"Promoting reading, donating books, opening worlds"

08 Oct 2013

NewsDay-Writers and organisers of this year’s Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) have expressed concern over the disappearance of a reading culture in the country.

Speaking during the recently ended book fair at Harare Gardens, the writers said the disappearance of a reading culture in the country had negatively affected their royalties.

Beatrice Sithole, an author of five books, said most well-known Zimbabwean writers have failed to make a living through writing books due to lack of a reading culture which needs to be cultivated and nurtured among young people.

Jesesi Mungoshi, wife of renowned writer Charles Mungoshi, added that her husband’s works are not even generating reasonable royalties from publishers.

Jesesi said despite the fact that they are publishing Mungoshi’s works, they were still working with publishers and thinks that it will be good if they increased royalties’ percentage from 10%.

However, some writers like Musaemura Zimunya felt that the economic woes are to blame for lack of a reading culture in the country.

Sithole, author of the novel The Best Things In Life Are For Free, said she can’t blame the economy because people are buying food at fast foods outlets, but find it difficult to purchase a $5 book.

Sithole said parents are to blame for lack of a reading culture as everything in life begins at home.

“In Zimbabwe, I don’t think the parents are doing enough to teach the children about reading because everything starts from home,” Sithole said.

But, Kundai Donzvora, one of the youths who attended the book fair, defended young people being blamed for not reading much saying they just don’t read anything that comes their way.

“People of my age . . . we want (to read) things that intrigue us. We are not moved by just holding a book in front of us. That does not convince us to read. They (authors and booksellers) need to do more to capture our minds,” Donzvora said.

Babra Mupingo, one of the book sellers representing Innov8, agreed that the reading culture is deteriorating saying it was due to social activities like the Internet.

“Reading culture is deteriorating especially in the black communities. We have noticed it from our bookshops — in areas like Kamfinsa, Arundel, Avondale where the white community is broader — the reading culture is much higher compared to our bookshops in the city centre where it is difficult to get much sales,” Mupingo said.

Zimunya, who is also ZIBF chairman, attributed the low turnout at the book fair to the change of dates and the economic crunch being experienced in the country.

Traditionally, the book fair is held in August, but this year it was shifted when it clashed with the hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s general assembly.