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SOAS hosts London launch for children’s book combating corruption in Liberia

5 December 2013

In recognition of International Anti-corruption Day on Monday 9 December, the Centre of African Studies at SOAS, University of London, will host the London book launch for the anti-corruption primer for children, Gbagba, written by Development Studies PhD student Robtel Neajai Pailey.

Gbagba follows a few days in the life of Liberian twins, Sundaymah and Sundaygar, who leave their hometown of Buchanan to visit their aunt in Monrovia, Liberia's capital. Previously launched in Monrovia and Washington, D.C. Gbagba explores issues of integrity, accountability, and corruption through a beautifully illustrated children’s narrative. It was published by One Moore Book, LLC, a niche New York publisher, and illustrated by Chase Walker, a Liberian graphic artist.

Liberian-born Pailey was inspired to address this issue of corruption after working with young people as head of a Liberian government scholarships committee. Pailey had the idea of a book addressing corruption specifically for children, which came to fruition through a colleague working in book publishing.

Pailey said: “There seems to be a gap in the fight against corruption — in Liberia and elsewhere — and I was really interested to explore how corruption affects children, and how they might interpret and question the confusing ethical codes of the adults around them.  

“Children have a way of making adults feel embarrassed through their innocence — when they question established norms they highlight why things need to be done differently.”

With Gbagba, Pailey also aims to help increase literacy and introduce the book into the school curriculum in Liberia. So far it has been well received by the Ministry of Education, which was already hugely supportive of Pailey due to her earlier campaign to make Liberia’s international scholarships system merit-based, transparent and gender-balanced.

From the age of 15, Pailey has won scholarships to attend high school and universities in the US and UK. She was recently listed in the world’s top ’99 under 33’ influential foreign policy leaders by US global affairs magazine Diplomatic Courier and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, an organisation helping to foster the next generation of foreign policy leaders. Pailey is currently completing her PhD at SOAS as a Mo Ibrahim Foundation scholar.

The book launch will take place on Monday 9 December at 5.30pm in College Buildings, SOAS. The event is free and no booking is required. Visit the SOAS website for more information.