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Edmonton: Bakar Mansaray launches his first book in Canada

By  | 9 March 2016 at 01:46 | 3705 views

The African-Canadian community in Edmonton, Canada, on Saturday October 10, 2015, witnessed a major milestone in its literary circles. One of their own, Bakar Mansaray formally launched his first book, A Suitcase Full of Dried Fish and other stories.

The event had three parts to it: a speech by the author; a ceremonial launching of the book by the MC, and a book-signing session to conclude. It all happened in the showroom of the Century Casino and Hotel complex in the city’s northeast, with engineer Daniel Aburime, as Master of Ceremony.

Mansaray’s speech, taken in with rounds of applause, touched on his own personal life; an overview of the book itself; and excerpts from two of the tales it contains. In explaining the book’s intriguing title, the author recalled one challenging trip on a previous job he had in his birthplace, Sierra Leone. Mansaray worked as an airline steward, with the then national carrier in Sierra Leone many years ago. He said the experience inspired the title story. People laughed and clapped approvingly as the writer shared a brief flashback of his own suitcase experience.

"A Suitcase full of Dried Fish’ is a collection of 12 short stories, each an impressive piece of fiction with a contemporary background. “The lesson I would like readers to take from the book is that we should try to look back and remember that there are others somewhere in the world that are worse off than you and I," the author said as he spoke to open the event.

With settings from all over the world, places like Canada, France Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, The Gambia, The UK, and his native Sierra Leone, Bakar Mansaray craftily tells his tales with humour, insight, and vivid imagination. He said that, in addition to extensive research during the actual writing, he drew much of the story plots and characters from frequent, extensive travel around the world and from meeting people from diverse cultures.

Before he became an airline employee, Bakar Mansaray (popularly known as Samory) attended school in Freetown, Sierra Leone; first at the prestigious High School, Albert Academy, and then at University of Sierra Leone’s Fourah Bay College where he graduated in Geography and French. So it is evident that his educational background also shaped key elements of his imaginary tales.

Bakar Mansaray pointed out that the recurring theme is “perseverance in times of adversity.” He cites his own ordeal as a refugee fleeing the war in Sierra Leone; having to brave big odds with his family, en route to neighbouring Guinea; before finally moving to Canada. The book has at least one story revolving around war-forced migration. Then there are stories on contemporary social trends like online dating, cultural institutions like marriage, and values like love, friendship, loyalty and gratitude.

He spoke with The Patriotic Vanguard soon afterwards, visibly proud and clearly exuding confidence and optimism about the prospects for the publication. &#8220

";It was quite a challenging experience, but I am not only glad it is now complete, I’m really proud of myself," Mansaray said. "I actually want to continue writing and publishing, to reach more and more people."

Mansaray credits many people and organizations for all the help he got along the way. Among them, he mentioned Edmonton-based establishments like Diversity Magazine, The Edmonton Journal Newspaper, Shaw TV; each as a help in promoting or publicizing his work.

On a personal note Mansaray expressed gratitude to family, friends, colleagues and well-wishers who positively contributed in various ways; including the UK-based illustrator Aruna Deen. He described Deen (fondly known as The Maestro; or Stro, for short) as a former schoolmate and a renowned artist from Sierra Leone.

In his efforts to diversify and augment worldwide access to the book and hopefully increase sales and readership, Mansaray says he has continued to work relentlessly. making contacts with bookshops in Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone Library Board, Fourah Bay College, Albert Academy, Sierra Leone Ministry of Education and Sierra Leone Museum (to be displayed for purchase by tourists and other visitors).

Here in Canada, the print copies may be purchased online at:; or at

The book is also available at Central Xpress Store, HSBC Place, 10205 – 101 Street, Edmonton, AB. Canada.

A Suitcase full of Dried Fish and other stories’ is published by PageMaster Publication Services Inc.

To order your copy of the book:

Call: 1-780-200-5541; 1-780-716-7256

Order by e-mail:

Price: CAN$14.50

Online sales: and

Thank you for your patronage

Bakar Mansaray is an award-winning writer.
He is a member of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta.