Bulawayo Book Fair returns with a bang
Beaven Tapureta Bookshelf
The Bulawayo Book Fair, one of ZIBF satellite book fairs which was held at the Large City Hall from May 26 and 27 was but a celebration of its return after a two-year hiatus and Bookshelf had the privilege to witness this “bookish” comeback. Running under the main theme “Making the Book Pay”, the Bulawayo Book Fair came with a full package of exciting theatre, exhibitions, a workshop, a book launch, and underlining evening official opening by the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Lazarus Dokora. There were other activities one could see happening at different exhibitors’ tables.
On the first day in the morning, award-winning Gifford High School drama group and the talented junior traditional dancers from Fusi Primary School showed their mettle as they opened the well-attended workshop held in the Small City Hall.
The workshop, dedicated mainly to updates on the new curriculum by the Curriculum Development and Technical Services (CDTS) and a stakeholders’ brainstorming session, had informative short ‘commercial slots’ for publishers sandwiched between presentations. What with the melodies from the duo Albert Munyanyi and Fumisai Chamboko singing their song for the new curriculum titled “Bumbiro Idzva ReDzidzo”!
Ishmael Mujaji and Dzikamayi Mandaza from CDTS explained in detail new learning areas such as physical education, sport, mass displays structure and how educational materials from authors/publishers are evaluated for various reasons such as to ascertain compliance with the syllabus.
“In some, if not all learning areas, the educational material should include appropriate and significant Zimbabwean content, context and examples to aid understanding of internationally acknowledged concepts and facts,” advised Mujaji.
His partner Mandaza, alternating pictorial examples with significant detail, took workshop participants on a journey to demystify mass displays in the new or updated curriculum. He unveiled and explained the content of the new physical and sport syllabus from ECD to Advanced Level.
Authors, publishers, booksellers, and librarians spent the whole afternoon dissecting the how-to-make-the-book-pay theme.
Speaking on behalf of authors, literary guru and publisher Pathisa Nyathi viewed “returns” which an author or a country at large can enjoy from a book as something far beyond the green buck.
“When you purchase books, you acquire access to other minds. A mind, sharp at that, is sharpened through interacting and interfacing with other minds. A book is a product of creativity, itself a mental process. A book is created in the mind and through a chain of production processes, is transformed into a form that other minds may consume,” said Nyathi.
He however acknowledged the need to also understand the “heavy investment in a book” and the expected returns for everyone who would have committed to such an investment.
The booksellers were represented by Felix Moyo and he spoke on “How the Book Can Realize Sales and Profits”. Librarians shared some brilliant ideas on how a library can become more effective in the book industry. Publisher Emmanuel Makadho, representing Zimbabwe Book Publishers Association, said that new challenges being met by publishers in producing a book that pays include a misunderstanding of the new curriculum by authors, the conflict arising when there are no sales and yet an author calls for higher royalties, and the high cost encountered by publishers trying to directly reach out to all customers, bypassing the deadly “briefcase booksellers” emerging in the cities. Makadho said workshops to train authors on the new curriculum are needed to solve some of the challenges.
Various exhibitors had small chats with the Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora late afternoon as he toured their displays. In his opening address, the Minister said the major achievement of his ministry was the development of the new Curriculum Framework for Primary and Secondary Education 2015-2022 which is being implemented in three phases.
“Focus is now on development of materials for phase 2 of the implementation programme for the remaining primary and secondary levels,” said the Minister.
He added that the Ministry has been working through established modalities and partners with book publishers in an effort to produce more relevant and compliant teaching and learning materials.
“We appreciate that a number of teaching and learning materials have been submitted by publishers for evaluation, several of which have been approved,” the Minister said.
On the second day the book fair did not lose its vitality as apart from ongoing exhibitions, writer Mzana Mthimkulu officially launched his new book “The Rock Strikes Back” (2017, Amagugu Publishers) in the small auditorium upstairs and another writer gracing the occasion, Nomsa Tsitsi Ngwenya, donated copies of her 2016 Ndebele novel “Izinyawo Zayizolo” to about five schools visiting the book fair.
How good it felt also to meet young librarian Marshal Chiza, a motivational speaker and author of two books “Success In No Time” and “The Poor Billionaire” which now sit in the Bookshelf like year old birds painstakingly befriending a newly hatched, differently feathered chick next to them named “Life On the Wing” by Ratidzo Zinyama (2017, Booklove Publishers).
The ZIBF is now focusing on the main Book Fair to be held in Harare in July.