Last Monday, the international book fair in Frankfurt ended. About 278,000 visitors in five days and 7,000 exhibitors were part of the largest book fair in the world. This year, the fair was politically targeted. Apart from the developments in Turkey, the European crisis was also at the centre of the debates. Right wing publishers, which found themselves tolerated by the organizers of the book fair, encouraged protest. France was Guest Country of Honour this year but a guided tour through their pavilion informed us that actually, it was not the country but rather the French language celebrated. Belgium, Luxemburg, Switzerland – but where were the francophone counties of Africa? In hall 5.1 we then met a small number of publishers from the continent, such as Amalion Publishing from Senegal for example. Their high-quality books by authors from all over West Africa were unfortunately not part of the debate that took place on African publishing on Friday. Publishers from Guinea, Rwanda and Germany came together on a panel. They focussed on the problems in African countries rather than on the growing markets or middleclass. When unverified numbers about the literacy rate in “all African schools” were put out there, it caused an uproar in the audience. Africa was once again homogeneous and apart from that one event, sadly it was not present in Frankfurt. Nnedi Okorafor was one of the very few authors adding an (US-American-) African perspective to the fair.
On behalf of the Nigeria Embassy, InterKontinental organized a round table talk on Saturday, exploring possibilities of a larger visibility of African literature in Germany. Especially a meeting between H.E. Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar and Director Jürgen Boos gives hope for an individual Guest Country of Honour from the African continent – a literary chance for true diversity at the fair.