Friday, December 6, 2019


‘You’re my favourite author – I’ve listened to all your books.’
Amusing as that may sound, it might soon become as natural as breathing, given the rising popularity of audio books. Electronic technology has revolutionized every aspect of the book trade. In an interview with the podcast website Smells Like Human Spirit, a non-fiction author said that these days, instead of his fans requesting autographs, they prefer to take ‘selfies’ with him so that they can share them on social media. And you don’t even have to indicate the date as the uploaded ‘pic’ will have an automatic ‘date/time stamp’ and sometimes even the location. Hurriedly-scribbled autographs are becoming old hat.
From an article titled, ‘Ivory Coast Reggae Legend Alpha Blondy Proves Why Reading Is Fundamental’, written by Erickka Sy Savané:
‘When 62-year-old Ivorian Reggae legend Alpha Blondy, born Seydou Kone, set out to do a radio station in Abidjan, who could have dreamed that a show centered on reading books would be a hit? Wouldn’t it make more sense to keep the focus on music, since selling millions of records worldwide is what Blondy is known for?...
Radio Livre, or ‘Book Radio’ translated, is becoming one of those daily gather-around-the-radio-it’s-time-for-uncle-Alpha-to-read-us-a-book pastimes. For Blondy, Radio Livre, which airs on his own station, “Alpha Blondy FM,” serves his agenda. “I’ve always loved to read,’ he said in a recent interview. “Our goal is to encourage young people to read. And at least those who don’t know how to read know how to listen.”
In 2018, Ghanaian audiobook start-up, AkooBooks, won the African Entrepreneurship Award. TNPS (The New Publishing Standard) reported the news thus:
‘As with ebooks, so with audiobooks. While the big western digital book companies steer clear of the African continent bar a toe in the waters of South Africa, local talent is rising to fill the vacuum. Kenya’s eKitabu, Nigeria’s Publiseer and OkadaBooks…And in Ghana, AkooBooks Audio, which this week won a High Potential Innovation Award in Morocco where the 4th edition of the African Entrepreneurship Award Program was held in Casablanca.’
Literary reviewers/commentators/promoters are increasingly turning to audio channels (especially podcasts) in order to reach and expand their target audiences. In an article for Africa Writes, titled ‘Books in Your Ears: On Literary Podcasts’, Gaamangwe Joy Mogami (Botswana) wrote:
‘There is a new and totally rad(ical) trend of exciting podcasts curated by African literary enthusiasts, curators and activists and I am here for it! This emerging trend is an exciting development for the young but growing African literary industry because we need diverse and multi-faceted ways of consuming and accessing our literature.
A little over a decade ago, I only knew a handful of African books and storytellers. And this was a case of lack of accessibility to the knowledge of what was available in African literature and where one could access these African literary works. But a lot has since changed because of the emergence of digital literary magazines and social media platforms that are dedicated to publishing, engaging and archiving African literature. At this point, I believe the majority of our African countries have one or more publishing platform for African writers. It is all exciting!
But we still need more and diverse platforms that will grow African literature. Platforms that are spaces for recapitulating, re-experiencing, reviewing and re-engaging our favourite stories and the amazing storytellers who create them. And so enter podcasts.'
African literature ‘podcasters’ include:
  • BakwaCast (Cameroon)
  • 2 Girls & A Pod (Kenya)
  • The Cheeky Natives (SA)
  • Not Another Book Podcast
  • No Bindings
Source: ‘Changing the Literary Map of Africa’:

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