Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Sidwaya is a local paper that I tend to disdain. It is the official mouthpiece of the government here and as such, has little of interest to say. It's reasonably fair, but a bit boring. A copy only costs about 40 cents US, but even at that, they don’t sell many. Meanwhile, L’Evenement, at 500 fcfa (1$) sells like mad.
But amazingly, on Wednesday there was something REALLY interesting in the Sidwaya: a page and a half devoted to JP’s latest book! They printed a brilliant resumé of the main ideas- written by JP himself. There was also, as an added bonus, a huge picture of the author (taken by his wife out in their front yard last week.) Furthermore, it mentioned that the book would be officially “presented” at a conference on Friday afternoon.
So, as you may guess, yesterday afternoon found me at the CIRD library at the research center where JP works. They had moved all the tables aside and set up chairs…not enough chairs, as it turned out! About 60 people showed up for the presentation, so people were standing and sitting on tables. There was even a journalist from another newspaper, L’Observateur.
JP was brilliant (are we surprised?). He presented some main points of his book about land tenure among the Winyé and then made some links to current land conflicts, like the one in Kounkounfouano that I recently blogged about.

Afterwards, I stood around and watched JP sign copies of his book for his "fans". I’m married to a famous author! In fact, the library (which is selling the book) is going to have to re-order, which is very rare. So far, JP’s book is second only in sales to “Large Mammals of Western Africa” , which was their last “big” title. Woo! Not bad for a 300 page book about an obscure tribe. Everybody likes large mammals. Elephants and hippos are an easy sell. But land tenure? Good luck. But JP makes it exciting. Really! If you read French and are interested by Africa, I highly recommend it.

Tomorrow I’ll publish the last and (I promise) final instalment of my adventures in Gourcy.

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