Sénégalese actress and singer Amelie Mbaye, mistress of ceremonies for the evening.
From left: Director of the UCLA African Studies Center Steven Nelson; His Excellency Siaka Barry, Minister of Culture, Sports and Historical Heritage of the Republic of Guinea; and Miss Guinea of North America, Ms. Camara.
Jordan Garcia, Honorary Consul for the Republic of Guinea in Los Angeles.
Steven Nelson, director of the UCLA Center for African Studies and UCLA professor of art and architectural history.
Jacqueline Hamilton of the Office of U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass presents Minister Barry with a certificate of appreciation.
His Excellency Siaka Barry, Minister of Culture, Sports and Historical Heritage of the Republic of Guinea.
His Excellency Siaka Barry, Minister of Culture, Sports and Historical Heritage of the Republic of Guinea (right), with Amelie Mbaye interpreting.
Sansy Kaba Diakite, Director of Conakry World Book Capital 2017.
Image from the film promoting Conakry World Book City 2017. Shown in the frame his Soriba Sorel Camara, governor of Conarky.
Honorary Consul of Sénégal in Los Angeles Mame Toucouleur Mbaye.
From left: Emmanuel Bamba, Coordinator of Conakry World Book Capital; Jordan Garcia, Honorary Consul for the Republic of Guinea in Los Angeles; and Sansy Kaba Diakite, Director of Conakry World Book Capital 2017.
Director of the UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies Laure Murat (left) and His Excellency Siaka Barry, Minister of Culture, Sports and Historical Heritage of the Republic of Guinea.
From left: Paula Newton of South Africa Airways, Director of the UCLA African Studies Center Steven Nelson, and the Honorable Tesfakiros Hailu, Deputy Consul General of Ethiopia in Los Angeles.
Aissa Diaby, founder of "Welcome to Conakry" (left) and her colleague. Based in France, the two women are working on a worldwide marketing campaign to promote Conakry ahead of 2017.
By Peggy McInerny, Director of Communications
African Studies Center and Guinea celebrate “Conakry World Book Capital 2017”
The UCLA African Studies Center and the Honorary Consul of Guinea in Los Angeles recently co-hosted a reception that celebrated the naming of Conakry, capital of Guinea, as UNESCO's World Book Capital 2017.
UCLA International Institute, March 4, 2016 — The UCLA African Studies Center recently co-hosted a reception with the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Guinea in Los Angeles, Jordan Garcia, in celebration of “Conakry World Book Capital 2017.” UNESCO has designated Guinea’s capital city, Conakry, the World Book Capital for 2017, making it the world destination for the book industry via a campaign that honors writers, publishers, libraries and booksellers.
The event, held in UCLA’s Charles E. Young Research Library on Thursday, February 25, 2016, brought together distinguished members of the Guinean government, representatives of the local Guinean community, the consular corps of Los Angeles and UCLA faculty, staff and students to learn more about Guinea and its plans for the UNESCO honor. A series of presentations and the screening of a short film about Guinea and its plans for Conakry World Book Capital in 2017 preceded a lively reception.
Sénégalese actress and singer Amelie Mbaye served as the charming mistress of ceremonies for the evening, introducing speakers and providing translations of remarks from the French, with an occasional assist by Honorary Consul of Sénégal in Los Angeles Mame Toucouleur Mbaye.
Honorary Consul General of Guinea Jordan Garcia thanked everyone at UCLA for hosting the event and recounted how the idea for the reception was born during his first meeting with Steven Nelson, director of the UCLA African Studies Center, in summer 2015. He explained that he quickly got the feeling that he was speaking to an old friend with whom he shared a deep love of Africa. “I am very excited to be able to have this reception at UCLA and for Guinea to have received the UNESCO nomination,” he shared with the audience.
ASC Director and Professor of Art and Architectural History Steven Nelson welcomed everyone to the evening, saying, “We are very happy to host this event at UCLA, as it falls squarely within the mission of the African Studies Center.” Nelson also invited representatives of other African nations to come and meet with him to explore possibilities for collaboration.
The special guest of the evening, His Excellency Siaka Barry, Minister of Culture, Sports and Historical Heritage of the Republic of Guinea, was then presented with a certificate of appreciation by Jacqueline Hamilton of the Office of U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass. The congresswoman has made it a priority to engage with representatives of African nations and their diaspora communities in California.
Taking the podium, Barry confessed that he had been worried about traveling to Los Angeles in February — his first visit here. To his delight, he found that the city has beautiful weather. “I believe that there is a relationship between a warm climate and the warmth of the people who live there,” he said. “And I can see that warmth in the eyes of all the people assembled here.”
Barry explained that although Guinea had worked hard in many areas to spur national economic development, it had been unsuccessful in reaching genuine “lift-off.” “Economist David Ricardo recommended that countries should benefit from their comparative advantage,” he said, pointing out that Guinea is the biggest producer of bauxite in the world and also has huge resource wealth in iron and diamonds.
“However,” continued Barry, “I feel that Guinea’s biggest comparative advantage is its culture – this is the comparative advantage of Africa in general. And I believe that the UNESCO World Book Capital City honor will give Guinea the opening it needs to stimulate its national development.”
Sansy Kaba Diakite, Director of Conakry World Book Capital 2017, was introduced has having worked tirelessly to help Guinea and Conakry win the UNESCO nomination. Taking up Minister Barry’s theme, Diakite remarked that all the big cities of Africa have distinguished themselves, with Dakar known for art, Abidjan, for music; Ougadougou, for film, and Bamako, for photography. “And now Conakry will be known for the book,” he said.
The UNESCO designation gives Guineans not only an opportunity to learn more about their own authors, but to share them with the world, continued Diakite. He encouraged everyone present to visit Conakry during 2017, reminding them that Guinea would be celebrating the book and literacy every month of next year.
The final speaker of the evening was Miss Guinea of North America, Ms. Camara. “I am very proud that Guinea has won this honor,” she remarked, saying she was particularly delighted because she has long supported programs that promote literacy in her home country.
Spirited conversations in French and English then took over the room as the reception began, with delicious African food provided by caterer Fatou Diallo. The enthusiasm of the attendees was a sure sign that Guinea and Conakry have won a whole new set of admirers.
All pictures by Peggy McInerny/ UCLA.
Published: Friday, March 04, 2016