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Publishing and Effects on Global South - Kenya's National Development.

Autor:   •  March 8, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,161 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,339 Views

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This paper discusses the place of scholarly publishing in Kenya's national development. It is argued that lack of information production, through scholarly publishing, drags the overall process of national development.

We are living in a world where production and distribution of knowledge is more skewed than distribution of wealth (Cetto, 1999). The world has entered an age known as the Knowledge society. In this era, harnessing the power of information and knowledge has never before been so crucial. Adebowale (2001) compares this era with a CNN advert that says, "You are what you know". If this is the case, we cannot ignore any factor that may undermine or promote publishing in Africa.

Africa is the second largest continent, with over 900 million people. This figure comprises about 15% of the world's population (Essen, 2007). This being the case, it is expected that the continent should be a world leader in global scholarship in terms of scholarly publications. Unfortunately, the continent produces around 1.5% of the total number of world books. Worse still is the fact that this figure is the effort of around 7 out of 52 African countries. 75% of scholarly publishing in Africa is concentrated in 7 countries while the rest 42 countries account for 25% of scholarly publishing in the continent (Esseh, ibid).

The marginalisation of Africa as far as scholarly publishing is concerned can best be described by comparing publication in African countries with the Northern countries. In 1995, for example, Norway, with a population of 4.5 million inhabitants published 7,265 titles while South Africa with more than 42m inhabitants published 5,418 titles. Nigeria, with a population of about 140 m people published 1,314 titles (Bgoya, 2005).

At independence, Kenya's publishing industry was dominated by multinational publishers. The content of these publications was foreign and the readers had little to identify with the content. Karimi (2008) notes that books that dominated publishing houses at that time had titles such as Snow white, little white dwarfs, Falling from the London Bridge among others.

In 1966, the government set up the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation, an indigenous publishing house. The aim of setting up this house was to aid cultural development by producing content that was African by nature. Since then, indigenous publishing houses have sprout. Between 1977-1997, the number of publishing houses in Kenya increased by 60%, of which 95% were indigenous by nature (Makotsi and Nyariki, 1997). Kenya, therefore, does not have scarcity of publishing houses (Ogechi and Ogechi 2002).

But what are indigenous publishers publishing? According to Karimi (ibid), 95% of all publications in Kenya are school textbooks. Kenyan publishers are not engaging in general publications. Textbook publishing may play a large role in intellectual development but

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