The Power of Literature to Change Minds
The Global Centre for Pluralism was pleased to partner with the Aga Khan Museum to present the Museum’s fifth Annual Lecture. Celebrating the world-shaping stories of Africa, this year’s speaker was Deborah Ahenkorah, a Ghanaian social entrepreneur and book publisher – and one of the winners of the 2019 Global Pluralism Award.
In her powerful lecture, Ahenkorah told the story of how she was inspired, as an undergraduate student, to start the literary non-profit Golden Baobab, with virtually no resources or experience in the field of publishing.
She was driven by a very ambitious vision and unwavering commitment to change representation in children’s storybooks. She talks about the importance of giving African children the opportunity to see their own stories and experiences reflected in the books they read. Through her ground-breaking efforts, Deborah started the Golden Baobab Prize, which has grown to be one of the most respected awards in the African children’s literature industry. The Prize champions opportunities for African writers and illustrators to produce more culturally-relevant children’s books.
Following her lecture was a discussion with CBC Radio’s Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe. The event also included an energetic performance by the children’s choir from St René Goupil Elementary School.
“We have carried our histories through oral tradition over years and those stories have carried our cultures. But where are those stories when we look at the world of children’s books?”
Deborah Ahenkorah started her first education organization, Project Educate In Africa, as a teenager, and has spent the past 10 years exploring solutions to diversify children’s literature in Africa. As well as Golden Baobab, she founded the publishing house African Bureau Stories. She has been nominated by the African Leadership Network for Best Social Entrepreneur in Africa, recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Global Shaper, and granted fellowships with the Aspen Institute and Echoing Green. Her work has been featured in major international media, including the New York Times, BBC, and France 24. In November 2019, she was awarded the Global Pluralism Award by the Global Centre for Pluralism recognizing her efforts to show children that the wold is a stronger, more interesting place when we value and uplift diverse cultures and stories.