Jeune Afrique’s unimaginable journey instructed by the person who created it
The memoirs of the late Béchir Ben Yahmed, founder and writer of Jeune Afrique journal, have lately been revealed in French. The founding father of IC Publications, Afif Ben Yedder, who labored throughout his childhood with the now legendary writer, critiques J’assume.
My mentor, Béchir Ben Yahmed , the founding father of Jeune Afrique, a steady that dominated pan-African publishing in French, died from Covid final yr. He had simply completed engaged on his memoirs, which took him a few years to jot down. J’assume [“I assume”] is the title of the e book, now obtainable in French solely. Translations in English and Arabic must be within the making.
I used to be second in command throughout the first 10 years of the group in Paris. The journal shortly turned the voice of Africa throughout an period when the protection of Africa was nearly solely within the fingers of Western media who appeared on the continent from their perspective and pursuits.
Béchir was born in 1928 within the small island of Djerba , within the south of Tunisia. He walked barefoot till the age of 9 but he was to turned the youngest Minister in Habib Bourguiba’s first authorities following Tunisia’s independence.
BBY, as he was recognized , was a feared and admired journalist and writer. He skilled and formed dozens and dozens of authors, writers and journalists, a few of whom turned massively profitable.
His e book relates his difficulties as the pinnacle of a very powerful and most influential Pan-African publishing group of the Continent. The journal Jeune Afrique has been a necessary learn to know and perceive the historical past of the continent from the early sixties, when most African nations turned impartial, to its present state of affairs.
It covers political affairs, enterprise and tradition from an African perspective and defends the pursuits and the unity of the continent.
Completely impartial, the journal paid a heavy worth defending democratic and civic liberties. Jeune Afrique was banned throughout many lengthy years by autocratic African governments. Some even financed rivals to attempt to kill it, however all failed. Some tried to purchase it, but it surely was not on the market!
The e book is an interesting learn. BBY is a superb storyteller. He offers an perception in his encounters with the leaders of Africa and judges most of them severely. The one exception was Bourguiba, for whom he had the best admiration.
BBY doesn’t conceal his opinions and says frankly and actually what he thought. There are millions of anecdotes and examples, retracing with a human contact the historical past of the previous 60 years in Africa.
I don’t assume Béchir had ever loved having a correct vacation! He was a seven day workaholic, an avid reader, a prolific author (with a inexperienced ink pen). Week after week , in his column What I imagine in, he gave his feedback on what was occurring in Africa.
With hindsight, we will see that more often than not he was heading in the right direction of historical past. His battles had been at all times for the right causes.
As one who knew completely effectively each the person and his group, I might have preferred him to have talked extra concerning the pals who helped him when he wanted them most. I reproach him for not, as a mark of gratitude, mentioning some of people that performed a very large position in Jeune Afrique a technique or one other.
The e book additionally avoids some essential questions regarding the funding of the group and its shareholders. Nevertheless, on the identical time, BBY offers a prolonged clarification of among the monetary difficulties Jeune Afrique has at all times encountered.
Publishing in Africa has by no means been straightforward. It’s a miracle that the journal surmounted all its difficulties, as the percentages had been towards it. Over time, it misplaced an unimaginable amount of cash, including as much as many thousands and thousands of euros.
It was the willpower of 1 single man, BBY, which ultimately made it successful. Africa owes him so much. Thousands and thousands of Africans are and have been avid readers of Jeune Afrique. Technology after era, younger Africans contemplate their journal as their Bible. Many turned the leaders of their nations and performed an enormous position within the improvement of the continent.
Béchir needed to create a Basis to take over the journal. That proved to be inconceivable. It’s his sons who at the moment are safely on the helm. They’re combating a brand new battle because the publishing world is transferring from print to digital.
The story of Jeune Afrique can be my story. With Emena, my spouse, we spent among the greatest years of our lives, working days and nights with Béchir assisted with a bunch of passionate professionals, one of the best within the subject, dreaming about a greater future for our Africa.
Afif Ben Yedder is the founding father of IC publications, whose steady contains New African, African Enterprise and African Banker magazines in addition to IC Occasions, the convention arm.