for ISKCON News on Aug. 19, 2011
Africa is the second-largest continent in the world. It has fifty-three countries, 2,000 languages, and a population of over 900 million. Yet with the South African BBT publishing books mainly in English, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust has only touched the tip of Africa’s potential. Until now.
The brand-new African BBT was born at the BBT meetings in February 2010, when international trustees resolved to focus on translations into African languages, as well as to promote greater distribution of French and English books.
Their inspiration dates back to Brahmananda Dasa’s original attempt at preaching in Africa in 1971. Although he had had good success in reaching the Indian community, Srila Prabhupada told him to focus more on the indigenous people. “It is an African country,” he said. “We should be preaching to them.”
February 2011: 2nd Annual BBT Africa Book Conference
Held at the Dr. Miriam Makeba Con- cert Hall in Pretoria, South Africa, the BBT conference hosted numerous del- egates from across Africa. The conference reviewed the work of BBT Africa thus far and highlighted the importance of producing African- language books.
March 2011: Strength in Numbers
Under the direction of HH Jayadvaita Swami and HG Govardhana Dasa, BBT Africa has departments in place to focus on translation and editing, design, IT, finance, marketing, and strate- gic planning.
April 2011: BBT Africa on the Ground
BBT Africa purchased an enchanting property which now serves as the main headquarters from which the African division operates. Bhakti Chaitanya Swami and Jayadvaita Swami inaugurated the opening cere- mony and emphasized the urgency of printing books in all African languages. Shortly thereafter, at the Durban Ratha Yatra festival, BBT Africa re- leased Beyond Birth and Death in isi-Zulu, the most widely spoken native language in South Africa. The book was translated by Akhanda Kirtana Dasa, who is running an active preaching center in Umlazi, Durban. Ten thousand copies have been printed.
Fortnightly BBT operations meetings are convened at the BBT house in Tenneyson Avenue, Johannesburg, to accelerate the translation and publication of African- language books.
May 2011: First book in isiXhosa
BBT Africa's next book will be Beyond Birth and Death in isiXhosa, the language of near- ly 8 million people, mainly in South Africa. The book has been translated by Tota Gopinatha Dasa. The print run will be five thousand copies.
June 2011: Sastra Dana Moves beyond South African Borders
Bh. Hemant and Aditi Mataji (the Sastra Dana team) who focus on distribution of books in the education sector, delivered sets of books to Swaziland and initiated discussions with Botswana on supplying their national libraries with a collection of Srila Prabhupada’s literary works. The South African National Council endorses the program as a national priority program.