Hardcopy & e-book: Enhance citizenship trough the circulation of books in Mozambique

By Jessemusse Cacinda

Book Fair by Ethale Publishing in the district of Manhiça, south of Mozambique  

The Indian economist Amartya Sen[1] defines democracy as governance through debate, that’s why it is necessary to improve the information availability and the feasibility of interactive discussions. According to him, democracy must be judged not only through the existing institutions but through how different voices can make themselves heard.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[2] “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

The freedom of opinion and expression implies having ideas and thoughts to be shared, and the existence of channels where the ideas and thoughts could be shared. The first implication refers to the importance of creating platforms to help people in developing critical thinking and the second implication refers to the importance of developing platforms to circulate ideas and information.

Ethale Publishing was created in Mozambique back in 2016 with the dual mission of 1) connect people and cultures through the circulation of their ideas and 2) give voice to the new Mozambican authors. More than 5 years later, Ethale became a platform of circulation of Mozambican and African ideas.

We have published about 30 titles of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, created a YouTube channels were intellectuals discuss their ideas on contemporary Mozambican and African issues, a podcast on soundcloud, and also created with other partners a Wikimedia incubator for contents in Makua language and in this year launched Ethale Books App, the first digital App for book distribution in Mozambique. These channels are important to the freedom of opinion and expression, because it helps to increase the circulation of ideas, critical thinking and creativity.

It is consensual that in Mozambique there is no culture of reading, or saying in other ways, it is an illiterate country if we consider the concept of Miguel Buendia[3] according to that "reading is not just master coding and decoding skills, but use the knowledge to social and political practice".

However, bearing in mind that reading is essential to mobilize people to defend human rights, we decided also to move our activity into education for reading activism. We launched at the end of last year the “reading in the holidays” competition that mobilized students across the country who was invited to share their ideas about the books they read. We are now organizing the next edition of the competition, but also inspiring students across the country to read.

(Tomé Muhira (left) the winner of the first edition of the competition “ler nas férias” receiving his giant check from Ethale MD)

These inspiration activities are taking place in the cities and villages of the country and include book fairs, inspirational speeches by writers, book launches and public readings. In all events we expose books in hardcopy and we also present our Ethale Books App live on google play store, offering the participants different possibilities to access information and knowledge which will allow them to create opinions and participate actively in the socioeconomic environment.

So it is important to note that all that we are doing is a question of human rights because through publishing and reading activism we allow people to access to information, freedom of expression and opinion and also, freedom of creation.


Jessemusse Cacinda is a Mozambican fictional writer, philosopher, journalist and project manager. He is the co-founder and managing director of Ethale Publishing and also a lecturer at Joaquim Chissano University in Maputo. He worked for Rádio Moçambique in Nampula, his home town and also worked for SEKELEKANI, an organization that uses communication in defence of human rights in Mozambique's rural communities. He is the author of the book “Pensar Africa'', authored two anthologies gathering young Mozambican writers and several stories, articles and book chapters. 

[1] Sen, A (2011). A ideia de justiça. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras.

[2] Article 19

[3] Miguel Buendía. Os desafios da Leitura. In Desafios para Moçambique 2010. IESE. Maputo.

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