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General News of Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Source: Ivor A.Duah

Ghanaian Publisher Receives Queen's Honors

Ghanaian-born Oxfordshire Publisher Awarded an MBE on Her Majesty the Queen’s New Year Honours List in the UK


Nana Ayebia Clarke was born in Ghana and emigrated to the UK in 1974. She has BA and MA degrees from the Open University (OU) and the University of Oxford respectively. She was Literature Submissions Editor of the highly acclaimed Heinemann African and Caribbean Writers Series at Oxford for 12 years. In her time there, the vast list of prominent African and Caribbean writers including some Nobel prize-winning authors whom she helped publish include Wole Soyinka, Ama Ata Aidoo, Chinua Achebe, Nadine Gordimer, Ayi Kwei Armah, Derek Walcott, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Kofi Awoonor, Kofi Anyidoho, several others. After the African and Caribbean Writers was discontinued, Nana Ayebia together with her husband David Clarke in October 2003 founded Ayebia Clarke Publishing as a way of unearthing new talent and looking at new directions in African writing and publishing.

Within a remarkably short time, Ayebia Clarke Publishing has established itself as a leading African international brand of quality that publishes African and Caribbean literature from both established and new authors, thereby filling the huge gap left by the demise of Heinemann’s African and Caribbean Writers’ Series. Ayebia has in this regard developed a clear marketing strategy, with effective distribution channels and arrangements in Africa, the United Kingdom, Europe and USA and other parts of North America, thereby positioning itself within a strong network of key organizations involved with African and Caribbean literary studies internationally.

A central part of Ayebia’s business venture and its intellectual project is to introduce talented and fresh African and Caribbean voices to a wider international readership by particularly targeting schools, colleges and the university market in Africa and the developing world. Among the noble aims of Ayebia is to get the different kinds of writing for different levels of readership onto reading lists primarily in Africa, the UK, Europe, the United States and the rest of the world. Ayebia’s books are used in various academic institutions and departments internationally and are found on African Literature, History and Cultural Studies courses as well as studies of colonial and postcolonial discourse analysis.

Ayebia has recently published the following books by prominent Ghanaians writers:-

1. African Love Stories Anthology edited by Ama Ata Aidoo (2006).
2. Between Faith & History: A Biography of J. A. Kufuor by Ivor Agyeman-Duah (2006).
3. The Legacy of Efua Sutherland: Pan African Cultural Activism Co-edited by Anne V. Adams and Esi Sutherland-Addy (2007).
4. Bu Me Be: Proverbs of the Akans by Peggy Appiah, Kwame Anthony Appiah and Ivor Agyeman-Duah (2007).
5. Broadening the Horizon: A Critical Introduction to Amma Darko edited by Vincent O. Odamtten (2007).
6. Fathers & Daughters: An Anthology of Exploration edited by Ato Quayson (2008).
7. An Economic History of Ghana: Reflections on a Half-Century of Challenges and Progress edited by Ivor Agyeman-Duah (2008).
8. Traces of a Life: A Collection of Elegies and Praise Poems by Abena P.A. Busia (2008).
9. Empathy & Rage: Female Genital Mutilation in African Literary Studies Co-edited by Tobe Levin and Augustine H. Asaah (2009).
10. The Other Crucifix a novel by Benjamin Kwakwe (2010).
11. Pilgrims of the Night: Development Challenges And Opportunities in Africa by Ivor Agyeman-Duah (2010).

In 2011-12 Ayebia plans to publish the following Ghanaian works:

1. The Place We Call Home & Other Poems by Kofi Anyidoho
2. SeedTime: Selected Poems by Kofi Anyidoho.

Ayebia’s Forthcoming titles in 2011-2012 include:
1. Ama Ata Aidoo at 70: A Festschrift in Celebration of an iconic Ghanaian and Internationally Recognized Writer of Our Generation edited by Anne Adams.
2. A Life in Art: The Making of Ablade Glover
3. Akpokplo: A Play for Children by Kofi Anyidoho
4. The Phone Call to MawuNana God: A Children’s Story by Kofi Anyidoho.
5. And Crocodiles are Hungry at Night… by Jack Mapanje.

Ayebia has also published other great and up-and-coming African & Caribbean writers including the Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka’s latest Memoirs You Must Set at Dawn (which Ayebia co-published with Bookcraft Nigeria). Others include Manthia Diawara, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Lewis Nkosi, Njabulo Ndebele, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Véronique Tadjo, Tuzyline Jita Allan, Carole Boyce Davies and a plethora of distinguished African women writers under Ayebia’s African Love Story Anthology including Nawal El Saadawi, Molara Ogundipe, Chika Unigwe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Yaba Badoe, Sindiwe Magone, Elleke Boehmer, Leila Aboulele, Helen Oyeyemi, Wangui wa Goro, Sarah Manyika, Antjie Krog et al.



Cultural Activism
Ayebia’s books are aimed at redressing the historical imbalance in writing about Africa and Africans that has tended to be dominated by outsiders thus denying Africans their own voice. Her experience as an African publisher trained at the University of Oxford and her deep involvement with the erstwhile Heinemann African Writers’ Series makes her centrally placed to engage with the finest brains and the best writing from African from an insider’s perspective. As African creative and scholarly writing takes its rightful place within universally recognized literature, it is Ayebia’s vision is to make writing from Africa even more visible and accessible to the international scholarly community by celebrating Africa’s contribution to world knowledge, given that this is either often neglected or entirely ignored.

As a publishing house and as a project that is centrally located as part of Africa’s emerging creative and artistic industry, Ayebia is very much aware of the urgent need to provide positive role models for the younger generation of Africans growing up both at home on the continent and in the Diaspora .It is therefore an indispensable part of Ayebia’s long-term vision and project to inculcate within the African youth the belief that it is possible to be black and successful. Ayebia’s books are also in this sense produced to the highest quality and distributed internationally.

Future Projects to Promote African Writing
Ayebia is currently engaged in negotiations with the Publishers of classic African texts that have gone out of print and will be bringing these back for use in schools, colleges and universities throughout Africa and the African Diaspora, both as a way of highlighting the existence of the vast corpus of African literature and as a way of sustaining Africa’s. rich intellectual and historical legacy.

Fundraising
A particular strength of the Ayebia publishing outfit is fundraising for African projects at home and abroad. Ayebia is currently funded by the Arts Council of England, as part of the project of publishing and promoting quality African and Caribbean writing to a world audience. At the beginning of 2008, Ayebia Clarke Publishing Limited was chosen as one of only two Literature organizations in the UK to receive a 3-year Arts Council funding support. Ayebia is currently also negotiating with the European Integration and Immigration department to develop books that promote multicultural understanding and tolerance for international use.

It also has a wide-range of contacts ranging from academics in international institutions to critics, writers and contacts in the business sector. All of this makes Ayebia centrally placed to explore the use of these contacts for the benefit of African knowledge dissemination.

Proprietress Nana Ayebia is based in Banbury, Oxfordshire where she lives with her English husband David and son Kweku.

About the Award
Reacting to news of the award, Nana Ayebia asserts:
‘I am deeply honoured and humbled by this award. In spite of colonialism and all its negative legacies, this is a public recognition of the work Ayebia has been engaged in since 2003. It is an acknowledgement of the huge contributions Africans in the Diaspora are making to world knowledge. It is profoundly gratifying to receive this award and I would like to dedicate it to all Ghanaians (especially our writers, teachers and academics) and other Africans, and to my family for their unwavering support and belief in me. It is proof (if proof were needed) that Africans are capable of engineering and managing their own institutions to the highest international standards’.