On Friday 13th June, Louise Ellis -Barrett attended a Somali celebration to mark the publication of Na'ima B Robert's From Somalia With Love She sent us this report:
Bringing teenagers to books is always going to be a challenge but it is one that Na’ima B Robert is happy to tackle. Na’ima has written picturebooks for young children and a novel for adults. ‘From Somalia With Love’ is written for teenagers and in doing this Na’ima has taken on the challenge of sharing the relatively unknown, very rich and often misunderstood Somali culture.
‘From Somalia With Love’ may be entirely fictional but on Friday 13th June, the first day of publication, it had already won a firm following among at least some of its intended audience. In the main hall of the Brady Arts Centre, Tower Hamlets an invited, female only, audience of around 40 people, comprising mainly teenagers, gathered for a cultural event to celebrate the launch of the book and celbrate Somali culture.
It is difficult to find the words to describe the buzz and excitement generated by the anticipation felt by all there but Na’ima’s introduction, reading and question and answer session could have continued all morning! When food and drink called the promise of a dramatisation of one of the scenes from the book by the local Youth Group lured the audience back. This was followed by some examples of traditional Somali dance, music and song that the audience were actively encouraged to participate in. In turn this was followed by the opportunity to meet the author, see some examples of Somali fashion and taste some traditional Somali food! This bought to a close a fascinating morning.
‘From Somalia With Love’ is, I hope, just the first of many books from Na'ima whose mission is to bring a love of books to children everywhere. Visit www.somalialove.com to find out more.
Thanks Na’ima for organising a great morning.