Guinee culture minister Barry Siaka with blogger James Murua

Guinee minister of culture gave a rousing speech at the opening ceremony of the World Capital Book on April 23, 2017. Here is his speech in full. In French.

Conakry World Book Capital 2017

Like all countries that hosted this prestigious event “World Book Capital”, our country Guinea, driven by the concern for the free flow of ideas and opinions, today celebrates the book and copyright for one year in partnership with UNESCO and all national and international cultural actors.

Ladies and gentlemen,

To pay tribute to the tremendous solidarity that you are showing today to Guinea and its culture, allow me to introduce this address by quoting the immortal library of African wisdom, Ahmadou Hampaté Ba who said in his “letter to youth “:” the very interdependence of states imposes an indispensable complementarity of men and cultures. Nowadays, humanity is like a big factory where we work at the chain: every room, big or small, has a role to play that can condition the smooth running of the entire factory.

But in fact, what is the book ?

A simple package of printed and stitched papers? More than this volume, companion of solitude, patient and discreet calm counselor, fertile field of formation and information, symbol of fidelity of the man to his thoughts, incomparable medium between the dead and the alive ones, concentrate of the cultural experience of the humanity, vehicle of ideas and playful instrument, that is all the book.

Recall however that the book in an African context in general and Guinean in particular, it is also many problems to solve. It has a cost; it is the backbone of a chain of activities that has long been ignored or even scorned by cultural policies.

In Guinea, the recent history of the book has undergone, through politics, a cleavage that has been enriching for our literature. From the inside, the CEOs’ tomes, militant poems and individual productions served as a support to the ideology of the time. At the same time and for the great good of the contradictory debates, a literature of denunciation was animated by the Guinean diaspora and the political exiles, it is within this framework that one must quote a literary masterpiece “Guinea Albania”. Africa or American neo-colony “of a certain Alpha Condé then figurehead of the African intelligentsia in the Paris of the 70s.

This has allowed Guinea to benefit from numerous literary prizes such as Camara Laye’s Cross Veillon, Alioune Fan Touré’s Black Literary Grand Prix, the Renaudot de Monenembo Prize, the rise of Willams Sassine to the rank of Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters of France and so on.

Today, commendable are the efforts of the Government of Prime Minister Mamady Youla, but long, very long is still the way to go. Indeed, the difficulty of publishing the book, the high cost of inputs and the resulting sales do not augur the best for copyright. It is to correct this state of affairs that my Department, through the National Directorate of Books and Public Reading, is working hard for the establishment of a national book policy, legal framework containing all measures concerning the book.

Since the proof is made that next to a Guinea that sings and dances there is now a Guinea that thinks and writes, it is up to all: Government, Development Partners, Cultural and Economic Operators, Professionals of the sector of the book, it is up to all of us, I say, to rise to the challenge of:

  • Stimulate literary creation
  • Create a favorable fiscal and financial environment for the development of the book industry,
  • Develop a real national network of public reading and cultural animation.

Ladies and gentlemen, actors in the book sector!

Rest assured that today, one of the major concerns of the Government, under the chairmanship of Professor Alpha Condé is the search for ways and means for the establishment of mechanisms to support the production of the book and the protection of the right to ‘author.

It is in this context that is part of the very successful initiative of UNESCO which has just designated our capital Conakry as world capital of the book 2017.

Long live international cultural cooperation,

Thank you.

Siaka BARRY.


Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor for me as a writer, poet, playwright to speak to this group of creators of works of the spirit to reflect the determination of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and mark the commitment of the Government and the firm will of the President of the Republic Professor Alpha Condé to support and encourage the promotion of Guinean culture in general and that of literary creation in particular.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Le livre est au cœur d’une véritable problématique à la fois institutionnelle, économique, sociopolitique et éthique. Le livre, c’est aussi de nombreux problèmes à résoudre. Il a un coût ; il est le pivot d’une vaste chaîne d’activités et de professions génératrices de revenus. Auteurs,   éditeurs, distributeurs s’y activent et font une campagne importante du développement durable.

Vous comprendrez donc le sens que mon département donne à la célébration des 72heures du livre

Célébration ? Oui ! Fête et fierté oui !Car cette activité « les 72heures du livre » vientappuyer le travail de promotion de l’outil livre, préoccupation majeure de mon Département à travers ses services compétents.

Acteurs du secteur du livre, chers amis de la chaine du livre,

Voici venu le moment de comprendre à l’image de L’harmattan Guinée et ses partenaires qui nous offrentcet espaceque le livre fait partie d’un secteur économiquement stratégique. Ensemble nous devons nous faire une conception globale du secteur du livre ; un partenariat Etat /Secteur privé en vue de :


  • Stimuler la création littéraire,
  • Créer un environnement fiscal et financier favorable aux éditeurs,
  • Favoriser le commerce et la distribution du livre,
  • Développer le réseau national de bibliothèques et mettre en place des campagnes de lecture.

C’est dans cette dense et exceptionnelle fierté que le Ministère de la Culture des Sports et du Patrimoine Historique encourageL’Harmattan Guinée qui, passionnément et patiemment donne à cette activité une dimension internationale.

I would like to end my speech by paying a sublime tribute to all Guinean writers and publishers, all those who have contributed to making our country a place of literary creation and a land of literature and the book.

On this I declare open the 8th edition of 72 hours of the book in Guinea.

Long live Guinean culture in the service of change!

I thank.