The fate of Chad’s oldest bookstore, “La Source,” hangs in the balance as it grapples with numerous challenges, including empty shelves and unpaid staff for several months. The management is actively seeking solutions, including a potential “heartfelt campaign” in the coming days to rescue the bookstore.
When “La Source” was established in 1951, N’Djamena was still known as Fort Lamy. The bookstore boasted around 30,000 volumes, featuring not only French literary classics but, more importantly, works by African authors, as well as daily and weekly publications from 1951 to 2017. It has three outlets, one of which is located in the interior of the country. However, today, the bookstore teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, with most employees enduring three months of unpaid wages. Marius Ngarta Ngaryengue is the director.
“We’ve almost lost all our potential customers. It’s as if Chadians have stopped reading. We’ve seen a proliferation of street vendors. Tender opportunities are becoming scarcer. Today, we’re not far from closure. Because this suffering is not inherent to La Source.”
Sosthène Mbernodji, a French professor, is the organizer of the literary festival “Le Souffle de l’Harmattan.” He believes that if La Source were to shutter, it would have negative repercussions for Chad’s entire education system. “All intellectuals must stand up, and we must even consider sustainable solutions. If nothing is done, this closure will have a detrimental impact on Chad’s education system.”
The bookstore hopes to receive support from the Ministry of Culture. A fundraising campaign may be launched in the coming weeks to save Chad’s oldest bookstore.