Merry Christmas to you and your families.

On behalf of the Africa World Books organisation, allies, and friends, I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

May 2022 brings blessings, prosperity, excellent health, and peace worldwide – especially in South Sudan.

I want to acknowledge all the authors who devote their time and effort and resources to making books available to the people of South Sudan scattered worldwide.

You are courageous, generous, and truly eminent scholars who will be remembered, appreciated, and celebrated by future generations.

You have adapted to the current circumstances and are willing to write books without receiving immediate reward. Your significant contributions will shine like a light forever visible, unlike those who choose not to write their memoirs. Future generations will undoubtedly appreciate your immense contributions to the literature of Africa and the world.

Brilliant, dedicated authors, I want to inform you that the past two years have been challenging for this industry because of COVID-19. Africa World Books has concentrated on distributing books through social media and selling through friends. Despite these efforts, there has been no improvement in our circumstances. We are, however, still committed to the mission and vision of preserving and disseminating information on an international level.

When I founded Africa World Books, I was aware of the challenges ahead and was ready to face them, as I knew realising a vision is always costly. I did not establish Africa World Books to get rich quickly – if that were the case, I would have already given up. I aimed to provide a service to history, which is a purpose shared by many authors. I thank you, dedicated authors, for your wholehearted support and understanding. I thank Douglas Johnson for his support and Halle Jorn Hanssen for donating the royalties of their books to support Africa World Books.

The company continues to pay for editing services and has submitted a good number of manuscripts. I congratulate potential authors for choosing this new publishing house for their books. Remember, Africa World Books acts in your interests and no publishing business can produce books for their authors without upfront payment.

As a genuine, local South Sudanese company, Africa World Books holds our country in its heart. Between December 2020 and December 2021, we shipped 4,600 books, towards which the company paid 90% of costs to bring reading material to the people and authors and to help eradicate illiteracy in our country. Due to a lack of reading culture amongst our people, those books are still unsold and in the possession of authors in Juba, South Sudan and Nairobi, Kenya. Authors tried to launch their books, but attendance was poor; no one seemed to be interested in books. Blackstone Bookshop, owned by an author at Juba University in South Sudan, suffered the same experience. I acknowledged the National Dialogue Secretariat for allowing Africa World Books to supply books to delegates. This trust was more valuable than the money because support for our country’s own initiatives will help improve our private sector.

I realise that there is a long way to go. The National Dialogue team distributed 1,000 free copies of ‘THE NATIONAL DIALOGUE: A Framework for Sustainable Peace, Economic Growth, and Poverty Eradication in South Sudan’ by Dr. Lual A. Deng and 500 copies of ‘Assuring the Future of South Sudan: Coherent Government and Sustainable Livelihoods’ by Daniel Bromley, Lual A. Deng and Santino Ayuel Longar. These books were quickly taken, indicating that there is demand, but because of the country’s financial crisis, people cannot afford to buy books. An additional 200 copies of ‘The National Dialogue’ and 40 copies of ‘Assuring the Future of South Sudan’ were sent for sale, but unfortunately, copies are still available in Nairobi and Juba. Most people prefer borrowing books rather than buying them, even here in Australia.

This task would have been unbearable without moral support from authors, friends, and mentors. Operating costs are incredibly high, and low sales constantly create pressure and raise questions as to why we continue publishing. Nonetheless, the primary aim of Africa World Books remains to record and save the history that is at risk of being lost.

Africa World Books will maintain its stated mission of meeting publication associated costs to recover expenses from future sales of books.

Africa World Books paid for editing, designing, proofreading and other expenditures, yet sales were inadequate, and the business cannot recover its investments in these products.

Africa World Books is optimistic that the reading culture of the South Sudanese, as well as the company’s finances, will improve. I thank all the technicians and editors, authors and friends, who continue to help us. Their checking on us by email and telephone has been very important.

If you do not receive reports, it means either there are no sales, or the company is still recovering expenses for publishing the books and supplying you with copies through the Jumpstart initiative. Will you help to promote these books through your network?

I thank our friends who continue to circulate books in Juba and Nairobi, and special thanks to the South Sudan musicians who have dedicated songs to the authors and the company – another way of bringing this work to the attention of the public. There is no easy way to liberate our people from illiteracy and strictly oral culture. It will take all of us to keep history alive so the next generation can appreciate those great people who came before them. Traditionally, our people composed songs praising military generals, chiefs, bulls and girls, but the authors deserve praise for their efforts and generosity in preserving rare stories and enriching our literature.

Period: 01 Oct 2021–31 Oct 2021

· UK: 9 copies sold

· US: 17 copies sold

· eBooks: 2 copies sold

· Global sales: Italy 5, India 2, Spain 2, Germany 2 copies sold

· Australia: 5 copies sold

Period: 01 Nov 2021–30 Nov 2021

· UK: 13 copies sold

· USA: 19 copies sold

· Global sales: Italy 1, India 1, Germany 1 copy sold

· Australia: 4 copies sold

Listed sales were made online, although a few copies were sold directly through the Africa World Bookstore in Perth.

How do we pay for all the expenses?

I used personal savings and the help of a good friend to pay for some expenses a few years ago. We will put Jumpstart on hold until the situation improves in South Sudan, which will allow us to invest this money in publishing your books. Because of crises in the country, no return has yet been received by the authors or the company, so our management has suspended activity until conditions improve. This program is intended to support all authors in South Sudan, but Africa World Books cannot continue because of financial loss.

I have been away for 24 years, but I am present in spirit, doing what Dr. John Garang describes as ‘taking services to the rural people.’ I do this for the love of the people and their country and to preserve the history for future generations. Veterans are aging without their memoirs being written, so their rare stories are at risk of being lost. We have been looking for sponsors to pay for books to be donated to elderly people in South Sudan to encourage them to write their memoirs and promote their reading culture. I have contacted some friends who will buy copies to be sent to the Kakuma Refugee Camp teachers’ resource centre next year.

Prof. Richard Vokes from the University of Western Australia will be starting a program called ‘South Sudan Stories’ that interviews authors and Dr. Douglas Johnson will be happy to participate. A podcast room has been offered to help host the authors and encourage awareness. We will be hosting authors and those who read books and want to share reviews through StreamYard. If international borders open, we will also try to invite authors to visit Australia as this may help in further engaging the community.

Africa World Books Community Education is fortunate to have published books by young authors aged between 9 and 14 years. Their families are grateful, and these children are happy.

I thank you for trusting me and the Africa World Books team. I am no better than any other South Sudanese, but I have chosen to serve my people and the nation in this way and at this time. Peter Deng

Founder, Africa World Books

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