Publishing on a Wall

by Ian Darke

These days I type birthday wishes and other notes on a “wall” to greet my Facebook friends.  But a normal bricks and mortar wall can still serve to publish a message.  

Two friends in Africa recently launched a magazine to help develop reading habits among a people whose language was recently put in written form. To reach a cluster of villages, they decided to publish on a wall in each location. There weren’t any any "bricks and mortar" walls available, so in each village they asked local leaders for permission to build. The leaders got excited and granted permission gladly.  

My friends built ‘reading walls’ in each village. These free standing L-shaped walls are designed with a thatched roof to protect the contents and the readers from the elements. The walls offer a public, sheltered space for their magazine to be read by individuals or as a group with lively discussion. 

Walls were built first, but rafters and roofs were incomplete at the magazine’s launch last November. So, they launched the first edition of the 20-page magazine by posting 3-page teasers and this notice: 

"People of xyz part of town! If you put the rafters on your reading wall in order to show that you will indeed thatch it yourself, we will come and paste up the missing 17 pages!" By the next night, the rafters were up in one central location.

Across town next to a primary school, a crowd of young men stopped their soccer game to watch the pages being pasted to the walls. They clapped their hands, thrilled to discover something they could read in their own language.

My friends are already compiling the next issue. 

Next time you check Facebook, remember real walls are still powerful publishing venues.  

Latin American Walls 

Publishing news and opinions on ‘periódicos murales (wall newspapers)’is a long tradition in Latin America. These walls are community gathering points in colleges and universities, workplaces and offices, town squares and church porches. University groups across Latin America publicize on walls to invite new students to Bible study groups or to take a stand on a pressing issue. 

One friend “publishes” a weekly reflection on a notice board where the 400 workers of his factory clock in. Colleagues offer feedback over the lunch hour, and his publishing venture is remarkably successful.  

Ian Darke is MAI's Latin America regional trainer and coordinator of Letra Viva, a network of Latin Christian publishers in Latin America.