Ayebia Wins African Literature Association (ALA) 2018 Flora Nwapa Society Award for Publishing Distinction

Jun 13, 2018

On Thursday 24th May 2018 Nana Ayebia Clarke MBE was awarded the 2018 Flora Nwapa Publishing Award at the 44th Annual African Literature Association (ALA) Conference in Washington DC. The citation of the Award read: “Flora Nwapa Society Award for Work That Promotes Literary Creativity, Culture and Perception That Transcend Boundaries” – Nana Ayebia Clarke MBE, Cultural Activist, Publisher and Managing Director of Ayebia Clarke Publishing Limited, Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK.

Nana Ayebia also presented a paper at the ALA Conference at a Roundtable on African Women Publishers and the Book Industry: Then and Now titled: “Pioneering African Women Publishers: Publishing as Cultural Activism” on Friday 25th May from 1.30 – 3.00pm.

In the paper, she highlighted the pioneering contributions of African women Publishers including Flora Nwapa from Nigeria, Efua Sutherland from Ghana and Claudia Jones from Trinidad who blazed the trail at a time when at best African women writers were not on the radar of most publishing houses in the metropolitan capitals of the West and at worst, they were regarded as “minor writers” because their work was not considered valuable or worthy of publishing or promotion locally or internationally.

Nana Ayebia cites these African women publishing on the continent and in the Diaspora as her role models. Claudia Jones was a journalist and an activist who started the first Black newspaper in the UK – the West Indian Gazette & Afro-Asian and Caribbean News in 1958 after she was deported from the US in 1955 to the UK for her Communist sympathies. Her homeland, Trinidad in the West Indies, was still a British colony, and she was deported to its ‘mother country’ - Britain. Claudia Jones was a hugely influential figure in Black British Society and history who actively sought and created connections between Africa and its Diasporas through her work and publications.

In her acceptance speech, Nana Ayebia thanked The Flora Nwapa Society’s President Dr Marie Linton Umeh, for her dedication and devotion in upholding the legacy of Flora Nwapa by ensuring that her work and contributions to the collective history of the literary and publishing tradition of African women remain alive and visible. She also thanked the African Literature Association and WOCALA for the platform to honour the legacy of Flora Nwapa and for their work in promoting and celebrating African women’s contributions to world knowledge.

She informed the panel that Google paid homage to Flora Nwapa’s legacy on January 13, 2017 with a ‘Doodle’ crediting her as the “Mother of Modern African Literature” on what would have been her 86th birthday.

Nana Ayebia dedicated her 2018 Flora Nwapa Society Publishing Award to her family (especially her husband David) for their unwavering support and, to the next generation of aspiring African Women Publishers.

To read her full paper please visit our In the News section at www.ayebia.co.uk