What you need to know:
- Global Book Alliance is committed to providing children across the world with access to quality books.
- The steering committee, that Chakava will chair for the next three years holds decision-making authority for the Alliance.
Publishing guru, Dr Henry Chakava has got another feather on his illustrious hat. This was after he was elected as chairman of the Global Book Alliance’s steering committee.
Established in 2018, GBA is a consortium of several of donor agencies, multilateral institutions as well as civil society groups committed to providing children across the world with access to quality books.
The Alliance says it seeks to contribute to global education efforts by ensuring that the world’s children have access to quality books with which they can learn to read, read to learn and ultimately develop a lifelong love of reading.
GBA whose partnership comprises Unicef, Unesco, USAID, UNAID, IDEA, DfID and the World Bank works to address the global children’s book gaps by establishing robust local markets for books. It does so by addressing the challenges across the entire book chain, ranging from title development, publication, procurement, distribution to usage.
“Through his trailblazing work, Dr Chakava has promoted African writers, furthered indigenisation of the publishing industry, promoted observance of international standards, and ensured access to books for children,” GBA said in their citation posted on their website.
East African Educational Publishers (EAEP), publishing house that Dr. Chakava founded and chairs, hailed the election as fitting, given his passion and commitment towards promotion of a reading culture in Africa.
“The election of Dr Chakava as the Chair of GBA is not only an honour to his lifetime’s endeavour at cultivating the culture of lifelong learning, but it is also a recognition that Africa can produce the very best to lead the world in positively disrupting the status quo, in driving change in learning and in mainstreaming indigenous knowledge and languages in global education,” EAEP chief executive officer Kiarie Kamau, said in a statement.
He added that even though the appointment is a global position, it puts Kenya, and Africa in general, in good stead to reap the benefit from the policies and projects that GBA will initiate and implement.
As pioneer publisher Dr Chakava is reputed for setting up African book associations and councils as well as encouraging international partnership and collaborations in the book industry.
The steering committee, that Chakava will chair for the next three years holds decision-making authority for the Alliance. It sets strategy, selects activities for investment (including GBA flagships), and identifies best practices.
His immense experience and leadership in publishing will be useful in steering the committee towards the Alliance's stated ambition to see all children have access to high-quality, local language books at the right reading level, as well as the support they need to use them effectively by 2030.
Reacting to his appointment, the man who has been described by some critics as the ‘custodian of our national conscience’ because of his foundational role on indigenous African publishing said governments and the private sector should prioritise children’s access to books at an early age.
“Our success should see to it that from an early age, children can easily access books, embrace reading as a fulfilling pastime,” he said.
The honour is indeed befitting for Dr Chakava whose name is synonymous with publishing books, and whose entire adult life has been spent between the pages earning himself the sobriquet “the father of Kenyan publishing.”
A member of a revered group of founding publishers that Chinua Achebe referred to as “conspirators of African Writers Series Selfless, Dr Chakava stepped into publishing in 1972 as a brief stop-over on his higher academic sojourn has found himself trapped in the book pagers 50 years later.
Soon after graduating from the University of Nairobi in 1972 Chakava joined the Heinemann Educational Publishers as an editor as he waited to pursue a master’s degree in the UK. Later he became the managing editor and the rest, as they say is a long history, that will forever dominate the publishing industry in Kenya and Africa.