You’ll love diving into African Literature with Bootleg Griot


Dubai, a multicultural hub which is buzzing with cultural and art activity, now has it’s first moving public African library. Bootleg Griot is a literary dive into the African diaspora. Bootleg Griot is a space with open doors, where you can walk in and learn and indulge in the richness of African literature, along with the free workshops and engaging events.

The idea for Bootleg Griot was born out of the passion to create a space where people can connect and gain knowledge and information about African literature in a third space. Two young Nigerian men, Ose Ekore and Abdulazeez Fawaz, founded this brilliant idea and worked alongside a talented team, Nini and photographer Nathaniel Enriquez. They have been co-running the library independently, with support from the community, keeping this initiative alive. Bootleg is a safe space for anyone to join, with Nini emphasizing, ‘’ This is a third space where you are free from expectations. You can leave your house and not spend money, and you can expect immaculate vibes because they always are. ‘’

 It’s permanent location is in the artistic neighbourhood of Al Quoz, where you can enjoy browsing through the unique selection of books from African authors and enjoy art work in Efie Gallery. ‘’ We noticed the absence of spaces where books and media for our community were present without a paywall, we want to create a place where people can read and work without feeling the need to buy something or look a certain way, ” Ose said.

It bridges the gap in Dubai, where free, relaxing places aren’t easy to find. It’s a place to unwind and connect while simultaneously being introduced to an array of free knowledge. Fawaz, one of the co-founders, said, ‘’ Bootleg Griot is a moving Library centred around African literature, it’s what drives all of our projects. We aim to make information accessible to our immediate community. ‘’

Bootleg’s Griots installations at local events, such as Ramadan Nights at Jameel Arts Centre and Stay A Little longer at Alserkal Avenue are an immersive and ambient experience, taking you into the world of the African diaspora. There’s rhythmic music ringing in the air, eye-opening and thought-provoking conversations and usually a specially curated selection of books. Its experienced immense growth, looking back Nathaniel said, ”We started off as a shelf at Jameel and I’m grateful for how far we’ve come.”

Previously the library has had collaborations with other creative institutes in Dubai such as the Africa Institute, showing it’s growth since officially opening in 2022. The Bootleg Griot isn’t solely focused on books, but rather provides multiple avenues for the public to come and learn without high costs. Fawaz said, ‘’I think we’re being open to other ways in which you can share knowledge, such as bookbinding and conversations influenced by our themes and surroundings.’’ For art, film, photography and culture lovers, Bootleg Griots is a perfect place to visit, there are various film screenings, talks and vinyl listening throughout the year.

Its purpose is to serve the public and create an inexpensive education for everyone and a place to spark conversation based on common interests.  ‘’This is a comfortable space for you to meet new people, read a book and enjoy a broad range of public programmes around film, photography,’’ Ose said. Through the programmes encouraging communal conversations and knowledge sharing, this cool initiative is creating a space where knowledge is free.

The backbone of Bootleg Griot is the community and it’s vital support. Your support and engagement is essential to keep this non-profit initiative running . Fawaz said that, ‘’With the Library being very tied to the community, the things we do have a home. We would appreciate funding, support and engagement.”

If you’re interested in exploring the library or curious about all the cool events you can attend, stay updated on all the programmes happening by following their social media page. To support this initiative, pay the library a visit at Efie Gallery.

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