“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin
On Saturday, July 23rd, the team of Addis Insight paid a visit to the book fair that was being held at the exhibition center starting from July 21-24. The organizers seemed to have related with the quote above, the whole fair was themed “Reading For Life”, “ንባብ ለህይወት”. To add up to that, entrance was free, which is a very inviting gesture even for those who aren’t book lovers. As we looked around we saw people moving from one book store stand to another delighted, it was fulfilling just to see the presence of all the books at a time where reading has become so scarce. Book shopping is indeed different, we can never be disappointed afterwards, because unlike any other material we can always use them, we can always fit into them as we please, as books aren’t things that will fade in time, in fact, in time we grow into them.
The book fair was carefully organized, it has books all way from religious to philosophy books, children to adult sections, and again we watched parents buying books for the little ones in desperation of raising them through the habit. Down that row there were sections from different book stores having books from old classics to modern literature both from Amharic and English collections for the fairest price that we could actually say comes once in a very while. On the other side of the corner we saw religious book stands of different religions some for sale and some for free, which again was presented both for children and adults. The other thing we found interesting was that there were sections taking orders, they have books that aren’t available in diversity or at all in here, like comic book series, so one with a particular title in mind can order and get the book. And for all the others who want books in softcopies were also available in the second hall.
After we looked around, we were able to talk to one of the organizers, the project manager and a journalist Anteneh Kebede, who gave us a brief insight about the whole event.
“It has been over a year and 6 months since we started the book fair. The book fair normally takes place at AAU but not as big as this one where lot of companies participate along. in fact the fair at the AAU celebrated its 10th year. We started the “Reading For Life” book fair inspired by all the books fairs that were hosted before, but as I said they weren’t big and some were even exhibiting the books on the grounds, while the intention of presenting the books to the readers was good, the way was somehow degrading the works and not really respectful to the authors. So having this ground we started working on this book fair as a big project, where the books can be presented just as in book stores, in a respectable and attracting manner. Last year we hosted the first book fair July 26 where 150 companies participated, aside the book exhibitions there were also other events hosted along like book releases. This year, the book fair is presented bigger than last year with 120 participants, this is because big institutions like Goethe German cultural institute and others took space. They were staging daily themed nights for the four days by inviting guest speakers that are motivational public figures to inspire the people. The days were themed as poetry day where there was a poetry reading, Facebook posts again posts were read, German stories and finally short Ethiopian stories.
Aside the Goethe stage, the “Reading For Life” fair also staged different activities every night for the four days, On the first day, there was a teaching by a guest speaker Ahmed who explained about the Islam religion and how it teaches reading to its followers. On the other days coming after that, Abinet Sime took the stage to elaborate the origin of wisdom through reading, Selam Aklilu then took the people that attended to a lift through her positive energy session and also covered children books. As you can see apart from the book fair we were able to include some inspiring and interacting activities along covering different topics, Yeshaw Tesema for instance gave a brief explanation on how ladies are represented through literature now and then and a lot of others were invited as well like Dr. Dagnachew, Solomon Moges just to name the few. Tonight (Saturday) we have invited a dance group from Gondor to perform a particular dance they choreographed representing where they came from. Other than the entertainment through giving knowledge there was also a training given by Dr. Teshome on children’s growth guide for parents.
So on this book fair we tried to deliver what is in need. What makes this year’s a bit different from last time is that we gave our free space for profit free organizations doing voluntary works among our society so that they could present themselves and run their project as well.
And on the final day we are having closing activities where we will be giving recognition to the people that have contributed a lot to our country through the literature and in keeping the reading habit alive, we are having a ceremony to award those people, and also we have a section on the event where we chose one figure to be awarded a “Gold pen” “የወርቅ ብእር” deserving the most of recognition.
Generally, we would like and will work to take this fair running, each time well organized to lure more readers along and to keep this habit.”
Our time with Anteneh was really illuminating that we went back to see more of it. And we came across the voluntary organizations, one from a Rotaract club, Rotaract club of Habesha were collecting books to give away for those who can’t afford to buy in schools and Tesfa Birhan voluntary team were cleaning shoes as a fund raising for their project in providing school materials for children who again can’t afford to buy those materials.
Hoping most of you got the chance to visit the book fair, as it was truly fair both in price and the quality of the books provided in terms of great works, it was a privilege to have been part of such a great event.
“Reading for life” book fair finalized yesterday with the gold pen going to the great Author Adam Reta who just had his latest work “የስንብት ቀለማት” (ye senibit kelemat)
We would like to conclude our review of our visit quoting a Chinese proverb “A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.” …and passing on the message to all, “Read for life”.