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Guinea: Special Guest at the 2013 Turin International Book Fair

The 26th International Book Fair took place in Turin, capital of the Italian Piedmont region, between May 16 and May 20, 2013. The Francophone West African country of Guinea was the sole representative of the African continent to be invited as a special guest country. This news did not pass unnoticed in Conakry and on the Guinean blogosphere – both at home and abroad.

Maria from Babia gave her opinion of the Guinea exhibition stand on blog guineeconakry.info [fr]:

Pour marquer sa participation à ce Salon International du Livre de Turin, les Guinéens ont tablé sur l’organisation de conférences-débats avec les auteurs invités, l’exposition-ventes d’objets d’art  et les rencontres informelles avec les enfants, les jeunes et les personnes âgées. Par exemple, le caricaturiste Oscar Ben Barry  a pu croquer quelques invités en compagnie de petits italiens ; tandis que Tierno Monemebo et Salif Keïta, Justin Morel Junior et Cheick Oumar Kanté débattaient de l’avenir de la littérature guinéenne.

To mark its participation in the Turin International Book Fair, Guineans took part in the organisation of debates and conferences with guest authors, an art exhibition and sale, as well as informal meet-ups with children, young people and the eldery. For example, cartoonist Oscar Ben Barry sketched several guests together with Italian youngsters while Tierno Monemebo, Salif Keita, Justin Morel Junior and Cheick Oumar Kanté were debating the future of Guinean literature.

Amadou Tham Camara wrote on website guineenews.org [fr]:

Le stand exotique guinéen, très achalandé, a suscité beaucoup de curiosités. En marge des visites du stand, les auteurs Thierno Monenembo, Cheick Oumar Kanté et le sénégalais Pap Khouma ont animé dans l’après-midi une conférence sur la problématique de la culture orale et de la culture écrite en Afrique occidentale….

A la faveur de la crise économique et de son corollaire de délocalisation, la ville de Turin est en train de remplacer son industrie automobile par une industrie culturelle. A la Guinée, unique pays africain présent à ce salon du livre, de s’en inspirer pour mettre son industrie culturelle à la place de… rien.

The exotic Guinean exhibition stand was very busy and generated a lot of interest. As well as visiting the stand, Guinean authors Thierno Monenembo, Cheick Oumar Kanté and Pap Khouma from Senegal participated in an afternoon conference on the problems with oral and written culture in Western Africa [...]Due to the economic crisis and associated delocalisation, the city of Turin is in the process of replacing its car industry with cultural industries. Guinea, sole African nation present at this book fair, has been inspired by this to use its cultural industry to replace … nothing.

Here is a video showing Guinean Culture on display in Turin

Website laterzapagina.net covered [it] the presence of Guinea at the book fair and the hope that it would encourage the country to become next year’s ‘guest of honour.’:

La Guinea è ospite speciale del Salone 2013 e presenta la propria candidatura quale Ospite d’onore per il 2014.
Il progetto OnGuinea è curato dall’Associazione italo-guineana [Nakiri] in collaborazione con il Ministero della cultura e del patrimonio storico della Guinea, il Ministero degli affari esteri e dei Guineani all’estero e il Ministero del Turismo della Guinea.
Numerosi gli incontri con personalità guineane fra cui l’ex ministro dell’informazione e comunicazione Justin Morel Junior, scrittori, giornalisti, antropologi.
Fra i temi affrontati: la cultura orale, le guerre, la cultura come motore di sviluppo per l’Africa.
Letture, poesia e musica e sabato 18 alle 21, per il Salone Off, al Jazz Club di via Giolitti 30 concerto dei Ba Cissoko, uno dei gruppi musicali guineani più famosi nel mondo.

Guinea is the special guest of the 2013 Book Fair, and is applying to be 2014’s guest of honour.
The project On Guinea was started by the Italian-Guinean association together with the Ministry of Culture and Historical Patrimony of Guinea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Guineans Overseas and the Guinean Tourism Ministry.
There were many meetings with Guineans including the ex-Minster of Information and Communication, Justin Morel Junior, writers, journalists and anthropologists.
Among the topics covered: Oral culture, wars, culture as a driver of development for Africa.
There were lectures, poetry and music from Saturday 18th until the 21st, by Salone Off at the Jazz Club at Via Giolitti 30, a concert by group Ba Cissoko, one of the most famous Guinean groups in the world.

zeinabKoumanthio Zeinab Diallo Kazédi, Guinean post, photo used with her permission

Among people who came from Guinea to take part in the Book Fair were poet Koumanthio Zeinab Diallo Kazédi who website onguinea.org introduced as follows [fr]:

Elle est l'héritière d'une tradition poétique peulhe extrêmement riche. Son premier ouvrage est dédié à ses enfants, Dalanda (Lynda), Ousmane (Mawdo), Mamadou (Vieux) et Tiguidanké (Nene). Koumanthio Zeinab Diallo est fondatrice de la section guinéenne du PEN Club International, membre du Comité International des Femmes Ecrivains et de plusieurs autres associations littéraires. Elle a obtenu un premier prix de poésie pular en 1990 et Les rires du silence a reçu le prix du président de la République de Guinée au concours littéraire organisé par la Pan Africaine des Ecrivains en 2005.

