Tsehai Publishers Strives for a Better Africa and Ethiopia

Tsehai Publishers was founded by Elias Wondimu and focuses on printing scarcely distributed books from Ethiopia. (Photo via Tsehai Publishers)

The Los Angeles Loyolan

By Kaitlin Perata

“When you think of Africa, what are the first three things that come to mind?” This is the first question I was asked when I began working at Tsehai Publishers at the beginning of the semester. Like I’m sure most of us would, I had trouble coming up with a sufficient answer to the question. It is for precisely this reason that Elias Wondimu, exiled Ethiopian journalist and current CEO of Tsehai Publishers, founded the company.

Finding few books on Ethiopia in the United States, Wondimu sought to fill a hole in the American book market by venturing into previously unchartered waters and creating his own publishing company that would simultaneously print scarcely distributed books and raise the standard of integrity in the publishing industry.

“The lack of positive narratives about my country led me to a path of discovery about the realities of all marginalized societies – including Africa, women and the poor among us. Institutions who control what stories get told controls our true information that we consume, our perceptions and by that our future society,” Wandimu said when discussing his motivation for launching Tsehai.

Tsehai means “the sun” in Amharic, Ethiopia’s official language, but Wondimu also named the publishing company after his late mother. The company was founded in 1998 with the intention of sharing his passion for Ethiopian and African issues, correcting media misinformation and bias about Africa, fostering intercultural dialogue and social justice and providing a platform for African creativity and knowledge to flourish. In 2007, Tsehai joined forces with LMU’s Marymount Institute for Faith, Culture and the Arts and from that partnership the Marymount Institute Press was born, embodying the Institute’s mission statement.

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