"Promoting reading, donating books, opening worlds"

Reflections on 2011 Book Fair

06 Oct 2011

Reprinted from Panorama.

Stakeholders in the book industry and literary sector believe the just ended Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) which ran from July 25-30 is on course to regaining its lustre of previous decades.

They commended the organisers for breathing life into the book fair after it had almost collapsed following the hardships the country endured as a result of the downturn in the economy.

The ZIBF bounced back with some glamour resulting in a number of international exhibitors and supporters increasing significantly.

Panorama Magazine conducted a survey on reflections by stakeholders and other groups concerned about Africa’s premier book fair. Below are excerpts from various interviews:

Albert Nyathi, Dub Poet: “I think it’s getting up again. It’s beginning to blaze again.It has been re-awakened. However, my feeling is that the Book Fair should be like a book festival.

If only we could have other Book Fairs locally in other regions which would then culminate in a major Book Fair. Again, we need more of the international participation.”

Nyathi commended the efforts by organisers of the Book Fair to include people from rural areas although he indicated that much still needed to be done,

“We had the Africa Book Development Organisation which supplies books to rural libraries and they participated at ZIBF but I think we need more of that representation.”

Noleen Mhlanga, Library assistant at the Harare City Library said: “I guess for us it’s the publicity factor because we have been afforded an opportunity to market ourselves.

The people are actually being shocked that the City Library still exists. So I think it’s an opportunity for us to let people know more about the library and the opportunities it offers. We have been able to reach out to many school pupils who are coming here with their teachers to learn.”

Knowledge Gunda, a school teacher at Nharira Primary School in Mbare, Harare said: “I think it was quite unfortunate that for the past years there was no ZIBF. From what I have observed it has now grown to become much bigger than what we had been seeing during the recent past. It’s now improved. Generally it’s good but there is also need to improve on displays of newspapers. The ZIBF should not only be about books, we also need a lot of these newspapers here to create a reading culture in our students.”

Terrence Nyamadzawo, a student from Vimbai High School, Norton said: “It’s good. Actually what’s happening in the world of books is encouraging and will boost our appetite for reading. There is a wide range of books being exhibited. It’s an extraordinary event.”

Samuel Makore, the National Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Academic and Non-Fiction Authors’ Association (Zana) said: “I think a lot still needs to be done if we are to reach the level of being an international book fair again. There is also need to ensure decentralisation of the event to cater for groups from remote areas of the country.”

– By Edgar Gweshe.