The Stories Across Africa project (StAAf) is producing anthologies of stories for children from birth to teens to enjoy in their own languages. Stories old and new are in the process of being collected, written, rewritten, translated and illustrated for a range of modern – day African children in rural and urban settings.
Promoting a sense of common African identity
The spirit of the African Renaissance promotes efforts to nurture a sense of common identity across the continent. This starts in childhood. African children need opportunities to experience the stories of Africa, past and present in written form, like generations of children in Europe and elsewhere have done. Children from many different countries in the North have grown up on anthologies like Grimm’s Fairy Tales. They have thus shared the same heritage, but in their own languages. Till now, no such common written anthologies have existed for Africa, the ‘cradle of humanity’.
When parents, teachers and children have access to books that they can read with each other in a familiar language, we will begin to build a sense of common African identity and literate communities.
Promoting literacy development
For many reasons, publishers in most African countries have concentrated on textbook production - mostly in English, French or Portuguese. Sadly, this has left little space for developing reading materials to encourage and support reading for enjoyment in African languages. Yet reading for enjoyment stimulates and supports literacy learning. At the turn of the 21st Century our challenge is to turn around an appalling record of failure to teach people to read and write. A significant step is to have enough appropriate reading materials available.
The StAAf project collaborates with African publishers in all 5 regions. Initially books will be printed in the AU official languages (English, Kiswahili, French, Portuguese and Arabic) and 5 regional cross-border languages. Other languages will be added as and when funds permit.
StAAf is a pan –African project of the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN), a specialized language agency of the African Union.
Central co-ordination is at the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA), University of Cape Town with regional sub - centres in each of Central, West, East and North Africa as well as the Diaspora.