She follows an extremely rich poetic tradition. Her first work was dedicated to her children, Dalanda (Lynda), Ousmane (Mawdo), Mamadou (Vieux) and Tiguidanké (Nene). Koumanthio Zeinab Diallo founded the Guinean branch of the International PEN Club, is a member of the International Committee of Women Writers and of several other literary associations. She won her first poetry prize in 1990 and Les rires du silence (The Laughs of Silence) received the Guinean President’s Prize at a literary competition organised by the Pan African Writers’ Assocation in 2005.

Tierno Monénembo, author of around ten novels, also took part. Website fr.starafrica.com introduced him [fr]:

Guinea's Exhibition Stand at the Turin Book Fair. Photo from Facebook page On Guinea

Guinea's Exhibition Stand at the Turin Book Fair. Photo from Facebook page On Guinea with their permission

Après l’étape de Casablanca, Monénembo est attendu successivement à Paris et à Genève pour la réception de différents prix remportés par son tout dernier roman « Le terroriste noir ».
Le 15 mai prochain, il est attendu à Turin en Italie, pour animer des conférences, tout en prenant part au Salon International du livre de Turin où seront notamment exposées ses œuvres traduites en Italien.

Monénembo a écrit les Crapauds-brousse (1979), Les Ecailles du Ciel (1986), Un rêve utile (1991), Un attiéké pour Elgass (1993), Pelourinho (1995), Cinéma (1997), L’Ainé des orphelins (2000), Peuls (2004), la Tribu des gonzesses (2006), le Roi de Kahel (2008) et le Terroriste noir (2012).

After the Casablanca stage, Monénembo went to Paris then Geneva to collect an assortment of prizes won for his latest novel, ‘The Black Terrorist.’
He was expected at Turin in Italy from May 15 to participate in conferences while taking part in the International Book Fair where his books were to be displayed translated into Italian.
Monénembo wrote ‘les Crapauds-brousse’ (1979), Scales of the Sky (1986), A Useful Dream (1991), Un attiéké pour Elgass (1993), Pelourinho (1995), Cinema (1997), The Eldest of the Orphans (2000), Peuls (2004), la Tribu des gonzesses (2006), The King of Kahel (2008) and The Black Terrorist (2012).

Guinea’s preparations for participation in the fair started several months ago. In January 2013 Mame Diallo wrote on website boubah.com [fr]:

Parlant de la participation de la Guinée au Salon du Livre à Turin (ex-capitale italienne), M. Adramet Barry, président de l’Association Nakiri dira que « la Guinée après sa phase d’essai va bénéficier cette fois-ci en tant qu’invitée spéciale d’un espace plus large de 90 mètres carré ». Pour ce dernier, cet espace qui aura l’occasion d’être visité du 16 au 21 mai 2013 par une moyenne de 360 000 personnes permettra à la Guinée de mettre en valeur son patrimoine culturel.

Dans l’espoir d’être les invités d’honneur en 2014 avec un stand de 300 mètres carré, les représentants guinéens entendent gagner le pari cette année et sollicitent pour ce faire, l’appui financier, technique et moral du gouvernement guinéen et de tout le peuple de Guinée.

While talking about Guinea’s participation in the Book Fair of Turin (once capital of Italy), Mr Adramet Barry, president of the Nakiri Association said that ‘Guinea after its trial phase will benefit this time as a special guest with a space of more than 90 square metres.’
For Guinea, this platform which will be visited by an average of 360,000 people from the 16th to the 21st of May will allow the country to highlight its cultural heritage.
Hoping to be the 2014 guests of honour with an exhibition stand of 300 square metres, the Guinean representatives intend to win their gamble this year and to do this are requesting financial, technical and moral support from the government and the people of Guinea.

Naby Soumah recalled [fr] on website galanyi.com that the invitation had been confirmed in Conakry during the celebration ‘des 72 heures du livre’ organised each year to commemorate World Book and Copyright Day [fr]:

L’information a été donnée ce matin au cours d’une conférence à la maison de la presse par le Président de l’association ‘’Nakiri’’, Adramet Barry en provenance de l’Italie. Pour cette association composée de guinéens vivant à l’étranger, la Guinée est invitée spéciale cette année en Italie au salon de livre de Turin.

Ainsi, la Guinée va être représentée par le comité des 72 heures libres, qui aura à présenter les œuvres guinéennes sur cette place. Pour l’association, à l’Edition prochaine, la Guinée aura le titre d’invité d’honneur à cette grande Edition. Ensuite, elle pourra être présente au salon international du livre qui se tiendra en Italie en 2014. Une véritable aubaine pour la promotion de la culture guinéenne. 

This news was given this morning during a press conference by the President of the Nakiri Assocation, Adramet Barry, who is Italian. For this association of Guineans who live abroad, Guinea was definitely the special guest this year at the Turin Book Fair.
Therefore, Guinea will be represented by the 72 heures libres committee, who will have to present Guinean works. According to the association, Guinea will be the Guest of Honour at the next event. After which, the country could be present at the next International Book Fair which will take place in Italy in 2014. A real dawn for the promotion of Guinean culture.

The capacity of the Italian-Guinean Nakiri Association [fr] to organize this participation is proof that when Guineans forget political tension they can give the country a more positive image.

 

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