Writings of the general word's body

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

On Winona Rasheed and that 'Africa-country' gaffe

From Bruce Cook of Author-Me.Com on the Winona Rasheed post

Hello everyone,

I just learned about this blog, and I want to speak in Winona's behalf.

As publisher of author-me.com, I am the one who should claim primary responsibility for failing to notice the error cited - referring to Africa as a country. I agree that this is quite serious, although I imagine that similar errors occur with many who have not had the opportunity to visit a distant country.

As soon as I can, I will re-issue the books with corrections to the foreword. Regretfully, with a book, the issues already sold will contain the error.

Please permit me to speak in Winona's behalf here, for I read your blog as an unfair personal bashing of her, with complete failure to recognize her work. She has worked for author-me.com for over 4 years and has freely (no compensation) devoted at least 20 hours a week to helping African writers and managing an international crew of editors. I believe that judging her person by this one error is unfair.

I do not mean to minimize the importance of the error, for ignorance of Africa and its situation is so prevalent in the USA that it distresses anyone who cares. When I listen to the news, I can count on hearing about Africa only when the most grievous events happen. And, as a result, our idiom is full of erroneous references to Africa. However, there is no excuse for author-me to perpetuate these errors, and we can only apologize for our mistake.

If you will, please give Winona the credit she deserves for working so hard in behalf of African writers, who deserve to have much greater opportunities in the literary world.

Thank you for your consideration.

Bruce Cook,
PublisherAuthor-me.
comcookcomm@gte.net

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Wordsbody Responds
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Thank you for this, Mr. Cook.
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However, your comment that my blog post was "an unfair personal bashing" of Winona Rasheed, is a view I cannot share.
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I do not know Winona Rasheed. I did not attack her in any capacity as regards her personal life or character. I attacked her in her capacity as editor of the 'Africa' anthologies published by Author-Me.Com.
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You ask that we give Ms Rasheed "the credit she deserves for working so hard on behalf of African writers". You add also, that your Africa editor has devoted 20 hours a week to this task for 4 years with no compensation. Worthy indeed. But you may be surprised how many out there work for the same goals with no compensation or recognition, African and non-African. Winona Rasheed is not alone therefore. None of this means that we overlook that which should not be overlooked.
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I welcome your statement, which sets out an acceptable way forward on this matter.
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Wordsbody.
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Winona Rasheed, in her own words
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This message is being sent in regards to your blog on African writings and literature. This is my first experience with your blog, and it has been bought to my attention that I made an error in a work done by me representing the fiction of African writers.
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My name is Winona Rasheed, and I am asking that you please except my sincere apology in referring to Africa as a country instead of the continent that it is. This anthology of African writers will be revised so that it refers to Africa as a continent.
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It was not my intentions to offend anyone with my mention of Africa. Author Africa 2007 and 2008, are a reflection of the works by some of our talented writers that we have on our website, www.author-me.com, authors who are inspiring and of whom we are very proud.
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Regardless of the error, country versus continent, it does not take away from our writers, or any human being who has literary talent. That's what we are promoting in these two anthologies, not the question of Africa being as a country or a continent.
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Does this error take away from me as the managing editor who compiled this collection of short stories? I believe it does not because the anthologies are not about me, it is the writers that they are showcasing. These books aren't about Winona Rasheed. These books even with the error in Africa's description, are about the heart of Africa and its people. It is about the talented artist who are making a name for themselves; and yes, I am proud to be able to help them accomplish this goal.
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It is true, I made a mistake, but let the fact be known that no one is perfect...no one except God, and I do not claim to be better than he. For these anthologies, the best intentions were given, and I shall continue to give my best in compiling anthologies for African writers in the future; not because I have to, but because I want to, because it is a pleasure to work with such talent.
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It is also true that in the minds of most people, Africa has been looked upon as a land of great promise, although it is also a land of suffering and war, famine and disease. However, we know that there is more to Africa then these atrocities. In compiling the anthologies, Author-me and Winona Rasheed are showing another side of Africa that most people do not get a chance to see, and that side is talent growing out of adversity, talent growing out of struggle. Would anyone say that Africa is a nation without conflict and turmoil? Is everything paradise and peaches and cream?
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Africa has some beautiful and talented people and it shows on Author-me, and it shows within the pages of the anthologies, regardless of the mistake that is in the "foreward" message. The heart of the book is its content, and that to me is more important because that is where and when Africa speaks and can be seen. I do not make Africa shine, it is the writers who do that. I have not shortchanged them. However, your comments and bashing do not put the anthologies in a good light. Are you hurting me? No! You are hurting those whose works are being shown in the anthologies, because you aren't letting readers get past the first page with your negative response to the "foreward." I know this message is important in a book; however, it is the pages that follow which bring the greatest importance, and you and your readers have failed to mention that important factor. Remember, it is not the "foreward" that makes up an anthology, it is the artist and their content that make a book a treasure and the 2007 and 2008 Author Africa anthologies are without a doubt........a treasure.
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Again, please except my sincere apology for my mistake in the description of Africa.
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Sincerely,
Winona Rasheed
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Blogger's Note
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I never sought an apology, nor do I consider it my place to receive one. Still, one recognises the spirit of Ms Rasheed's communication. I note that Africa is down as a 'nation' here again, but we won't dwell on that.
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Wishing Ms Rasheed the best in all her endeavours.

5 comments:

Waffarian said...

I think it is indeed refreshing to see an apology. It was a mistake and it should be corrected. I do not think that this takes away anything from the writers featured in the anthology. Yes, a book is not about the "foreword" or "foreward"(what was that all about anyway?) but as a reader, that first page would have irritated the hell out of me. I think its a good thing that the grave mistake is going to be corrected.

Anyway, I accept your apology, I see that Wordsbody is too humble to accept it. On behalf of all African readers, I accept your apology and look "forward" to seeing the corrections in the "re-issue" of the books.

Thank you for your dedication in helping African writers, we are all aware of the beauty and misery that is our "continent".

Renegade Eye said...

I think you handled this issue well.

When Africa was referred to as a nation, it was like a cruel joke. Nothing you said sank in.

I was at an antiwar meeting last week. An Iranian was referred to as an Arab.

Amias said...

The thing I like most about this post is how the situation was handled --- an error was made, an accusation were made, a voice of reason was heard, an apology was given --- and it was all done in good taste and very respectful.

You see Lady Wordsbody, I was right about you --- you are young and wise.

N.D said...

To Author-Me and Winona Rasheed,

I find it difficult to digest this: 'We are working hard to give African writers a voice and you are attacking us' argument. You are working hard for African writers and so we should be so grateful and not point out an untenable mistake in a literary anthology? Commitment to African writing means that you are accountable for your work in that regard. You were held accountable here. I don't see how that amounts to an attack on you or the writers featured in the anthology. As for those writers, how come none of them appears to have spotted the mistakes 2 years in a row? Or were they just being 'grateful' ?

sokari said...

I find it incredible that in 2008 anyone but in particular someone who is editing a book on African writers could make such an error.