Establishment of a federation of reading clubs in Mali by Mr. Drissa Coulibaly
Hello M. Drissa COULIBALY!
What was your first experience with books and reading?
I discovered books in class 2 (the first grade) and up to class 6 (the fifth grade), I had only been reading pieces of text found in school manuals. Gradually, I started reading novels such as Les frasques d’Ebinto, Sous l’orage or L’aventure ambigüe, in high school. After the Advanced level, the Faculty of Philosophy directed me towards books forever.
What are the first children’s books you read?
I read Mamadou et Binéta. It was difficult for me to read more books because I didn’t have any. The reading of this book helped me to improve my vocabulary through conjugation. It is a truly educational book.
Can you briefly tell us about your career? How did you become interested in children’s books? Was it a choice or a matter of destiny?
I am a reader; I lead the « cafés philo » and I plan to do philosophy with children to train little Plato, little Karl Marx, etc., It is all about leading philosophical workshops with children on topics that at first sight seem banal but which will help children to familiarise with discussion.
Do you carry out actions for the promotion of children’s literature in Africa/Mali? Do not hesitate to describe them if necessary.
I am in charge of a book club in Bamako. For the past ten years, we have been organising meetings focused on books of all genre. Sometimes we invite authors. Our audience is made up of young people (at least 15 years old), students and even people who are already working.
What impact has COVID had on your work? What measures did you develop to adapt?
Well, COVID has slowed down our activities. We were forced to limit the number of participants in our meetings; sometimes we simply stopped everything.
In Cameroon, as in Africa, the children’s book sector is little known by the general public and especially by parents. How do you explain this phenomenon?
I myself became aware of children’s literature not long ago. I think this is due to a communication problem.
What do you think about the general situation of books and reading in your country? In Africa? Do you have any proposals to make to improve its management?
In Mali, book promotion is evolving because clubs and associations for the promotion of books and reading are spreading everywhere. Now, I am working to federate reading clubs in Mali in order to propose national initiatives around books and reading in Mali. Such initiatives should be encouraged and supported, but also copied elsewhere. Such networking could have a positive impact on book-related activities in Africa.
In Africa, children’s literature is on the periphery and is considered a marginal genre compared to classical literature. What do you think about this?
As I said, it is a lack of communication. In addition, authors of children’s books are rare and sometimes less relevant. I think this sector deserves our attention beyond the « Ressources éducatives » project.
What is your vision for the future of children’s literature in your country?
I think that if those involved in this literature take into account the production of quality and quantity of children’s books, children’s literature will grow in my country. The « frifrini » (butterfly) collection of the Sahelienne publishing house in Bamako and the children’s books of the Figura publishing house should be capitalised on.
How do you intend to contribute to the Muna Kalati project? *
I am a philosopher by training. I would like to write books for little apprentice philosophers. This is a new experience in Mali. I could share it with Muna Kalati.
A final word?
Let’s work to communicate the importance of children’s literature to the public.