The days are moving in literary ways. The people of Somaliland have an heritage of poetry in their stories and songs. Already for ten years the city of Hargeisa is the host of an important bookfair, a literary fair, a fair of songs and poetry, a fair filled with dance and song, a fair filled with words.
Read here a story about these ten years.
The topic of the life of an immigrant is still very much alive. How many writers who have left one place to move to another place have written down their experiences, their hopes, their struggles. Not just those of the writer, but also giving voice to the experience of others.
Imbolo Mbue hails from the West African country Cameroon. She moved to the United States of America. Studied, worked, lost a job, started writing in a secluded way. She produced the well received novel Behold the Dreamers.
In this interview she tells more about her journey.
The Kenyan writer Adipo Sidang’ has been around for some time. He studied far and near. He lectured at the University of Nairobi. Now he has published a collection of his poetry. The collection is titled Parliament of Owls. The poems hit a note with readers and critics. One of his fields of interest is the theatre. Read more about this literary monk.
The Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o has joined a growing number of writers and publishers and organization that have decided top boycott a Swedish book Fair. The reason given is the presence of a rightwing magazine at the fair. The organization does not want to budge, but wants to promote dialogue. Read more about it here.
In September an important Book Fair will be held in the Nordic country Sweden. Many visitors are expected to have a look at this fair, to interact with publishers and writers. One of the writers who was invited is the Kenya-born Ngugi wa Thiong’o. He now has informed the organizers of the Book Fair that he will not be attending. The reasons is twofold: * solidarity with others who have decided to boycott the fair, * the presence of a rightwing newspaper Nya Tider. Will a boycott like this help the interaction of a diversity of opinions? Read more about it here.
On the cover of this book it is written that this book is a novel. Reading the book I travelled from novel, to autobiography, to guide, to informationcenter. It is a mixture written out of love for the people of Eritrea.
The story centers around the journey of Wim (!) to Eritrea. He is in search of his father Theo who travelled to the very same country and he never came back. He wanted to do research for a book on the civil war. He never send a message from his destination to his wife and children.
Wim has made contact in advance with Haile (who speaks Dutch for he has worked with Dutch people in Sudan) who will guide him through Eritrea and will help him to make contact with people who fought in the civil war. Haile uses his network to do research. People are very willing to come forward with information.
Within the story we read about the relationship between Wim and his father Theo. His memories, his son and father moments. The love of his father (teacher of history and geography) for Africa and his desire to write a study on Eritrea.
The writer uses this journey to share with the reader a lot of information. Talks with people are used to instill into the readers all aspects of Eritrean life. At times this is a burden of information.
This book is not the most literary of books (to put it mildly). But this book probably does not aim at that pinnacle. It wants to show Eritrea and its beauty and its beautiful people. We travel to Asmara and Massawa and Keren and Dekamhare.
The title means ‘The coffee ritual’ refering to the elaborate ritual of making coffee, that Wim has often witnessed. Then he used a cup of good coffee.
Wim Drost – Het Koffieritueel. Een roman over het leven in Eritrea – 2003