Tuesday 13 November 2012
The opening ribbon cut by a young girl from Agla © AAD
The opening ribbon cut by a young girl from Agla © AAD
The first readers of the Melchior Leridon library © AAD
The first readers of the Melchior Leridon library © AAD

In response to the UN Millennium Development Goals, African Artists for Development (AAD), in partnership with the Fondation Zinsou, will inaugurate the first library for young people to be established in the Agla neighborhood, in Cotonou, tomorrow at 11am. The inauguration of this library, named “Bibliothèque Melchior Leridon”, will be followed in 2013 with the renovation of two other libraries as part of the AAD project “The Beautiful Libraries of Benin”.


The ceremony will take place in the presence of the Beninese Ministers of Youth and of Culture, the honorable Mr. Daplogan and Mr. Abimbola, as well as the French Ambassador to Benin, Jean-Paul Monchau, and the Co-Presidents of AAD, Gervanne and Matthias Leridon.


This library, planted in the underprivileged neighborhood of Agla, will be entirely dedicated to granting Beninese youth access to reading.


Access to universal education, and particularly literacy, have been clearly prioritized by the United Nations through their Millennium Development Goals, set for 2015. Convinced that reading is a linchpin of development, African Artists for Development (AAD) will place more than 1,200 publications at the disposal of children and adolescents of Cotonou to be accessed free of charge, an important investment in the city’s youth.


Through reading, a genuine portal to development, AAD has committed itself to making the readers of today into the citizens of tomorrow. As the Co-Presidents of AAD state, “there is better means of emancipation and of dreaming than books. Because we are convinced that development is not efficient or sustainable if it is not meaningful, we are today very proud to contribute to universal access to reading”.


This initiative has been encouraged by the success of the AAD project “Les Bulles de Bukavu” (“Bukavu Speech Bubbles”), and unprecedented HIV awareness campaign spearheaded by the largest comic distribution ever carried out in Africa (100,000 copies).


Because for AAD, sustainable human development necessitates cultural commitment, each of their projects mobilizes a contemporary African artist who, by creating an original work linked to the project at hand, greatly increases its influence and roots the action in time. It is in this vein that AAD handed over to Zinkpè, a Beninese visual artist, the creation of the library’s central feature, a hanging mobile, the first point of contact between young readers and contemporary art, a relationship that will be sure to evolve over the years.


This first library is named “Melchior Leridon” after the oldest son of AAD’s founders, to insist on the necessity to create links between Beninese and French children.