When I went to the Book Fair at Expo Hall I met some authors who do have amazing views about the exhibition and it was very inspiring and at the same time enlightening. They shared their thoughts and experiences without hesitation.
‘‘As a whole we have the same purpose in selling the books in this hall or we can say we have the same message to pass on to the readers”, pointed out Engineer Fisha Gebreegziabiher, one of the famous authors in Eritrea. He wrote books like Grat Bernente, Weysero Wininu, Nbr Nera and others; he also wrote scripts for movies like Rgbit Noah (part one and part two) as well as Ngus Chaka. He has this inspiring verse ‘’The way to internationalism is through localism. Being local means being original”. Therefore his most writings are centered around Eritrean culture.
He explained that we all strive to pass and respect the important values of the community like giving respect to beliefs and values of our society, avoiding destructive behaviors, continuously searching for knowledge, keeping up with sciences and technologies, put time great effort to be a great person, not giving up, and not fooling around for temporary pleasure. He also added that we need to give our advice for the young to be a productive generation, to use their time properly and to be creative. To work hard to learn and get experiences from other people, to identify their talent and capacity, to have courage to take a step forward. Thus, the main purpose of is to touch readers’ life positively. Books have this excellent ability.
Author Abraham Tsehaye who I also met in the hall writes books for children. He said that the main purpose the Book Fair is to give benefits to readers by giving them access to variety of books by just visiting the hall without the need to go to stationeries. The author also said his books, are sold far and above the 30% discount.
He added that the Book Fair also has significance in giving opportunities to the writers. ‘‘We got this benefit to introduce our books in very easily without searching places and people to sell our books. He suggested this event be twice or thrice a year, because readers and writers can have the opportunity to exchange experiences and thoughts.
Abraham also suggested that to improve the reading habit parents and teachers have huge responsibility. He added that to promote reading appetite, the teachers have to encourage students look for a variety of books to understand and master their lessons. Besides parents should be role models of a reading habit in their daily life because children learn things better not by telling but by showing. And he added that parents should spend their money in books instead of spoiling things because buying books is not money wasting rather its money investing (it increases their knowledge).
Another young author, who is incepting in translating English books to Tigrigna, Mr.Ahadu Desta-Alem said that in this Book Fair there is an opportunity to exchange experiences with those expert writers and that it an advantage especially for young writers like them and to meet with the readers. He explained that translating books like Harry Potter has an impact to increase the readers’ eagerness to read books instead of just watching it as a movie. Translation, he added, gives them this huge opportunity to introduce themselves with current technologies to enable them discover things which the world is up to.
As the Research and Documentation Center indicated the Book Fair includes different activities other than displaying books for sale and exhibition. For example, share experience and knowledge with young Eritreans mainly students from high school. Contests of general knowledge, debating and painting competitions among students from junior and high school are also part of the program. This activity has been followed and guided for the past months by the Branch Offence of Ministry Education in Zoba Maekel.
Moreover, to inspire students the exhibition is visited, among others, by students from high schools and junior secondary schools in Asmara in an organized manner with the help of the Ministry of Education.
In the Book Fair that is taking place in ASMARA, more than 200 institutions and individuals including writers, publishers, printers, book sellers, libraries, book clubs, kindergarten centers and others are displaying their products and services. This year nineteen new books seven and educational charts will be added to our existing list of books by 92 individual authors. 105 book sellers are displaying 646 titles and two educational charts. Six second hand book sellers are also displaying 1300 titles. 80 books are also displaying for sell.
In addition, organization under United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), American Embassy, European Union, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Italian school are displaying their products.
Rora Digital library, digital library of the Ministry of Education, Poly Technique, printing presses and publishers are performing their activities and providing their services.
Books are selling at 30% discount/ reduced price in all Zobas and regions. The 20% discount covered by the Government of Eritrea and the PFDJ (People Force Defense Justice) and booksellers are making the 10% discount.
All in all the exhibition has a tremendous effect in improving the reading and writing habit of the society. Its books week after all, which has great impact to put the ideas of books on the mind of the society. Overall, the progress in strengthening the reading habits is promising, but to achieve the desired success there should be coordinated efforts on the part of all stakeholders.