Book fair still relevant

Stephen Chifunyise

Stephen Chifunyise

Beaven Tapureta Bookshelf
Now that this year’s Zimbabwe International Book Fair has slipped into the past, exposing a terribly broken book industry, it is the psychological moment for all stakeholders to come together and re-strategise as advised at the Indaba by cultural guru Stephen Chifunyise in his keynote address.

Exhibitors at this year’s ZIBF suffered very low sales as visitors were very few as compared to previous years. However, with a wonderful theme of “Making the Book Pay!” the book fiesta came with different platforms that probed the missing link in the whole book value chain.

The two-day Indaba conference came wrapped in presentations which brought the real situation in the local and regional book industry to the open and allowing recommendations to be made which included declaring the whole book fair a National Book Week.

The Indaba’s recommendations should be made available to everyone involved in the book chain and practical steps be taken towards fulfilling the vision for a better paying book industry.

After the Indaba, the Live Literature Centre started on Wednesday, August 2, to provide entertainment. Seke Teachers College rendered beautiful mbira tunes and traditional dance, mesmerising the few school children who had visited the book fair.

The little angels from pre-schools such as Highfield and Mufakose Full Day Care Centres also showed their traditional dancing skills.

The Children’s Reading Tent this year was held in a gazebo from Thursday, August 3 to Saturday, August 5, under the auspices of the Harare City Library who are the usual resource people.

Harare City Library partnered with other organisations to hold activities such as readings, ICT related learning, and storytelling.

According to HCL Assistant Librarian Takwana Masunda, the HCL has joined hands with ZIBF to hold fortnightly events for children in the Harare Gardens. This will help boost reading culture among young people.

While the CRT, Live Literature Centre and exhibitions were running, a Librarians’ Workshop was also held on Friday August 4 at the National Art Gallery by the Zimbabwe Library Association (ZIMLA) under the theme “How Librarians Make the Book Pay”.

This was no doubt a necessary workshop because the book chain cannot do without librarians. It happened that on August 1, Bookshelf had attended another librarians’ workshop independent of the book fair and held in Harare to see how academics can ‘transform the research experience” by using the e-book.

Libraries, as can be concluded, are centres where the book pays the reader more with vital information and knowledge.

One of the interesting presentations made at the ZIBF librarians’ workshop was by McDonald Nhakura who spoke at length about making the book pay through career guidance.

He identified the library as playing a very important role in career guidance before and after a baby is born. On Saturday, August 5, the Writers’ Workshop held at the National Art Gallery was another package of emotions and ideas as writers discussed issues affecting their writing job.

Chaired by writer Nomsa Tsitsi Ngwenya and running under the theme “Writing the Book That Pay”, the workshop had five presenters Jenny Yon, Aaron Chiundura Moyo, Reggemore Marongedze, Virginia Phiri and Dr. Samuel Makore.

Yon who had been writing and publishing for children for the past years spoke about the need for writers to have endurance, assistance, and patience particularly at this time when things are hard.

As a textbook author, Yon said she is pleased with the change that has taken place in the education system, that is, the introduction of the new curriculum.

A lecturer and literary critic, Marongedze said writers have a duty because literature cannot be divorced from societal realities.

Academics, he said, use literature in their researches and therefore writers have a responsibility because people can know who they are through books.

Chiundura Moyo condemned unprofessionalism in the publishing sector in which feedback from publishers about royalties in hard to come by.

He also decried book piracy but said there is hope now that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has directed schools to stop photocopying books.

Phiri shared her first-hand experience as a self-published author and encouraged fellow writers to consider the hard route she took in order to run away from ‘oppressive’ contracts with certain publishers.

Dr Samuel Makore’s presentation challenged authors to carefully read their contracts and not fall prey to selfish publishers.

Just as the Indaba and librarians’ gathering, the writers’ workshop in the end came up with recommendations which if considered well, will boost our local book industry.

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