Echoing Green Finalist: The Golden Baobab Prize, Inspiring A New Generation Of African Writers

It started as a book drive. In 2007, Deborah Ahenkorah was a student at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania — a far cry from her native Ghana. She loved to read as a child — but was struck that every book she read while growing up in the capital city of Accra, took place in a foreign country.  

“I rarely read about Ghanaians or Africans,” she recalled in her speech to the judges as a 2011 Echoing Green Fellowship Finalist.

Ahenkorah was passionate about solving the problem of African illiteracy, so she started an organization to collect and ship books to children in Africa.

“One day I came across a children’s book with illustrations of a young black girl,” Ahenkorah said as she described one of her college book drives to Echoing Green.

“I realized that of the thousands of books we had collected, that was the first one with images that looked anything like the African children we were supporting,” she continued.

“Suddenly book drives were not enough. Africans need to produce African children’s books for their youth. I started a literary award, the Golden Baobab Prize, to make this happen.”

Now in its third year, the Golden Baobab Prize is an annual literary award that discovers, celebrates and nurtures promising African writers of children’s literature.

The prize, which invites African citizens to submit unpublished short stories about Africa, is divided into three categories: best story written for ages 8-11, best story written for ages 12-15 and the Rising Writer Prize, awarded to a promising young author under the age of 18. Each winner receives a cash prize and is connected with publishers all over the world.

The first year alone, there were 76 entries from 9 countries. Last year that number more than doubled to 160 entries from 12 countries. This year’s deadline is midnight GMT on June 21st.

Ahenkorah is clear about her mission: “The Golden Baobab Prize will ensure that great African classics like Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart are not released once every 40 years, but 40 books every year.”

As she says on her website, “Our dream in ten years is to see bookstores all over the world overflowing with beautifully-written and illustrated African books for children and young adults.”

Related Reading:

Echoing Green Finalist: Mobius Motors, Creating A Vehicle For Change

Echoing Green Finalist: Afghan Scholar’s Initiative

Drop the Chalk: Changing Classroom Focus [VIDEO]


Graphic courtesy of the Golden Baobab Prize


W. C
W. C8 months ago


William C
William C8 months ago

Thank you.

jessica w.
jessica w7 years ago

this is great!

Janine Hofmann
Janine H7 years ago

Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

Janine Hofmann
Janine H7 years ago

Hopefully books will stay forever and do not vanish because of internet. And hopefully there are more people who like books, who like real paper in their hands with real ink. I love books. And as long as i can think back they have been the only friends i ever had. Books don't hurt (only when thrown) as people can hurt. And they can help to survive some things achild or an adult doe not want to go through... But books don't have a warmth of embrace :(

Abbe A.
Azaima A7 years ago


Carole K.
Carole K7 years ago

TY Suzi, for the article. Deborah Ahenkorah is an excellent example of the principle that the individual committed person dedicated to a cause CAN precipitate change. This is the lesson to by shared by/with everyone. Margaret Mead & Mahatma Ghandi are smiling!! Be & live the change!!!

David N.
David N7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Magdalena K.
Past Member 7 years ago


wizzy wizard
wiz w7 years ago