One of SA’s longest running and most successful reading initiatives unveils its “Going Places” campaign in Johannesburg
The Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, accompanied by book sector stakeholders, marked the launch of National Book Week 2014 during an event highlighting the power of books at Emoyeni Conference Centre, Parktown, on Friday 29 August.
Capturing the essence of how books can transport you to a magical place, feed your knowledge, make you laugh – and inspire you to achieve your greatest goals – the launch of ‘Going Places’, the theme for this year’s National Book Week (NBW) featured the unveiling of the special NBW bus which will be transporting NBW ambassadors, motivational speakers, authors, storytellers and a toy library to towns from Ganyesa in the North West Province to Worcester in the Western Cape.
Now into its fifth year, National Book Week 2014 will see one of the longest running and most successful reading campaigns in South Africa travel to a record six provinces, reflecting the magic of books and how reading can ‘figuratively’ and ‘literally’ take you places.
The event, officiated by Sandile Memela, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Arts and Culture, saw Elitha Van Der Sandt, the chief executive officer of The South African Book Development Council, give the opening address.
Van Der Sandt said that “reading allows us to transcend the limitations we are born with” and pointed out that while the South African book sector amounts to R5-billion in turn over, with authors securing royalties to the value of R300m, only 14% of people in the country read – and only 1% of the population buys books.
Meanwhile, the head of SABC1, Maijang Mpherwane, spoke about the campaign’s partnership with the national broadcaster, which sees the SABC come on board as media broadcast partner for the fifth year in a row.
“As the campaign goes out there, we will use the might of the biggest channel in the country to make sure that the public is aware of National Book Week,” he said.
The Honourable Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, officially opened National Book Week.
In his keynote speech, he paid tribute to literary giant Nadine Gordimer, who passed away in July.
Minister Mthethwa pointed out that National Book Week appropriately takes place at the start of Heritage Month, which this year has as its theme, “Celebrating 20 Years of Democracy: Tell your story that moves South Africa Forward!”.
“The heightened culture of reading is a fundamental ingredient in the growth of our society….Books have the power to connect our past with our future… We have to continue to work to make reading a national priority,” Minister Mthethwa said.
The event also saw the launch of the Twenty in 20 short stories book, a collection of short stories “representing the spirit of the last 20 years of our democracy” according to Mandla Langa, novelist and chair of the Twenty in 20 judging panel.
Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, The Honourable Rejoice Mabudafhasi, also mentioned Gordimer in her speech in which she contextualised the Twenty in 20 anthology as part of the extensive history of short story telling in South Africa.
Mabudafhasi pointed out that there was a need for more diversity in local literature, highlighting the fact that while 49% of books are published in English and 45% in Afrikaans, only 6% is shared amongst the our other nine official languages.
Attended by this year’s National Book Week ambassadors including writer and activist Shaka Sisulu, artists Stoan Seate, and Bianca Le Grange, Aaron Moloisi and Lupi Ngcayisa, guests were entertained by a poetry performance by poet Paul Said and a storytelling performance by the Kwesukela Storytelling Academy with the Vote of Thanks and Closing Remarks provided by Jane Molony, the Chairperson of The South African Book Development Council (SABDC).
A highlight of the launch was the unveiling of the NBW bus, with media and guests given a chance to experience what it will feel like to travel on the vehicle, which will be criss-crossing the country to promote National Book Week.
And in keeping with the message of the power of books and how it can take you places you might only have dreamed before, 40 school children aged between six and nine years old from Eldridge Primary School who attended the event were entertained by National Book Week mascot Funda Bala and gifted with a collection of books in a specially created toy room.
- Twitter: @NBW_SA / #GOINGPLACES