Cultural centers network for the promotion of literature from Africa and the Caribbean

Thanks to the support of ACPCultures+, four cultural centers are now networked to further promote literature, writers and literary events of Africa and the Caribbean


LITTAFCAR.ORG is a network of cultural centers which are sharing through the world the mission to promote African and Caribbean literatures. This network, initiated by the Belgian NGO “Coopération Education Culture (CEC)” and its specialized library in the heart of the Césaire space in Brussels, already involves today three other centers in Benin, Rwanda and Haiti, with their respective libraries: Monique Calixte and Katherine Dunham (FOKAL) libraries in Port-au-Prince, the Nicephore Soglo library (Artisttik Africa center) in Cotonou and the Madiba space (ISHYO) in Kigali.

"The first stage of the project was to develop the libraries of three project partners centers, so that each one becomes a center of reference in relation to literature in its sub-region, with a base for promoting these literatures in Europe through CEC and Césaire space", explains Dominique Gillerot, coordinator of the action. "The project makes possible to cover large literary spaces, including the Caribbean, West African, East African, and Central African literatures. The centers were able to make important purchase of books. These acquisitions, carried out in collaboration with booksellers in each country, continued based on initiatives developed by book professionals, such as the “caravans of book”, or through the development of activities by Afrilivres, a structure of diffusion-distribution of French-language publishers in Africa."

Moreover, the centers listed written, audio and audiovisual records related to these literatures (author interviews, exhibitions on literary movements, lectures etc.) and made available on the website. "Through this international collaboration and a common communication policy, the centers are now recognized for their expertise and offers services by book and literature professionals and by the community", says Monique Calixte of the Fokal library . "We achieved a noticeable promotion of the centers to a wide audience. We are cultural agents and through this project we have developed our promotion policy. We organized literary events, readings, performances ... Our centers are located in neighborhoods where there are many schools and where the aim is also to offer a library", she explains.

The cooperation has been materialized with the launch of a joint website, exchange workshops, and the establishment of a digital library (over 800 titles available). The centers also have an access license to the Bibliovox service, and publishers are joining the service by offering some of their catalog in the digital library.

"I think this project is truly an example of best practice in terms of sustainable partnership between European and ACP professionals. Our four institutions have placed the foundations for sustainable cooperation, for example through the signing of a chart for a good governance of the network", explains Dominique Gillerot.

But cooperation is not the only asset of the project. In 2015, online training modules to African and Caribbean literatures were made available on the project website. Online courses offer an integrated digital system that meets the expectations of industry professionals (teachers, researchers, publishers...) with whom contact has been established for a sustainable development of the platform.

"We began by developing two course modules devoted to African and Caribbean literatures", explains Dominique Gillerot. "The idea is that teachers set the module available to other teachers, even if they are not necessarily university professors. This could be used for example by librarians who want to train themselves. These modules can be great supplements for teachers who teach in different regions. The course is offered in two parts: first, an approach that can be called "classic", which follows a chronological canvas. Then, the course offers a "constellation” approach, a set of archipelagic thematic, where the time dimension gives possibility to put into perspective authors and literary works around worldviews, shared or not, without necessarily taking into account the geographical and/or time dimensions."

The combination of a local action (building partner libraries centers) and the promotion of international action (network) were used to develop a global vision of the needs of the book sector and its key players, and allowed to set up a favorable environment for the development of the reading culture, the recognition of the contribution of African literatures and the Caribbean in world literature as well as the strengthening of industry players capabilities.

 For more "best practices" of the ACPCultures+ Programme, visit THIS PAGE

April 29, 2016
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