Building Relationships Key to BFA's Success

Books For Africa Executive Director Patrick Plonski recently returned from Washington, D.C., where he attended the 59th annual meeting of the African Studies Association (ASA), and met with key partners, including USAID and several African Ambassadors.

The ASA annual meeting is the largest gathering of African scholars in the world, with over 2,000 scholars and professionals attending.  This year’s meeting, titled Imagining Africa at the Center: Bringing Scholarship, Policy, and Representation in African Studies, focused on the need to “interweave academy, policy, and practice” in African Studies.  Recognizing the wide variety of ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity throughout the continent, and breaking the perception of the African continent as a singular entity was also key to the discussion.  Being part of this discussion allows BFA to connect with a wide variety of individuals and organizations interested in promoting literacy in Africa, and helps guide our efforts in making sure that we are meeting the needs of all the different types of recipient groups that we work with.

Plonski also met with African Ambassadors from Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Somalia, and Sudan to help raise awareness of BFA’s efforts to end the African book famine, and to open the door for future collaborations.  Meetings with Equatorial Guinea could lead to BFA’s first ever shipment to the country, and a container of Spanish language books was discussed, which would be another first in organizational history.  Identifying and developing these key relationships allows BFA to better understand the needs of each country, and will ultimately result in high quality, relevant books being put in the hands of African learners in need.