Bellagio Publishing Network  

 BPN Newsletter Issue No 29, December 2001 


5th Kinshasa Book Fair 23 November - 1 December 2001

Corneille Monoko
Corneille Monoko is Director, Kinshasa Book Fair, BP 3478, Kinshasa-Gombe, DR Congo. email:

Translated from the French by Sulaiman Adebowale

The series of activities marking the 5th Kinshasa Book Fair was held from 23 November to 1 December 2001, at the Acad�mie des Beaux Arts, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. The fair, also known as Bibliophilie '01, brought together not just publishers but also other actors and entrepreneurs involved in promoting culture in the Congo. The trade event this year centred on three major activities: a seminar on the country's National Book Council, an exhibition of Congolese writing in all its forms, and the meeting of cultural entrepreneurs.

The National Book Council in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The fair's organising committee set up a meeting of actors in the book trade on 23 November, to discuss the question of the need for a national book council. The participants summed up needs to be addressed as follows:

1 develop a structure to study, plan and implement a book policy that is embedded in the country's cultural policy;

2 elaborate the working documents and structure of the book council and the strategies to adopt in the implementation of the council; and

3 set up a working secretariat with the responsibility of drafting the framework for the governing structure and of developing a collective database and network of competence and knowledge in publishing in the country.

These statements demonstrate that actors in the book sector are no longer willing to leave the situation as it is, they are determined to propose effective book policies or, if necessary, to put pressure on public institutions, to ensure that they recognise the realities of publishing and literature in the DR Congo. For book actors, these objectives also signify a sincere commitment and an existential necessity for the sustainability of the industry.

The working group formed at the end of the meeting comprises the following members:

• Corneille Monoko, Foire du Livre de Kinshasa;
• Jean Pierre Manuana, Centre de recherche et de documentation de l'enseignement sup�rieur et universitaire de Kinshasa (CDESURK);
• Prof Manda Kizabi, Universit� de Kinshasa;
• Ren� Pambu Pasha, Centre internationale de civilisations Bantou (CICIBA-RDC);
• Pierre-Aim� Mobembo, Association des Biblioth�caires, Archivistes, Documentalistes et Mus�ologues (ABADOM);
• Bokeme Sha ne Molobay, Pr�sident du salon internationale du livre de Kinshasa (SILKIN).

The 5th Kinshasa Book Fair

The 5th International Kinshasa Book Fair was opened by Madame Marthe Ngalula wa Fuana, the Minister for Arts and Culture and Madame Manoka, Vice-President for International Cooperation. The main highlight of the opening ceremony was a literary award event. La foire du livre de Kinshasa awards were given to Boka and Lutumba, the composers of 'D�bout Congolais', the country's national anthem, and known to every child in the country since 1960. The ceremony also witnessed the launching of a new literary award competition, 'Entre les bras du fleuve', organised by the Communaut� fran�ais de belgique, represented at the occasion by Mr Freddy Jacquet. The competition is open to Congolese writers below the age of 30.

The fair provided an opportunity for local publishers to promote their titles to the public and link up with authors as well as other publishers. The fair continued till 1 December 2001. Prominent among the activities at this year's fair were: visits from pupils and students led by the Institut National des Arts, which also organised a cultural workshop; book clubs; an exhibition of writings, illustrations and literature for and from children, who made up 80% of the visitors; workshops coordinated by the Association des auteurs et illustrateurs des livres pour enfants - ALIELE/Congo [Association of Authors and Illustrators of Children Books]; and the editorial board of the comic book Bleu blanc.

As with previous editions of the fair, exhibitors and visitors also had the chance to see artworks (ceramics and sculptures) being created as part of the fair organisers' efforts at bridging the frontiers within the arts.

In spite of the continued difficulties faced by the publishing industry - notable are the weak purchasing power of the general public and the meagre resources and equally weak marketing competence of local publishers - there is a growing publishing industry in the country. According to the depository of the National Library of the Congo, 450 titles were published in DR Congo in 2001. It is remarkable that, amidst the conflict in the country, books were rolled out of the press, in as great a quantity as the minerals which form the basis of the senseless pillage that has ravaged the nation for some years now.

The thirst to read, the hunger to write, which came out from the 5th Kinshasa Book Fair is comforting to the organisers, given its objective of promoting reading, strengthening the publishing industry and boosting the book trade.

The cultural entrepreneurs meeting

Under the auspices of the Ing�nierie Culturelle et Artistique de Kinshasa (ICAK), cultural entrepreneurs in the DR Congo gathered for the third time during the Kinshasa Book Fair on 26 November.

The outcome of this meeting saw the creation of a platform known as Organisation Congolaise de l'Entrepreneuriat Culturel (OCEC). The body's main objectives are to promote their work, participate in the drafting of a cultural policy and inject resources and knowledge from culture and the arts in the development processes of their society. A working group has been set up to run the affairs of the body until the election of a secretariat. Its members are:

• Corneille Monoko, Pr�sident de La Foire du livre de Kinshasa
• Placide Pidi a Gumama, Directeur du Festival Socioculturel de Gungu • Nono Bakwa, Directeur de Festival Internationale de l'Acteur

The committee has already begun work on its first main series of activities: to put in place a viable training programme and to develop a web site on culture and the arts in the Congo.

The 6th Kinshasa Book Fair is scheduled for 30 November to 8 December 2002. Detailed information is available from Corneille Monoko. [end]  [BPN, no 29, 2001, pp 4-5.]


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