/photo: Hamed Diabira ©
It is sometimes difficult to be a black man; especially because the black man does not read. It is well known, that if you want to hide something from him, you just need to put it in a book. And to take a personal example, although I lived above what was at the time the only library of the district, as a young boy, reading was first not at all my cup of tea. It was my fascination for the American cowboys that first introduced me to the universe of literature. I remember on one occasion doing a presentation in front of the whole class in primary school. My teacher who had indeed discovered my passion and how hard working I was when it came to reading books that were linked to anything dealing with cow boys, had asked me if I wanted to do a lecture to the rest of the class on the subject. Looking back, I am now telling myself that that was probably my first research and presentation.
However, on Tuesday 26th of June 2012, I discovered that I was not the only person who had first felt repulsion towards any book or text which reading was compulsory in the High School or College curriculum. At the Read meeting, which is a reading workshop taking place every two months in Paris, many others, like me, had only recently become fond of reading and writing. Unlike most black French people, who spend most of their time listening to music, dancing, getting smartly dressed, watching video clips or reading fashion magazines and bling, bling; the black people gathered at the Read meeting were all interested in finding out the secrets hidden in all books.
The room on the first floor of a trendy Parisian restaurant was full of mostly black people; boys and girls, who had come to listen, discuss and speak about a writer and his first novel.
Edgar Sekloka, the French writer of Cameroonian background we had all come to listen to, published his first book “Coffee” some four years ago. The meeting was an opportunity for him to better present his work and the state of mind in which it was written. Although few of us had really read his book, we were all eager to hear about his feelings and experience as a young writer. His move or rather his evolution from Hip Hop to short stories and then to novel was very instructive. Edgar Sekloka’s first novel which describes the journey in life of Koffi, a man of African background, contrasts in the form with his hip hop lyrics very much inspired by American artists such as Common, The roots or again Busta Rhymes. As to the spirit conveyed in his novel, I will qualify it as “real”. The different characters to whom he gives life
through the tip of his pen are all sooner or later confronted to situations any reader could have found himself involved in, at a moment in his or her own life.
Edgar Sekloka’s writing style is great! There is no doubt on that. Let’s just hope now that, just like he was first inspired by Victor Hugo -as he told us- many other black youngsters will, thanks to him, be less reluctant into finding the secrets hidden of books.