HAVANA._ Convinced that integration is the key to progress, people from across the world are joining a process that involves every sphere of society, with a special focus on literature.

In line with this process, the Cuban Book Institute (CBI) intends to strengthen relations with African countries that have diplomatic missions in Havana.

The CBI president, Zuleica Romay, said that one of the objectives of Cuba´s editorial policy is to disseminate the kind of literature that, due to its emancipating nature, is ignored by big transnationals as they regard books as just another commodity.

Convinced that integration is the key to progress, people from across the world are joining a process that involves every sphere of society, with a special focus on literature.“That is why we would like to expand our ties with African cultural institutions that have a significant literary production, not in terms of numbers but in terms of their authors and the quality of their works,” Romay noted.

She also praised Havana’s 2013 International Book Fair which was dedicated to Angola and allowed for updated information on Angolan literature.

“However, we are still indebted to other African countries,” the CBI president regretted. Literary works by internationally renowned African authors are not widely available in Cuba, if at all. In spite of that reality, it is worth highlighting the work done by the Arte y Literatura publishing house in printing works by prestigious African authors.


Some of the books by African authors that have been printed by this publisher are El balcón del frangipani (Under the Frangipani) by Mozambican Mia Couto, Jaime Bunda, agente secreto (Jaime Bunda, Secret Agent) by Angolan Artur Pestana, as well as an anthology of Angolan tales.

Also included on the list are the following works in the English language: Magical Intervals, and a compilation of Anonymous African Poetry, an anthology by Rogelio Martínez Furé, the most important Cuban researcher and specialist in Afrocuban culture.

At the meeting with African diplomats, the publishing house’s director, Víctor Malagón, recognized that much remains to be done in order to make more African books available in Cuba.

For this purpose, an initiative that could motivate African writers, academics, and researchers is the meeting on slavery announced by the CBI president.


As a means for facilitating closer ties with Africa, Romay proposed holding an international meeting on slavery during Havana’s next International Book Fair, which would allow for reflection on the origins and development of that practice.

“In Latin America and the Caribbean there is still a lot of confusion and doubt surrounding that terrible chapter. I believe that the event will be a good opportunity to exchange viewpoints between academics from our region and Africa,” she noted.

The announcement awakened the interest of African diplomats who met at the Cuban cultural institution. The consul for the embassy of Guinea-Bissau, Paulo Armando, suggested that the analysis take into account the process as seen from the slave trader countries: Spain, Portugal, and France.

Meanwhile, the first secretary of Benin’s embassy in Havana, Nicolas Sidokpohou, expressed his country’s interest in attending the meeting and in strengthening relations with the Cuban Book Institute.

The representatives from the embassies of South Africa and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic made similar remarks as well.

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