Saturday, October 19, 2013

Reflections on The 2013 Twin Cities Book Festival

The Twin Cities Book Festival on October 12 in St. Paul, Minnesota, was another memorable, successful event. In order to be on time for the opening of the Festival, I left early, at 8:00am, arriving at 9:00am. As I was setting up my table, many other exhibitors were doing the same.

I had paid $80 for a half table, and was assigned table number 12. I had registered my exhibition under the name of Africonexion, a little company I own and run, which publishes my books and coordinates my seminars, workshops, and  presentations. The focus is the challenges and opportunities presented by cultural diversity.

As usual, people started arriving early, and when the doors opened, the exhibition hall became a hive of activity. It was heartwarming to observe so many people moving from table to table, talking with authors, booksellers, and publishers, browsing through books and buying books. 

I hear much about the declining fortunes of the book and the book industry as we know it, but being in an event like this festival makes you forget completely that there is such a decline. The number of publishers alone, and the many many titles on display, is enough to give you second thoughts.

Above all, none of these people seemed despondent. On the contrary, they exuded good cheer and optimism. The large number of readers and book buyers underlined the point, at least for me, that the book is here to stay.

Because I was at my table the whole time, I did not get the opportunity to hear the guest writers and observe other programs which were part of the Festival. But this could not be avoided, and it did not diminish the fullness of my satisfaction.

I met and had conversations with a good number of people, and was pleased to see them browse though my books, giving me an opportunity to talk about my work. I cannot express well enough how humbled I was when the people who bought my books asked that I sign them.

It was another very memorable Festival, thanks to the hard work, diligence, and commitment, of Rain Taxi and the many volunteers who worked hard and cheerfully, throughout the day answering questions and helping anyone who needed help. I look forward the 2014 Festival.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Twin Cities Book Festival, October 12

The Twin Cities Book Festival, the biggest book festival in the upper Midwest, USA, is here already. It will be held tomorrow, October 12, at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. An annual event, this Festival brings together thousands of book lovers, writers, editors, publishers, booksellers, illustrators and critics.

I have participated in a number of these festivals, and I am ready for tomorrow. I look forward to talking with many people, sharing ideas and experiences about writing, publishing, and related subjects. As usual, I will be exhibiting my books. In the video below, you can hear me talking briefly about my most popular book: Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

St. Olaf International and Off-campus Studies Open House

Today, here at St. Olaf College, we held another international and off-campus studies open house. An annual event, around this time, it is an occasion to showcase the many international and off-campus study programs we run. St. Olaf is a top-ranked college in the USA in this field.

We have programs in different parts of the world, a number of them in African countries, including Senegal, Ghana, South Africa, and Namibia. I am the advisor for the ACM Tanzania and ACM Botswana programs.

Students interested in, or curious about, these programs get the chance to learn more by talking with program advisors.

It is always a pleasure to talk with students seeking to study abroad, to tell them about the countries they are thinking about, the educational system, the people and the culture, and such things.

Studying abroad is a valuable part of the students' education, and we encourage it seriously.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Afrifest Foundation Board Meeting, October 5

Yesterday, we had another Afrifest Foundation board meeting, at the Center for Families in Minneapolis. We noted that we have received our much awaited 501c 3 from the International Revenue Service. This is great news. With this status, the Afrifest Foundation will have more opportunities to explore and more independence in certain actions.

The meeting was attended by Nathan White, who chaired it, Wycliff Chakua, Denise Butler and Joseph L. Mbele. We also welcomed two new board members: Dayolin Pratt and Dennis Omwenga. We told them how Afrifest has, over the years, braved all kinds of challenges including naysayers and prophets of doom, and built a strong organization which knows exactly where it is going, and which has already built a large network of, collaborators, friends and well-wishers.

We had a rich agenda, including reviewing the Afrifest festival we held on August 10. We are grateful that we decided to go ahead with the festival, even though the situation made it difficult for us to plan as elaborately as we normally do. We were driven by the idea that, no matter what, having the festival every year was very important. We noted the generosity of our sponsors, such as Wells Fargo Bank. We will soon start planning for the 2014 festival. With the 501c3 status in our hands, our spirits are experiencing a big boost.