On Monday morning, 2 September in Xhora Mouth, Eastern Cape, a little boy’s face lit up as he received an isiXhosa children’s book. So much so, that he grabbed the animated story, held it to his face and gave it one big kiss! Moments like this one, indicate success for National Book Week.
From the 2nd to the 8th of September 2019, the South African Book Development Council in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture instituted our 10th installment of National Book Week by inviting the public to celebrate #OURSTORIES and books during the country’s official reading awareness week. In line with UNESCO’s declaration of 2019 as “the Year of Indigenous Languages” we also hosted Indigenous Language Reading Festivals throughout the country, alongside Provincial Government Library Services and local municipalities.
With 58% of households in the country not having a single leisure reading book, our efforts are focused on areas where book-scarce homes are prevalent. From De Aar in the Northern Cape to Arlington in the Free State, our teams travelled to the furthest parts of the country taking educational games and activities, to community members and learners of all ages. The Cotlands’ toy library, Wordathon card game and FunDza mobile library are just some of activities used to inculcate a culture of reading in the hearts and minds of attendees. These days are not complete without storytelling, poetry, live music and traditional performances shared by locals.
And let’s not forget our #NBWturns10 ambassadors who touched the lives of the children in attendance by sharing how reading has greatly impacted their lives and shaped their careers. Some of our ambassadors this year included actress Mogau Mothlatwsi, hiphop artist Emile Jansen, Mrs Africa South Given Mmane, poet Mfanufikile Mbuthuma, lecturer Dr Hleze Kunju and award-winning author, Unathi Magubeni.
Through the generous donations of the Sisulu Family, New Africa Books, Copy Cat, Eskom and everyone who took part in our #BUYABOOK campaign, we were able to donate thousands of books in indigenous languages to children, teens and adults who attended the #NBWturns10 reading festivals.
Our tenth birthday would not have been the same without the support and media partnership of Caxton Local Media, whose team worked tirelessly to make sure that reading awareness was at the forefront of their #CaxtonCares initiative. Through this partnership we were able to achieve a new level of awareness and coverage for the NBW campaign.
To end off a magical week of storytelling and story sharing, #NBWturns10 went out with bang at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg where the SABDC had implemented our it’s 3rd annual South African Book Fair. The Fair opened with the sound of hundreds of school children entering the iconic building for the #SABF2019 Schools Programme on Friday the 6th of September. The weekend reverberated with emotion as people from all walks of life attended sessions, panel discussions and demonstrations on cooking, politics, publishing, illustration, travelling, justice, religion, sex, survival and sports – just to name a few. The National Book Week Magic Tent, along with our mascot Funda Bala, were once again crowd favourites with family-friendly activities taking place all weekend.
The South African Book Fair taking place at Constitution Hill provided the perfect opportunity for healing. The conversations that took place between the 110 authors (80 black, 30 white), the 41 new and emerging talent, the 21 indigenous language sessions and the 25 independent and small publishers who exhibited in our Marketplace all demonstrated the SABDC’s true commitment to transformation and development. All of this contributed to making this year’s National Book Week, our tenth anniversary, the best one yet!
We look forward to championing reading awareness for many more years to come and can’t wait to share #OURSTORIES yet again for #NBW2020!
Thank you to our stakeholders and partners, without whom NBW would not be possible:
- Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality
- Mpumalanga Province – Department of Culture, Sport & Recreation
- City of Polokwane
- Northwest Provincial Government
- Province of KwaZulu Natal – Department of Arts & Culture
- Province of Eastern Cape – Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts & Culture
- Free State Province – Department of Sports, Arts, Culture & Recreation
- Department of Sports, Arts & Culture Northern Cape
- Western Cape Government – Cultural Affairs & Sport