Shoko Press was born out of three key values: a love of books, a desire to discover and share the exceptional talent of creative Africa by unearthing the stories that lie behind them, and a recognition for the need to help preserve these stories for future reference. Values that are summed up in our manifesto, and with regards to the latter we actively seek to make a reality, and create the best books about Africa.
Africa is a dynamic continent, one that is in the midst of an exciting outpouring of creativity from art to music, design to fashion, food to technology and so much more. And across the continent established and emerging creatives are seizing the day -exploring, inspiring, motivating and collaborating- and in the process are helping to shape the direction and perception of a continent undergoing transformation.
The digital revolution has had a major hand in developing Africa’s contemporary creativity, as these creatives take advantage of the opportunities to tell their stories themselves, from their perspectives. The relative ease of creating and sharing images, sounds and stories has enabled information to get into the hands of eager audiences quickly. But for all its many benefits digital also makes it easy to very quickly lose that same information as we follow never ending links that branch of in all sorts of directions. And more notably all it takes is for a creator to shut down their website, blog or social media account and in an instant a wealth of information is gone.
The digital revolution has had a major hand in developing Africa's contemporary creativity... Click To Tweet
We are not knocking digital; we wholly embrace it, reveling in the voyage of discovery it enables. Digital has made it possible for Shoko Press to exist, making information that could have otherwise taken years to gather accessible in a just few clicks, resulting in African books to inspire. And it is precisely because of all this information being created today that then becomes tomorrow’s history that we need to protect and preserve it. Creating some kind of more permanent archive, of which books are a part.
Books have an important role in the development of societies and cultures, where we have been, where we are now and where we are going, making books an important tool for a society to record its own version of its culture, cherished for the cultural value of the information held within their pages. Books educate and can be gateways to opportunities for both those being featured in their pages, those reading them and those writing them. Books help make places, people and subjects accessible, sparking ideas, motivating and encouraging further exploration. Granted the same can be said of the Internet, but in the digital age books – whether printed or digital – can focus our minds, help us to sift through and make sense of the constant stream of information coming at us, clamouring for our attention.
Books can help correct misconceptions, but it must be said can equally create them. Because as it has been said many times, if you don’t tell your own stories someone else will do it for you. And this has been the case with Africa. To date the bulk of books recording the happenings in creative Africa have largely been written by non-Africans, whose experiences will differ from that of those within the culture(s) being presented. And whilst we should not outright dismiss these perspectives as they help round out debate, open up new perspectives that we who are living with a culture may not be aware of, we as Africans have a greater responsibility to write and produce our own books about our own creativity, societies and cultures from our perspectives. In doing so we create our own more permanent records of our creative history to reflect on in our present and to inform our future generations.
...if you don't tell your own stories someone else will do it for you. Click To Tweet
And with so much creativity currently coming out of Africa and in the diaspora we, as Africans need to ensure we do all we can to help preserve it. We would love to hear your thoughts whether you agree wit us or not.
Shoko Press – Creative voices to discover, share and cherish
– Tapiwa Matsinde
[Image used under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license]