Throughout our childhood, we were surrounded by the stereotype that Africans do not like reading, that the book is the best place to hide a treasure from a black person.
We found this hard to relate to because we knew the delights and wonders of reading. But the danger of this stereotype is that it implicitly encourages young Africans to shun reading and obscures those who are avid readers.
During our childhood, we mostly fed our imaginations with works imported from elsewhere. Scrooge Magazine, ZEMBLA comics, Rodeo… were the main books we read. And this, of course, will impact on our representation of the world and our representation to the world.
The problems posed by children’s literature are certainly not new and the Muna Kalati team does not claim to have discovered them. But we wish to offer our support to all those who are interested – librarians, researchers, educators and parents.
Muna Kalati, in Douala, refers to “children’s book”, and was born from the desire to make books and reading a playful activity that fits naturally into daily practices in Cameroon and Africa. We want to use reading as a means of answering the questions that African children ask themselves as they become more involved in the life of the universe and also in the society of which they are a part.
With books, a continent is already being discovered, from school and extracurricular works to the very rich galaxy of leisure works, stories, tales and novels, picture books, animated books, alphabet books and play books… We are thus endeavouring to draw up lists of selected works with a view to eliminating what is mediocre and vulgar. This is a difficult task. The librarian, who is often isolated and has a heavy workload, does not have the time to read all the books he or she proposes to the children. We are concerned about this problem; thanks to the dedication of several of its members, the analysis of the children’s books that appear is done with care. The most interesting new books will be grouped together in our quarterly magazine Muna Kalati.
Our vision is to bring children’s books to life and to make them a life for young people. This vision manifests itself through our:
- Passion – We are passionately committed to promoting the African children’s book industry.
- Fairness – We address all players in children’s publishing and all age groups of readers.
- Integrity – We provide access to quality and reliable information from organisations and individuals in the youth sector.
- Support – We run competitions to encourage writers and respond to comments and requests from subscribers.
- Diversity – We believe that children’s literature should reflect reality and feed the imagination of all children.
Our objectives are therefore to :
- Contributing to the accessibility of video games and books (content and container) for young people
- Promoting African video games and reading pleasure
- To increase the visibility of the actors of the video game industry in Africa as well as those of the Cameroonian and African youth edition
- To contribute through research to the legitimisation of children’s books and the structuring of the video game ecosystem in Africa