World Book Day 2018

It's World Book and Copyright Day, the global celebration to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. Ever wondered why the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chose April 23 as the day to celebrate books?

"On 23 April 1616, two giants of world literature died, two precursors whose work would revolutionize the way fiction was conceived and written: Cervantes and Shakespeare. This coincidence is why 23 April was chosen to be World Book and Copyright Day," writes Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General in her 2018 Message on World Book and Copyright Day

To mark the occasion each year on 23 April, UNESCO and international organizations representing the three major sectors of the book industry - publishers, booksellers, and libraries, select a city as the World Book Capital until 23 April of the following year.

Conakry, Guinea was UNESCO World Book Capital City April 23, 2017- April 22, 2018.

From April 23, 2018, to April 22, 2019, …

Pre-Election 411: Red, Green, Blue, and Happiness

The  March 7 election in Sierra Leone is definitely one event Sierra Leoneans are watching for in the first half of 2018.

While there's probably nothing more important than who gets to rule the small West African nation for the next five years, there's something else that will hit the Richter scale.

Aminatta Forna's newest novel will launch March 2018 in the United States (Atlantic Monthly Press). For readers in Britain, the book will be available in  April from Bloomsbury UK.

Aminatta was born in Scotland, raised in Sierra Leone and Britain. She is the award-winning author of the novels The Hired Man, The Memory of Love and Ancestor Stones, and a memoir The Devil that Danced on the Water.

The Times of London calls Aminatta "an unsparing chronicler of human vices."

Happiness, her new novel, is about how a chance meeting of Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist, and Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes, on Waterloo Bridge, London, span out and interweave, br…

Vitabu Reads: Best Books of 2017

Here are Vitabu's favorite books for 2017. All of them were published by Sierra Leone Writers Series. Some this year, others in 2016, and even earlier. To read the book reviews, please click on the title.

Landscape of Memories
by Oumar Farouk Sesay

In his first novel, “Landscape of Memories” (2015), Oumar Farouk Sesay has melded his boundless talent for playwriting and poetry with prose to write a stunning story featuring the most defining issues of our time: migration, identity, and common values of a community.

We're Not Our Fathers 
by Joseph Lamin Kamara

On the cover of Joseph Lamin Kamara’s 2016 noir fiction, the lovers in the woods beam promises of a sweet adventure. “Lahai and Kornyaa have adopted a responsibility of giving each other a love their fathers have refused to give their mothers,” reads the hopeful back blurb of the book.

Hybrid Eyes: An African in Europe; Unknown Destination 

by Abdul B. Kamara and Osman Alimamy Sankoh

Abdul B. Kamara’s Unknown Destination and …

Vitabu Reads | Sierra Leone Higher Education: At the Crossroads of Change

Kosonike Koso-Thomas's book, Sierra Leone Higher Education: At the Crossroads of Change, traces the establishment of an engineering faculty in a traditional liberal arts university, but the story is also about how an extraordinary graduate in fast-track leadership started out in his academic career and advanced to success in college administration.

In September 1962, Koso-Thomas arrived in Sierra Leone from England and moved into his new job as head of a fledgling Engineering Department. He had been preparing for the moment for over six months.

“Who else do we have in the department? He quizzed the college principal at the meet and greet.
 “We expect a new staff member to join us during the session,” came the conciliatory response.
“I shifted in the chair thinking I might be gray by the time this [person] arrives,” the young and restless Koso-Thomas thought. 

Organization and culture
Still, there was a lot about the campus organization and culture that the young agent of change had y…

Vitabu Reads: Contemporary Fireside Stories

Tony Jordan might not have been the first to get the idea of “building literary tunnels through which to liberate characters from the constraints of Dickensian novels,” but the thought was on my mind after reading Contemporary Fireside Stories during Banned Books Week.

Let me explain.

Banned Books Week is promoted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International.

The annual campaign "stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them" and the requirement to keep material publicly available so that people can develop their own conclusions and opinions.

The campaign notes those individuals "persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate, or read." The 2017 date is September 24–30.

Tony Jordan created new lives for Charles Dickens’s greatest characters in a British television series Dickensian, which I watched back to back recently. Contemporary Fireside Stories is a volume of short …

Vitabu Reads: Ponder My Thoughts Vol. 1 by Andrew Keili

Andrew Keili's shrewd, introspective, oftentimes hilarious commentaries in Ponder My Thoughts Vol. 1 are much like the opinion articles he wrote in the mid-2000s, when he explained post-war Sierra Leone, its management, or lack of it, in local, regional, and national government.  How we see things depends on where we stand on Sierra Leonean--ness, society, and politics.

Keili's book, Ponder My Thoughts, captures a year (2013) in observations and stories, but it's not a time capsule. It's information you can use—contemporary Sierra Leonean history pieced together one op-ed at a time.

Remember that debate surrounding misuse of funds from GAVI?  The global vaccine alliance that buys vaccines with Gavi funding, procured through UNICEF directly with the manufacturer, and delivered to low-income countries like Sierra Leone?

Keili's columns start with the uncompromising subject of misuse of funds in public life and how Sierra Leone doesn't learn from mistakes.


Vitabu Reads: Tiger Fist (Two Stories) A novella

Nnamdi Carew was fourteen years old when his science fiction meet fantasy was first published in 2013.

The two stories that make up his colorful novella, Tiger Fist One and Tiger Fist Two, superbly blend superheroes like old Marvel, Captain America, and Superman, while blurring the lines of video game icons in "The "Legend of Zelda" and "World of War craft" with modern-day battles.

Tiger Fist's story starts with how a baby boy, the main protagonist, became Tigerton – a huge cat-like creature with orange stripes and a menacing tail.

Soon after the boy in Nnamdi's story was born to anthropologists Austin and Bianca Blake, the couple was killed by Tigerton, a hybrid of a tiger and a human similar to the mythical Minotaur, which Ovid the Roman poet described as being part man and part bull.

Austin and Bianca had traveled to China to look for fossils and conduct studies into ancient beings and creatures.

Intrigued by the hapless toddler, who had somehow go…