On Saturday, 2 September 2023, I was invited to read two of my books as part of the 10th anniversary of Lange Nacht der Literatur (Long Night of Literature) in Hamburg, Germany. Writers are invited to present their books by organizers and bookstores. Visitors can enjoy a diverse literary program with readings from novels, poetry, short prose, and dramatic works at different locations around the city. You can see the 2023 official list of invitees at this link.
Our event organizer was Millicent, the co-founder of Arca – Afrikanisches Bildungszentrum e.V. association with Fasiathek Library, a project of them, opened in March 2022. The Fasiathek is a reference library from a black perspective, i.e., black-African, Afro-German, afro-diasporic. It is a learning center with a presentation library for students and adults focusing on telling African stories, celebrating African cultures, and raising awareness about the diversity of the African diaspora. As a growing initiative, anyone is invited to support them by donating books (especially from black authors), being part of the crew as a volunteer, and financial donations. You can visit them online at this link.
I was invited to read from my two books, Finding Andy’s Home (children’s) and Even Flowers Know That Water is Useless Without Roots (adult poetry). The session kicked off with me reading the children’s book, followed by a second reading from a children’s book by a fellow author. We had an intermission to mingle with the audience before proceeding to the second poetry reading session from my book. The closing session involved a panel discussion with the audience on book publishing, relevant book availability, and personal experiences that encouraged the love of books and the traditional perception of literature in African households.
For family reasons, I opted to stay elsewhere and regret having missed an opportunity to overnight at the Wedina, a literary hotel (Lesehotel) in Hamburg. It is situated in the district of St. Georg and is about ten minutes from the central train station (Hamburg Hauptbahnhof). Focusing on culture and literature, each room is decorated with a literary theme. Their literary gem is an in-house library with signed books, plus they host readings and events. I contacted them a week later to ask if they would like to have my books. They were happy to receive signed copies from the authors. You can check them out at this link.
Hamburg has a wealth of tourist attractions. I was able to fit in a harbor tour in the evening. I love seafood, and the city offers plenty of culinary locations. I opted for the Portuguese Quarter (Portugiesenvierte), famous for fish and meat specialties and wines from Portugal, Spain, and South America.
This event was a learning experience for me. I learned from the fellow author, the organizer, and the participants. Personally, it was also an opportunity to counter that one single story in the diaspora: racism. We should not be a race perceived by racism narration only. Yes, we have been colonized. Yes, we have faced and continue to face racism. But we should not forget to tell our positive stories. We are the good stories, too!