Book Café shuts down

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POPULAR arts hub Book Café — credited for the rise of many artistes among them poets, musicians and comedians — has closed shop amid a ballooning debt amassed over the years.

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO

Tomas Lutuli Brickhill, who took over the running of the business from his late father and founder Paul Roger Brickhill, said in a statement: “I have decided to take a step back in order to restrategise and restructure the business. It was a difficult decision to close the Samora Machel Avenue premises, but if Book Café is to have any place in the future of Zimbabwe’s arts and culture scene, I believe that our current course of action is unavoidable.”

Brickhill said it was too soon to speculate about where or when Book Café would be reopened.

“I am confident that in Book Café, we have one of the strongest and most respected brands in the country. I have no intention of letting this be the end of the story for Book Café, but in order for us to start writing the next chapter, we have to close the last one. Aluta continua (The struggle continues),” he said.

Sources who spoke to NewsDay said the shutting down of the joint was a result of failure to settle a huge debt dating back to the days of the operations at Fife Avenue shopping centre.

Early this year, Brickhill acknowledged to the media that the debt was hampering their prospects for development.

Several fundraising initiatives were held, but could not save the joint which was reportedly struggling to clear debts of over $25 000.

Book Café was founded by Paul Brickhill back in 1997 as an expansion of his independent bookshop called Grassroots Books, set up in 1983. The hub operated at Fife Avenue shops together with a sister project, The Mannenberg. It was frequented by many famed musicians, including the late Chiwoniso Maraire, Andy Brown, Edith WeUtonga, Dudu Manhenga, Mbuya Stella Chiweshe, Busi Ncube and Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana, among many others.

Book Café is celebrated for playing a major role in the birth of stand-up comedy in the country.

Comedian Doc Vikela was given his first chance to perform on stage during an open mic session. It was at this venue that comedians Doc Vikela and Simba the Comic King established Simuka Comedy, which became the first recurrent stand-up comedy night in the country.

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  2. i think the book cafe has given birth to many well to do artists today. If there is any time or chance for these musicians, poets and comedians to give back to the joint, its now.

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