All set for ZIBF

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ONE of the stereotypes spread by the whiteman is that blacks do not like to read and to perpetuate the stereotype, they coined the expression; ‘If you want to hide something from a black person, put it in a book’.
The Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) is one event that has demystified this colonial mentality by religiously holding the annual event that brings together writers.
The ZIBF was first held in 1983 in Harare and has been one of the main book fairs on the continent.
The fair is an important meeting point for publishers, writers, poets and translators.
Scores visit the ZIBF every year, a reflection of the keen interest black people have in books.
However, in recent years, the fair has not been spared from the effects wrought by the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Britain and her allies.
The fair, it seems, has not, in recent times, been able to attract funds to restore its yesteryear glory.
Organisers must, however, be commended for taking various initiatives such as decentralising the fair with mini-fairs being held in Mutare, Bulawayo and Masvingo.
At its peak, the fair attracted great names such as Chiuna Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Ngugi wa Mirii and Wole Soyinka, among other notable authors both local and international.
This year’s edition of the ZIBF in July will run under the theme ‘Making the Book Pay’.
According to a statement released by Blazio Tafireyi the executive chair of ZIBF, the fair will run for six days.
“We are pleased to announce that the dates for ZIBF have been set for July 31 to August 5 2017 while the indaba conference is slated for July 31 and August 1,” reads part of the statement.
The indaba conference has become one of the major highlights of the fair where pertinent issues to do with the book industry are discussed.
Over the years, a number of subjects, relevant to day-to-day needs of communities, have been tackled.
The indabas have sought, among such traits like promoting the reading culture to use books to develop and promote the growth of social, economic and political facets.
For instance, the 2008 indaba called for the promotion of tolerance and dialogue through literature.
The fair in 2008 ran under the theme ‘Promoting Tolerance and Dialogue through Literature’.
The 2015 indaba discussed the need to end mental poverty and to facilitate the birth of pan-African knowledge-based economic success.
Last year, the fair sought to ‘Ignite interest in reading for sustainable development’.
During the 2016 indaba, players in the literary sector discussed ways to save the reading culture, which stakeholders agreed, had been eroded by technological advancements.
The players cited that the booming video gaming industry and increased internet access had changed how children spent their time.
Participants agreed that technology had to be harnessed to improve the reading culture by encouraging use of e-resources to download and read books than spend time on social media platforms like facebook, Twitter and whatsapp.
Publishers and writers were also urged to take advantage of technological advances to reach their readers; while the public was encouraged to make greater use of their gadgets and go beyond gaming and social conversations using them to access constructive content.
A deep love for books has seen Zimbabwe attaining one of the highest literacy rate in Africa.
However, pundits opine that ZIBF organisers must do more to attract various stakeholders.
“We must do more to attract other stakeholders besides the academia who seem to have become the dominant participants,” said economic analyst Goden Nyambuya.
“The festival definitely needs to be revamped, especially on the side of technology. While we want the younger generations to adopt the reading culture let us present the books in formats that they are used to.”
Despite the seemingly waning of fortunes, the ZIBF remains the country’s premier platform for writers, publishers and other stakeholders to engage.
“The indaba has been a great platform of engagement and more strategies must be crafted to ensure that the interest in the book industry does not die,” said Nyambuya.
This year’s theme, Tafireyi said, spoke to the national, regional and international development agendas that include the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-ASSET), Africa Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want and United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): Transforming Our World.
Sub themes expected to be discussed at this year’s edition of ZIBF indaba include creating the Africa we want through reading, information literacy skills for the digital age and intellectual property as well as copyright law.

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