More than 70 Christian magazine publishing professionals from nine French-speaking countries in Africa came to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, last month for an intensive seven-day Introduction to Magazine Publishing course offered by Magazine Training International (MTI) for the first time. The course was specifically for those interested in Christian publishing in Francophone Africa and included a brand-new 252-page course book in French.
Held at La Sablière in Bingerville, Abidjan, 15-21 September, 2019, in collaboration with the Centre de Publications Evangéliques (CPE), a Christian publisher in Abidjan, the conference was the second training event in MTI’s 10-year training program for Africa, which launched in Kenya in 2018.
The Introduction to Magazine Publishing course covered three primary emphases: the basics of magazine publishing, starting a magazine, and digital publishing. Each emphasis included magazine editing, design, and management topics taught by a team of six trainers from the U.S. and Kenya, all experienced magazine editors, designers, or publishers.
Participants responded to the course with enthusiasm, attending the optional evening sessions and staying late into the night for consulting sessions.
“They were eager to learn,” said Carla Foote, an editing trainer and MTI board member. “On the first day, when we had a question and answer time after a couple of presentations, many hands went up. They had questions about everything and wanted to understand the whole process of magazine publishing.
“After answering a number of questions, I told them we would get to the other principles in the following days,” she said. “It was only Monday; we had the rest of the week to build on the foundation. Their eagerness to learn and make the most of the training opportunity inspired me as a trainer.”
Trainer Francis Ayieko, publisher of The Shepherd newspaper in Kenya, agreed. “The Introduction to Magazine Publishing conference was a major boost to Christian magazine publishing in Africa,” he said. “It showed just how much MTI work is needed on this continent with very few established Christian publications. The enthusiasm with which the participants embraced the conference shows that such training is badly needed in Africa.”
Participants came from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Gabon, Guinea, Kenya, and the Republic of Congo. They included publishers, editors, and designers of existing magazines, as well as those who are considering starting a magazine.
“I had journalism training, but it was difficult to practice,” said one conference participant. “But now, with this training, it will be easy to work on the magazine I have been planning for seven years.”
Another participant said, “This training was great for me because it will permit me to effectively launch my magazine. Now I have all the tricks necessary to put out a professional magazine.” He expressed thanks “…to all, from near and far, who contributed to the success of this great historical event for me.”
Design trainers included Anne Elhajoui, graphic designer for Southeastern Guide Dogs, and founder of AEIOU Design, and James Njoroge, designer of Timazi magazine in Kenya. David Renard, a partner with mediaIDEAS, and Francis Ayieko, founder and publisher of The Shepherd newspaper, taught the magazine management sessions. Carla Foote, editor of Disciple! and One-to-One for the Navigators ministry, and Esther Nyaga, publishing manager of Publishing Institute of Africa, and editor of Leadership Today Africa, led the sessions on magazine editing.
In 2022, MTI will build on the 2018 Kenya training program with another English-language conference, this time in Ghana.
“We need to continue the English-language training, but we are considering how we can further develop the French-language training,” said MTI President Sharon Mumper. “I’m encouraged by the enthusiasm of the participants. I hope the course book will serve as a valuable reference tool for those who took the course.
“Many of the participants expressed a desire to start a magazine. This will be a challenge. I hope we can find ways to encourage them,” she said. “This conference will be only a first step–not the only step. We have developed a relationship with the participants and we want to see them succeed.”
by Jennifer Howard, communications director