger and more resilient in the face of the many challenges that try to wipe out small publishing houses.”
A core conviction of Africa Speaks is that a flourishing Christian publishing industry in Africa is an important component of fulfilling the mission of God and will benefit the people of Africa and the whole world and thus the urgency to fulfil our mandate to call all players to join us in the strengthening of a flourishing Christian Publishing industry in Africa.

 

 

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Africa Speaks

We are an international network of professionals committed to a flourishing Christian publishing industry in Africa.

Is it Possible to Have a Robust African Christian Publishing Industry?

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Article By Jeremy Taylor

“I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done”.
James Hudson Taylor

Research shows there is no continent with less publishing than Africa. There is a huge unsatisfied need for books for its vast population of 1.2 billion people spread over 54 countries. Who is better placed to meet this need than authors, publishers, trainers in publishing, printers and marketers of Christian literature on the continent?

To kickstart the process of answering this question, a survey on the status of Christian publishing in Africa was commissioned. Concluded in March 2017, 292 respondents from 51 countries (42 in Africa), were interviewed. Though the majority were English speaking, a third were French and six per cent, Portuguese. Pastors and those in church leadership positions were in the majority. Others were lecturers or students in higher education, bookshop owners, librarians, a good number of authors, publishers, and staff in Christian organisations. Lamentably, very few had read books written by African authors.

 

Number of Publishers

The survey reported more publishers on the continent than expected but not all of them publish titles every year and there were plenty of inactive websites. Self-publishing is growing and so is reading on electronic devices – especially in Lusophone Africa. As would be expected; while most of the respondents read books written in English, they also read in more than fifty other languages.

 

The Cost of Books

The cost of books remains the primary inhibitor to book purchasing. Logistics add substantially to prices. Shipping costs, are high and landlocked countries face particular challenges of corruption at border points and failed infrastructure.

An additional problem is the lack of foreign exchange and its high cost. For example, there is no Africa-based Lusophone Christian publisher. Angola is Portuguese-speaking and oil is its primary export. Thus, a drop in oil prices results in a substantial reduction of foreign exchange needed to import Portuguese-language books from Brazil, the country where most Lusophone titles originate.

There is no Africa-based Lusophone Christian publisher

Of great encouragement is the many leaders eager to see publishing flourish. Some of these include; Kahindo Katavo of the Baptist Community Center for Africa in Congo; Dr. Jules Ouoba Center for Evangelical Publications of Côte d’Ivoire, Dr. Barine Kirimi of Publishing Institute of Africa in Kenya, and Lawrence Dharmani of STEP Publishers in Ghana; all seeking to establish Africa owned book distribution.

 

Lack of Authors

In addition to high prices, logistics, and high or unstable foreign exchange rates, a lack of authors was reported as an inhibitor to African publishing. There are many people who wish to write including leaders of major ministries and denominations. It can be argued that the lack of authors is tied to the lack of publishers and that once publishers are established on the continent, authors from Africa will write.

 

The Future

While the problems facing African publishers are not new, there are new solutions. Logistical issues are overcome by printing locally (POD) and by the growth in the usage of smartphones (eBooks). There is a growing pool of potential authors. For example, there are 350 Africa Study Bible writers. These things indicate that this time, more than any other, is ripe for the birth of a robust African publishing industry.

And thus, in March 2018 – Africa Speaks was born! Leaders committed to seeing a flourishing publishing industry in Africa, 48 men and women from across Africa and the world, met at Trinity University in Bannockburn, Illinois. They created and signed the Africa Speaks Accord, defining their mission to facilitate a network of like-minded persons and organisations who will commit to working together to foster a flourishing African publishing industry for the enrichment of the Church and society in Africa and throughout the world.

This community welcomes those who work in some aspect of the publishing profession in Africa to join as full participants; or as associates due to their interest in some aspect of the publishing profession including an interest in literature and reading in general. With cooperation, we can live to see this great work of God – a flourishing Christian publishing industry in Africa – turn from impossible, through difficult to eventually being done!

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Jeremy Taylor

Jeremy Taylor is the President and CEO of Tyndale House Foundation