Celebrating World Book and Copyrights Day


APRIL 23 marks World Book Day — a day set aside to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. Each year, celebrations take place all over the world to recognise the scope of books, a link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures. I have always argued that books are a form of generational legacy and in the context of Africa have largely promoted cross-cultural pollination and should be embraced for the role they play in shaping cultures and customs.

 On this occasion, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and three major sectors of the book industry — publishers, booksellers and libraries — select the World Book Capital for a year to maintain through their own initiatives, the impetus of the celebrations.

The director-general of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay has named Accra (Ghana) as UNESCO World Book Capital for 2023 following the evaluation of the World Book Capital Advisory Committee. Last year’s event was held in Mexico.

The city of Accra was selected for its strong focus on young people and their potential to contribute to the culture and wealth of Ghana. Accra’s proposed program seeks to use the power of books to engage young people as an effective way of skilling up the next generation.

The theme for this year is focused on promoting Indigenous Languages with last year marking the beginning of the Indigenous Languages Decade (2022-2032) with the UN’s top priority being to uphold and promote linguistic diversity and multilingualism.

The origins of World Book and Copyrights Day

April 23 is a symbolic date in World Literature as this is the date on which several prominent authors, William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso and de la Vega all died. This day was a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference held in Paris in 1995 to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone to access books.

By championing books and copyrights, UNESCO stands up for creativity, diversity, and equal access to knowledge with work across the board — from the creative cities of the Literature network to promoting literacy and mobile learning and advancing open access to scientific knowledge and educational resources.

With the active involvement of all stakeholders, authors, publishers and teachers, librarians, the public and private institutions, humanitarian NGO’s and the mass media and all those who feel motivated to work together in celebration of books and authors, World Book and Copyrights Day has become a platform to rally together millions of people across the world to cities designated as UNESCO World Book Capital to undertake to promote books and reading for all ages and population groups, within and across national borders, and to organize a programme of activities for the year.

As the 23rd city to bear the title since 2001, Accra follows Guadalajara (2022) and Tbilisi (2021). Past capitals include Madrid (2001), Alexandria (2002), New Delhi (2003), