Tsehai Publishers was established with the sincere desire to make a difference in the world through curated information and knowledge production. Through our works we aim to fill the void in today’s marketplace. We hope to make a substantial difference by bringing current issues and missing historical links to the forefront of modern thought around the globe. While striving to produce the highest quality knowledge products, we also provide a forum for first time authors and those who come from an under-served community of writers. Wanting our literature to be available to all, we work to market our books at affordable prices, making sure that no one is ever held back from the illumination of knowledge.
Tsehai Publishers was founded in 1998 by Elias Wondimu, an Ethiopian exiled journalist. In September 1994, he left his country to participate the Twelfth International Ethiopian Studies conference at Michigan State University in East Lansing, but his three weeks travel became indefinite. Later that year, he joined the Ethiopian Review magazine in Los Angeles, serving as managing editor for the next six years. In these years, he worked with many scholars, political activists and public intellectuals on issues of local and global interest.
Passionate about Ethiopian and African issues, Wondimu saw a void in the American book market. Books on Ethiopia were few and scattered among various publishers, and some among those books that were available in the market were spreading poisonous seeds of ignorance and hatred. He found that he had questions for which the current literature had no answers, and the ones that did were out of print. Frustrated of waiting for change in the publishing world, and not wanting another generation to experience the same troubles, Wondimu decided to take matters into his own hands. He determined to publish books that would heal not kill, and restore the state of the publishing industry.
In 1997 he founded Tsehai, meaning “the sun,” named after and dedicated to his mother who had passed away the same year. Building the publishing house, he saw Tsehai not as an end but as a means so that knowledge would be accessible to new generations of readers. In 1998, the first book was published, and from 1998–2001 Wondimu focused on distributing scarce books that were not readily available in the market. In 2000 he joined UCLA as assistant editor of an academic journal. Through this position, he discovered the pressing need to give a platform to a community of minority scholars, giving them a venue and circulating their scholarship among the general population.
In 2001, Wondimu left his job and began running Tsehai full time. Since then Tsehai has published over 100 books, started academic journals, which are now available in JSTOR and founded four imprints. In 2002, Heinemann, the leading publisher of African literature, ceased to publish its famous ‘African Writers Series’. In a time when the publishing industry was consolidating, Tsehai stepped up to fill this void in a very small way through its African Academic Press imprint. In 2005, Tsehai was named one of the leading publishing entities in Los Angeles by LA Weekly newspaper, one of the largest circulated newspapers west of the Mississippi. Later, in 2007, Tsehai joined the Marymount Institute and relocated to Loyola Marymount University, where it co-founded the Marymount Institute Press as its imprint.
Going forward, Wondimu still retains his original passion, and aim to produce knowledge relevant to our society and for the next generation, and Tsehai continually works to reflect that genuine desire. Through its books, journals and imprints, Tsehai endeavors to encourage the acquisition and equitable distribution of knowledge, to do justice to the diversity of information that we consume, and to bring quality to the publishing industry for many generations to come.
What Makes Us Unique
Tsehai Publishers is proud to be one of the few publishing companies dedicated to African literature. Unwilling to become just another corporation, only concerned with the bottom line of profit, we remain a small, independent group of dedicated team members.
For us, the reader is more than just a number. We appreciate everyone that purchases one of our books, and truly want to see each reader glean all the richness of information that we have to offer.
Tsehai deals with a broad range of topics and issues across the ocean, across the river, and across the street. As much as we are concerned about the African continent, we are also dedicated to shedding light on the salient issues that matter to people in nearby nations across the river as well as right here at home.
Our unfailing commitment to social justice in the world around us lets us produce specialized books and journals that otherwise might never be seen in print. Our organization gives a voice to those deserving writers who would go unheard. Unlike the many other publishers, we take a real, personal interest in each book that we publish, and have a passionate concern for every issue that is addressed.
Here at Tsehai, we don’t just produce books; we produce knowledge that nourishes the mind. The books that we produce are the building blocks to a just world. We are determined to give young people the opportunity to learn through experience, and explore their potential. The aim of our organization and the material we produce is to pass on the tradition of books and learning to the next generation, and to continue the wonderful tradition of knowledge and learning in service to society.