Sudan’s publishers enjoy freedom after 30 years

Sudanese participation in the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) has increased this year as the country is enjoying their newfound freedom. Now, they are free from censorship.

The number of participating publishing houses has increased from two to eight, displaying several books that used to be banned.

According to them, they couldn’t participate in any international book fairs or cultural events, as the former regime allowed only publications that promoted its policies.

Hassan Saeed from University of Khartoum Publishing House said Sudanese participation in this year’s SIBF is the largest in the last 30 years.

“This is the result of the liberation of Sudanese people. Free from the thoughts of extremism and ignorance, Sudanese publishing houses are activating intellectual partnership through their participation in the SIBF.”

He pointed out that the Sudanese cultural participation in previous years were “sub-standard and intermittent”.

“Sudan is taking the right path to development, reconstruction and comprehensive renaissance,” he added.

Noor Al Huda, owner of Azza Publishing House, said that his stall has 25 distinct titles that are being displayed to the public for the first time.

These include an encyclopaedia on diversity by Dr Amr Mohamed Abbas and a series that examines the abilities and development of women.

Among the other previously banned books were Sex and Sexuality of the Sudanese Woman by Dr Fatima Babiker and My Heart on My Country by Dr Ali Abdel Kader.

Al Huda believed that the diversity of Sudan was brought about by African, Nubian and Arab civilisations coming together, producing distinctive literature.

Seated behind an endless line of tables at the Expo Centre, 1,502 authors from around the world have simultaneously signed their books at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), setting a new Guinness World Record.

One of the highlights of this year’s SIBF, the event clinched the title for the world’s largest book-signing ceremony in one location, beating the previous record set by 1,423 authors in Turkey.

Amid thousands of cheering visitors at the fair, the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) received the Guinness World Record certificate from the organisation’s representatives on Thursday evening.

“This event is another step forward for Sharjah in the Arab and global cultural arena – an outstanding intellectual and creative achievement to be remembered as fruit of Sharjah’s efforts of promoting a love of books and reading for more than 40 years,” Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of the SBA, said at the record-breaking event.

“This achievement is yet another endorsement of the efforts of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, in placing books, culture and knowledge at the heart of our society.”

He added that the feat was extra special, considering that it was done during a year when Sharjah is celebrating its recognition as Unesco World Book Capital 2019.

“We thank all the authors, publishers and volunteers for enabling us to attain this world record, an Emirati achievement that will go down in history,” he said.

Snaking from one end of the Sharjah Expo Centre to the other – and up and down isles and corridors – were row upon row of seats and tables set up for the participating authors and their books.

Al Fatih Jabra – a Sudanese author who took part in the ceremony by signing his book titled Additional Income – said he was excited to be part of a “historic event”.

“It was an amazing idea organised by the SIBF, and it was an honour for me to sign my book among the massive gathering of great authors from around the world. I never expected that one day, I will be part of an event that would enter Guinness World Records,” he said.

Mujeeb Jaihoon, who signed his book Slogan of the Sage, didn’t expect that his scheduled book-signing would be part of a big event.

“This will be one of the greatest achievements in my life and will definitely make my children and grandchildren proud,” he said.


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