Books for Africa held its annual gala this week, and representatives from Thomson Reuters were on hand to celebrate the annual event.

Books For Africa is the largest shipper of books to the African continent. In fact, over the last 12 months alone, the organization has shipped more than 2.6 million books to countries throughout Africa, including computers, e-books and other educational materials.

A proud supporter of the organization, Thomson Reuters has partnered with the Books for Africa Jack Mason Law and Democracy Initiative to donate more than 74 law libraries and educational resources to governments, universities and non-profit organizations across Africa since 2008. In fact, support of the program is a key initiative in Thomson Reuters support for the global rule of law.

Sharon Sayles Belton, vice president, Government Affairs and Community Relations, addressed the crowd and introduced the keynote speaker Her Excellency Ambassador Oliver Wonekha, Ambassador of Uganda to the United States.

“Books for Africa speaks so loudly,” she said. “I’ve been [in the U.S.] for two years now – I’ve never lived off the continent of Africa before – and I see literally everybody, old, young, babies, either with an iPhone, iPad…and I know they are advanced technology. But to both children and adults in Africa a book is still so important, and yet, not easily accessible to everyone who would like to have one. The children who are in school, in Uganda for example…where are the books? They aren’t there.”

Ambassador Wonekha and the other assembled speakers made a humble appeal to those in attendance that while Books for Africa and other similar programs are making an impact, more needs to be done to give the people of Africa the tools they need to become independent and turn away from violence, or worse, extremism. In fact, Donald Teitelbaum, deputy assistant secretary for East African Affairs, noted that a children’s book about ducks is perhaps a better ambassador for the children of Africa than he could be.

It was this idea that Ambassador Wonekha hit upon several times to encourage the support of those in attendance, bluntly adding, “When I was learning teaching methods in a third world country, and teaching science, we didn’t have a laboratory…and I was taught if you don’t have the real apparatus that you need, you improvise. Can I hear from this room how you improvise [without] a book?”


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