Emmanuel Todd, GNA
Accra, Aug. 31 GNA - Mrs Rebecca Akuffo-Addo, First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, has called on book illustrators to build on the foundations laid by Meshack Asare, a Ghanaian author and illustrator.
"I am most delighted to know that the Ghanaian author and illustrator Mr Meshack Asare has been producing world class children's books. His books have travelled far and wide, translated into many languages and won many prizes," she said.
The First Lady said it is encouraging to see African writers and illustrators produce works which are culturally relevant and meet international standards.
She said this in a speech delivered on her behalf by Mrs Barbara Oteng Gyasi, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Arts, during the IBBY Ghana Meshack Asare Prize which has been instituted in honour of Meshack Asare.
The event held in Accra on Friday was under the theme: "The importance of illustrations in children's books and part of the 5th IBBY Africa Regional Conference hosted by IBBY Ghana.
Mrs Akuffo-Addo said children were quite literal in their interpretation of text and illustrations are key to aid them learn at that early stage of their academic life.
"For them the feet must be clearly visible at end of the legs; hands must have five fingers and so on", she said, hence the need to work harder to create world class picture books for the entire nation.
Mr Shi Ting Wang, the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, said Mr Asare's works were also popular among Chinese children and amongst them was "Sosu's Call" which had always been a best-selling.
He said children were the future of Africa and to liberate the continent from the shackles of poverty, children's education was the way to go.
Mr Wang said China was ready to lead by example in partnership with the international community to create a better future for the African child.
He said that the Zhang Mingzhou, IBBY President, said children's literature is the basis for building a community of common destiny for mankind, promoting the development of children's literature in all countries to higher standards and letting children have access to high-quality books from an early age.
"We shall work together to build a community of common destiny for mankind, and lead mankind to a better future," Mr Mingzhou said.
He said the embassy would play an active role and serve as a bridge and link to promote cultural, educational exchanges and cooperation China and Africa as well as children's books to solidify the relationship between China and Africa.
Mr Meshack Asare said one of his best quotes over the years is: "as for us we will store our treasures in the hearts of men", adding that this applies to everyone who was committed to help children and the world at large.
He said his entire effort is to meet the goal of trying to store their treasures, talents, visions and imaginations in the hearts of men.
"Whatever we have got and all of our resources- we are storing them in the hearts of children," he said.
Mr Edmund Opare, an illustrator and the winner of the first IBBYGhana Meshack Asare Prize, said it was a great feeling having emerged as the winner of this highly contested prize adding that this award would give hope to the younger generation in the publishing industry.
He said Ghana has the potential to do what was being done by other nations across the globe and it is important the government together with stakeholders came in to help grow the industry so that books and other material which are printed overseas could be done in the country.
The winner had also worked on books such "Mimi's Mystery", Mama's Cover cloth, Baobao Tree and the award winning illustration "City Sounds”.
Professor Esi Sutherland Addy, the Chairperson for the occasion, commended the winner of the Prize for his hard work and urged the youth to develop the taste for quality work and work hard.
Madam Akoss Ofori-Mensah, President, IBBY Ghana, also presented and decorated the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana Mr Shi Ting Wang with a "Kente" cloth.