The Zimbabwe International Book Fair 2011, which ended on Saturday, attracted literature lovers of various ages and backgrounds that showed a revived interest in the reading culture.
Running under the theme “Books for Africa’s Development”, the fair opened a new chapter in the important discourse on book and policy development.
The fair opened with an intellectual Indaba conference which featured more than 18 speakers supported by Kopinor of Norway and the Norwegian Non-Fiction Writers’ and Translators’ Union, speaking on issues in which the book is paramount.
Some of the highlighted issues concerned access to resources in the case of marginalised societies, where there is need to ensure that the book reaches all societies, especially in the rural areas.
Access to role models was one of the major concepts that were also highlighted so as to model the young ones on how to become good writers.
In an interview with NewsDay ZIBF board chairperson Musaemura Zimunya said the opening conference had benefited various societies by educating them on the best way to develop mindsets on the importance of the book.
“The conference was an engagement of all stakeholders and consisted of several lectures on the importance of ensuring accessibility of resources, developmental strategies and implementing outreach programmes to develop the regeneration of the educational system,” said Zimunya.
He also added that this year the number of exhibitors had increased significantly.
“We have had quite an overwhelming number of exhibitors; we practically couldn’t cope with the numbers.”
It was quiet interesting to note that pupils from schools from outside Harare, including St Francis of Assisi and Murewa Mission, had travelled for the fair and shown great zeal and interest in literature.
Commenting on the participation of these schools, Taona Muchiya, chairperson of Zimbabwe Women Writers said: “Since the beginning of the event the young people have shown great participation and appreciation. At the conference there were at least 80 pupils from various schools participating.
“These young boys and girls had an opportunity to share important literary ideas and attach real meaning to why it is important to learn different languages and, more importantly, initiating cultural exchange programmes.”
Some of the exhibitors included Mambo Press, Lion Press and several bookshops and language learning institutions.
The Italian Embassy made its debut appearance at this book fair.
Deputy Head of Mission for Italy Feodoro Sgandurra said: “We are humbled to be part of this book fair and it is always encouraging to note the fulfilled participation of the young ones.
“Our participation is aimed at educating Zimbabweans about Italian culture and creating a cultural heritage through books, so as to attach a meaning that is authentic and understandable.”
Besides the indabas and exhibition, there was also a live-literature centre where poets, actors and readers took turns to deliver various messages on stage.