Home » Operation “One beer, one book” with Congolese writer Bukondo wa Hangi | The librarian

Operation “One beer, one book” with Congolese writer Bukondo wa Hangi | The librarian

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Operation “One beer, one book” with Congolese writer Bukondo wa Hangi |  The librarian

Imagine a karaoke night where books are the unexpected stars! We had the chance to chat with the writer Bukondo wa Hangi, a pioneer who decided that libraries were too boring and that books also belonged in bistros!

Bukondo wa Hangi agrees to share his dreams with us. In his world, books are not meant to remain neatly lined up on library shelves. No, they deserve to be at the center of the action, including in the relaxed atmosphere of a bistro.

His flash of genius came when he realized that books needed to get out of their comfort zone (libraries and bookstores) and become the rockstars of bistros. This allows the books to reach a different audience. “ Why not demystify the book by exhibiting it where people meet, far from libraries and literary salons?“, he explains. And it started from the observation of the distance which separates the book from the majority of Congolese people.

But the book at the bistro event was not without its challenges. Bukondo remembers the art of attracting attention, therefore of making signs and shouting to attract the curious towards his stand, carefully positioned at the entrance to a large bistro on the square, during an evening concert. It was like trying to get a cat’s attention with a laser! Yet once the audience was there, something magical happened. “ People, who had never shown any interest in a book, would come up, touch the bindings and take a look.“, as if they discovered a hidden treasure.

During one of these evenings, a fiery fight broke out (unfortunately under the influence of alcohol). “ A participant called me the next day, explaining that the books he had enthusiastically purchased had been stolen during the melee! This raises the question: have our books become objects of desire? One thing is certain, fortunately, the man who had his books stolen was able to order more two days later. »

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When Bukondo is asked how he measures the success of this bold initiative, he responds with a smile and says that when the artist of the day presented him on the podium, the audience suddenly became interested in what he was doing. he had come to present: books. “ They asked for the price and sales points as if it were the start of a literary auction. Some bought on site, others left us their numbers promising to come back. It was as if the books had become the stars of a show. »

As for his book “ Treatise on the Civilization of the Bahunde“, which could be described as “bibliophobes’ bait”, Bukondo describes it as a great exploration in 15 chapters. This book deals with history, spirituality, it also evokes the mythology, tales, culture and art of the indigenous “Hunde” people of the territories of Masisi, Nyiragongo, Rutshuru, as well as part of Walikale and Kalehe. He insists on the importance of sharing this cultural wealth with a wide audience, stressing that talking about the Bahunde is also talking about all the peoples of Kivu.

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© Bukondo Wa Hangi

When it comes to engaging writers, Bukondo suggests taking the book out of its usual environment. “ Libraries and literary salons are good, but currently, it is up to books to reach the public. Let’s display it at football games, karaoke nights, or wherever people gather. Reading should be a leisure activity, accessible to all. »

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So, Bukondo’s future plans include more exhibitions in unconventional places such as soccer fields, bistros, music concerts, and even karaoke bars.

He concludes by issuing a challenge to skeptics: “ Let’s prove together that the Congolese read, and remember that reading is not a punishment. It can be enjoyed like a television series, at your own pace, without time constraints. Reading is a lifetime, not just a moment.«

Presentation of the book “Treatise on the civilization of Bah un de” in a bistro © Bukondo Wa Hangi

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