Stanely Mushava Arts Correspondent
THE Zimbabwe International Book Fair roared to life on Monday with a mix of hindsight and fresh developments under the banner “[email protected]: Enabling Creativity, Writing, Publishing and Reading for Africa’s Growth.”
Scores of authors, publishers, readers and academics converged at this year’s edition. It will be running until October 5. Highlights of the fair include the Indaba, Writers’ Workshop, Young Persons Indaba, Traders’ Day, the Literary Evening, Live Literature Centre and exhibitions.
“This year’s theme captures the spirit of our celebration for having been in existence for the past 30 years as proudly the authentic book fair of Africa and in accordance with the vision of the founding fathers of this Pan-African event,” ZIBF Chairman Musaemura Zimunya said in his welcome note.
“Over this period, ZIBF has been hosting Africa’s literary heroes and putting on display the best there is in African publishing, in addition to creating a market for publishers on Traders’ Day,” he said.
The fair was officially opened by Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora who pledged Government support for the book sector.
Minister Dokora encouraged writers to adopt a boldly Pan-Africanist outlook and counter the onslaught against indigenous values through foreign texts. “The call therefore is not just for texts but more appropriate literature and more appropriate interventions. You could consider appropriateness in terms of age, orientation, preponderance of Afroscapes in subject matter, the ethos of unhuism present in text, and of course readability scores including the product’s flexibility for inclusion under our e-learning,” Minister Dokora said.
Minister Dokora promised stimulus packages for the embattled publishing industry, chiefly the Literature Bureau.
Keynote speaker Phyllis Johnson, who was ZIBF founding co-director along with her husband David Martin and great Zimbabwean writer Charles Mungoshi, took delegates down the memory lane, from the inception of the book fair in 1983 to the present.
“The vision grew out of a simple question by then Prime Minister Robert Gabriel Mugabe who wanted to know what publishers were doing to bridge the communication gap on a continent where writers of literature wrote mostly in the colonial languages, with a few exceptions and could not read each other’s work.
“The point was that to increase understanding, co-operation and development in Africa, the barriers of language had to be bridged,” she said
Johnson recounted the highlights of the formative years including presentations by acclaimed African authors Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwenzi, Micere Mugo, Kole Omotoso and Ngugi WaThiongo.