Ghanaian publisher, Becky Ayebia Clark has been awarded an MBE on the Queen’s New Year Honours List in the UK for services to the UK publishing industry.
Clarke who is fondly known as Nana Ayebia in her homeland Ghana, is currently based in Oxfordshire. In 2003 she set up Ayebia Clarke Literary Agency & Publishing Ltd. with her husband David. She immigrated to the UK in 1974.
She was the editor at Heinemann’s African & Caribbean Writers Series based at Oxford for 12 years until 2002 when the imprint stopped publishing new titles. She spearheaded the publication and promotion of dozens of outstanding writers from Africa and the Caribbean, including Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Ama Ata Aidoo, Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart) and Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia Shall be Free).
Over the years, Becky Ayebia Clark’s love for literature and her commitment to supporting writers from the African continent and the African-Caribbean Diaspora has never been in doubt. She founded Ayebia Clarke Publishing as a way of filling the gap left by the cessation of new acquisitions in Heinemann’s African and Caribbean Writers’ Series. Since then she has helped to bring numerous talented writers to a wider audience at a time when it was (and continues to be) extremely difficult to attract the attention of international publishers.
Ayebia Clarke Publishing is currently hailed as one of the leading publishers of quality African and Caribbean literature from both established and new authors. It has access to distribution channels in the UK, Africa, Europe and the USA and has established networking ties with a number of organisations dedicated to African and Caribbean literature studies. Ayebia places emphasis on targeting educational institutions internationally. Its aim is get a diverse range of books for different levels of readership unto academic reading lists primarily in Africa and other developing countries, as well as the UK, Europe, the USA and the rest of the world.
Commenting on news of her MBE award, Clark said: “I am deeply honoured and humbled by this award. In spite of colonialism and all its negative legacies, this is a public recognition of the work Ayebia has been engaged in since 2003. It is an acknowledgement of the huge contributions Africans in the Diaspora are making to world knowledge.”
She dedicated the award to “all Ghanaians (especially our writers, teachers and academics) and other Africans, and to my family for their unwavering support and belief in me.” She added, “It is proof (if proof were needed) that Africans are capable of engineering and managing their own institutions to the highest international standards.”
In 2009 Ayebia Clark Publishing won the award for Best Creative Business at the UK-based PRECIOUS Awards in recognition of the business’s outstanding efforts within the publishing industry. The PRECIOUS Awards is an annual awards ceremony dedicated to honouring inspirational and entrepreneurial women of colour.
Earlier this year, Ayebia announced plans to publish two new Caribbean titles from new authors who, according to the publisher, “will be bringing fresh thinking and new insights into Caribbean life, history, writing and culture.”