When money defeats culture .. Khartoum’s heartbreaks over the closing of the “Maroe” library on its golden jubilee | culture

Khartoum – Even the books with torn covers, the owners of the ancient Sudanese “Maroe Book Shop” bookshop were keen to carry them and hand the place empty. The torn papers that some of them have are things that must be disposed of; It means a lot to its people who smell the fragrant smell.

However, the papers of books written by authors from all over the world could not withstand the securities, and for this and others, the Sudanese “Maroe Book Shop” library was closed after it had been operating since 1952.

Hasrat Khartoum

In the year in which the “Maroe Book Shop” library is supposed to celebrate its golden jubilee, and the intellectuals celebrate 50 years of publishing, knowledge and enlightenment, Khartoum wakes up to the news of the closure of the library and heartbreak settles in the hearts of the people of culture, and “of course the closure of a library in general is sad.” With this, writer and journalist Rashid Mustafa Bakhit begins his talk to Al Jazeera Net.

“But the closure of a library like the Meroe Book Shop has a deep symbolism, as it is part of the memory of the urban planning of the city, when the book and the publishing industry were both parts of the culture of the city dweller and a sign of it. Their disappearance is the disappearance of an important sign of the ancient city.”

Researcher Rashid Mustafa Bakhit: Closing a library like the Marwa Book Shop has deep symbolism (communication sites)

Newspapers and websites were buzzing with talk about the library, its history, its founder, Iskandar Fahmy, his firm relationship with the book, and the city’s lack of an important radioactive center. There were many accounts of the reason for the closure.

Al Jazeera.net asked Fahmy Iskandar, son of the library’s founder, about the reason for the closure. He replied, “Since 2010 we have been in the courts until the eviction order was issued in 2017, and we moved to the basement, which was stored, and now a new owner of the building came and gave us a period of time to evict and we did after that. There was no other way. “.

And the matter was more painful for publishers, companions of the path and colleagues of the profession, and Nour Al-Huda Muhammad – Secretary-General of the Sudanese Publishers Union and member of the Executive Committee of the Arab Publishers Union – stated, “Moury has a library that has its mark and its founder is a man who gave a lot to his country. She became dependent on the book and its manufacture.

Muhammad added to Al-Jazeera Net, “while recalling that it is not the first important libraries to be closed, and it will not be the last unless the state takes notice.” What is financial is very important.”

fire running

It is clear that the publishing market is not what it used to be. In Sudan, crises are increasing and publishing problems are increasing. What portends the spread of fire to other libraries.

In his testimony, Fahmy Iskandar refers to the publishing problems faced by Marwa Book Shop, including “the large number of fees that the state collects from libraries, and these fees increase the cost. In addition, fluctuating currency rates make the book a loser in many cases, but the biggest concern is piracy.” Books that have become a sleepless obsession.” The illegal copying of books in Sudan (piracy) is active, eroding the copyright and publisher’s rights.

We asked the Secretary-General of the Publishers Association about piracy, and about the role of official agencies in exposing it. Muhammad replied, “Piracy of books is spoken publicly, and the state knows, and some pirates even hold licenses from the ministry. It is a cancer that will destroy the rights of the author and publisher and lead to the closure of more houses.”

He continued, considering that piracy – and in particular illegal printing – happens a lot, including well-known titles that neither the author nor the publisher – who bore the burden of establishing a publishing house and contracts with writers and others – benefit from it, and even this stolen book competes with the original copy of the house and achieves a higher sales percentage From the original book.

Muhammad mentioned other problems that hit the Sudanese publishing industry, including that “the Sudanese book has deposit fees and an international number fee, and when you participate in it in an international exhibition, an issued fee is paid, and if the book is not sold, customs fees are paid upon its return (again), as well as many other fees.” Without the ministry supporting the book or the publishing process with any amount… In short, when the ministry is dependent on the book, what do you expect?

Secretary of the Publishers Association, Nour Al-Huda, the networking sites
Secretary of the Publishers Union, Nour Al-Huda Muhammad, says that the Marawi Library is not the first important library to be closed (communication sites)

Societal and governmental roles

Some believe that there is a societal role towards cultural institutions that struggle to survive by fighting negative phenomena such as the forged book, but Nour Al-Huda reduces this role, and says, “Readers will sympathize with the role that formed their awareness and was part of their history when it was closed, but they will only provide this feeling. Most of them are crushed and worried about the loaf of bread and the medicine bill.”

The basic reliance remains on what state agencies can provide, and at least stop collecting them if they are unable to provide anything, continues the Secretary of the Publishers Union.

But it does not seem that providing something for publication or culture in general is the focus of the politicians’ thinking, according to Bakhit’s opinion, because “there is a severe shortage of this sensitivity among the Sudanese political elite, and writers and the publishing industry will not find necessary care or planning from them.”

Bakhit believes that “in general, the culture and book industry and its marketing remained two things that belong to the community of readers.”

The decay and dependence of culture

On the other hand, writer and journalist Hatem al-Kinani believes that state institutions are the main reason, calling them in retreat. He added, “It is basically a state problem. The retreat of state institutions has led to the lack of cultural economies in the country.” Al-Kinani mentions that cultural products constitute an estimated percentage of the total production in civilized countries, while the cultural act is fought in Sudan as a result of the lack of interest in it at best.

Observers believe that the cultural reality has deteriorated for decades, and the first manifestations of its deterioration is its dependence on politicians instead of being the problem for political awareness, and the observer of the Sudanese cultural scene can notice this deterioration or what some describe as fading if it wasn’t for the occasional moment.

Al-Kinani says, “We are not living with decay because the Sudanese state, with its fragile institutions, did not allow culture to flourish at first. Rather, culture was a tool for political promotion and a slogan rather than an actor in society.”

But this little that some institutions are trying to make and strive to do is intellectuals who are threatened with danger in a capital with a cultural history, and with his long experience in the cultural field in Sudan, Nour al-Huda sees dark days on the horizon, and he says, “We are moving towards cultural decay quickly, unless we have a government that knows the value of The book and the importance of culture.

Some may consider culture as a luxury in a country whose population threatens many problems, but of course it is not like that for its people, but rather it is the solution to other problems, and this is what Bakhit reported, saying, “With all this situation that does not portend well, let me tell you that the future is not Its existence is outside the culture of the library and in the bellies of books.”

Hatem al-Kinani links cultural prosperity to political stability and a government that is aware of the value of things. He says, “We have to wait for political and economic stability until culture returns to some of its vitality.”

Maybe the sun will shine

Despite the darkness of the scene, hope still touches the hearts of those who transmit it to others.

Bakhit concludes his testimony by saying that “despite the fierce attacks, the systematic targeting and the deliberate neglect of libraries, publishing houses and book fairs, the book remained in one way or another, and culture and its initiatives continued to grow under the soil of all this debris.”

Returning to the starting point of the conversation from the Gate of Hope, we asked Fahmy Iskandar about the possibility of returning “Maroe Book Shop.” He said, “The smell of books reminds me of my father. The Maroui Book Shop was his life’s project, so it is necessary to reopen it in a new location, despite my belief that it is an emotional decision. Can we live without emotions?! This is the least we can do for my father’s soul and for the library goers.”