At a vibrant celebration on Friday 23 October, Ledikasyon pu Travayer launched its new book shop, The Book Lover. Its previous bookshop, Labutik Liv, had been devastated in the March 2013 floods, and had for over two years functioned on a limited, but growing, stock of its mainly Kreol language books, magazines, cards and other publications. In the build-up to the International Kreol Language Day, LPT launched its new bookshop, now including a big stock of second-hand books in English and French.
The launch was held in the build-up to the celebration of World Kreol Language Day. And the theme chosen by LPT was: “High level multi-lingualism based on high-level mother tongue development”.
With one or two massive donations of second hand high-quality French and English books, the Labutik Liv has been reincarnated as The Book Lover. About 60 people, including adult literacy students, academics, LALIT members, writers, and other book-lovers, gathered first to listen to a speech made by Alain Ah-Vee for LPT, on just how the bookshop idea, although gestating for literally decades, finally got off the ground. This was followed by dramatic readings by of two poems, one by Berthold Brecht on education and the other – an Irish one – on the suppression of the mother tongue, by Pascal Nadal and Ashish Beesoondoyal. Anne-Marie Hypolite, and LPT adult literacy student, read a page from a Charles Baissac folk-tale, and related how this collection of stories was so important to her: her father and his three brothers had all been story tellers at wakes, and she knew all the stories in the book that, now that she could read, she was re-discovering. Vijay Naraidoo read an extract from his new collection of short-stories in English, set in the rural South. Alain Fanchon read his “Ti Bato Papye” now translated into 55 languages. Kisna Kistnasamy introduced the idea of a reading club, and called for anyone interested in joining to contact her. And then Guilhem Florigny formally launched the bookshop with an improvised speech on “being late” in the recognition and promotion and utilization of Kreol. The speeches were all touched by the hot headlines: that the proceedings of the National Assembly are soon to be broadcast live – the Parliamentary debate on it was being held at the very moment of the launch – and how this means that Kreol must be introduced into Parliament.
The moment everyone went inside, there was a bustle of activity as people dived into the bookshelves and crowded around the revolving book-stands, looking for the very book they wanted, from amongst an eclectic collection of books on cooking, politics, fiction, fine art and every imaginable subject under the sun.
The way the second-hand part of the bookshop will work is that books will be sold cheaply (in five categories: Rs200, Rs 100, Rs50, Rs 25 and Rs 10, with most being Rs 25) and then once a buyer has read a book, he or she is invited to return it, and get a half-price offer on another book from the same price category. In fact, at the launch two or three people made pledges of donations of books. This is lucky, as LPT members explain, because the bookshop was just about sold-out, so keen were people at the opening!
And then everyone joined in a toast, with samousas and gato pima. Juice and panakon were also served.