An exciting new Pan-African collaboration has been ignited for the SA Book Fair which will take place as a virtual event from September 11-13.
“Africa’s stories are the new gold and are potentially a significant wealth generator for the continent,” says SA Book Development Council CEO Elitha van der Sandt.
“When the Covid-19 pandemic struck and we had to quickly reimagine how to present our national book fair in the virtual space, we began thinking about how we could use this moment to materialise a continental strategy for Africa’s book industries.
“Working together with other national fairs in developing, promoting and improving the reading culture among Africans – and to share #ourstories – is a core aim of the fair, and this year presents a unique moment to further that goal,” Van der Sandt says.
The initiative aims to create a collaborative, co-ordinated approach towards better promotion of local, African-owned and controlled book production industries, as well as the exchange of writers, illustrators and storytellers on the continent’s national book fair platforms.
To kickstart this collaboration, African Publishers Network hosted a meeting on July 22 with the chairspersons, book fair directors and executives of other national book fairs in Africa.
The first real result is the participation in each other’s virtual book fairs by Nigeria (September 1-7), SA (September 11-13) and Kenya (September 24-27).
The SA Book Fair will also exhibit at the Nigerian International Book Fair and vice versa.
The virtual programme will feature a discussion on book development in Africa between Van der Sandt and Ernesticia Lartey Asuinura, executive director of the Ghana Book Development Council, with the session moderated by African Publishers Network chairperson Samuel Kolawole.
A panel discussion on furthering the literary aspect of the Pan-African collaboration takes place on September 12 at 2.30pm.
It will be titled “Giving Books a Place of Pride in Africa: The Role of Literary Journals on the Continent” and will feature Remy Ngamije, editor of Namibia’s first literary magazine, Doek!, Jennifer Malec of The Johannesburg Review of Books, Troy Onyango, editor of Kenyan literary magazine Lolwe and Dr Ainehi Edoro-Glines, founder and editor of African literary blog Brittle Paper.
Kenya-based James Murua, of James Marua’s African Literature blog, will moderate as the panel discuss gaps that necessitated the creation of their diverse literary journals, and the challenges and opportunities available in the literary space.
Several African authors are also taking part in the SA fair, among them award-winning Nigerian writer Chike Frankie Edozien (Lives Of Great Men), who will join South Africans Mark Gevisser (The Pink Line) and Jamil F Khan, (Khamr: The Makings of a Waterslams) to discuss past, present and future LGBTQ+ frontiers on September 13 at 12pm.