Inside MAI Blog: Thoughts on global publishing
New day coming for French-speaking Africa
“Being an evangelical publisher for the French-speaking world is the worst of two worlds,” quipped Greg Burgess of Editions Clé in France. “In Europe, the population has means, but there are very few Christians; in Africa, there are millions of Christians but very limited resources.”
Christian publishing in Francophone Africa remains fragile at best, and Greg has been a big help to MAI training of the region’s Christian publishers and writers, who have generally received far less support than their English-language colleagues on the continent. Why?
“French-speaking Africa was often regarded as the poor man of the evangelical world, because of its colonial past characterized by a low vitality of Protestantism in France and Belgium,” wrote Daniel Bourdanné, a native of Chad and general secretary of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IEF).
“Missiologically, French-speaking Africa was often neglected, because this part of the world is culturally difficult and little known by the evangelical world dominated by the American and Anglo-Saxon culture.”
Some 20 African countries have French as an official language. MAI wants to do more to strengthen Christian publishing and writing in these nations, and so does director Jules Ouoba of Centre de Publications Evangéliques in Cote d’Ivoire.
Jules has organized a series of regional publishing workshops in recent years, and the next such training is scheduled for Congo (Brazzaville) in September. Sixty participants from 8 nations are expected for the marketing and writer workshop led by MAI trainers.
Greg Burgess recalls visiting a seminary library in a Francophone African country. The librarian proudly showed him the collection of thousands of books. Only 20% of the books were in French, unfortunately. “That meant the better part of their library was of little use to the students,” he noted.
Greg, Jules and MAI envision a day when Francophone Africa’s libraries, churches, bookstores, family bookshelves, computers and even e-readers and mobile phones are filled with books written by its own authors.
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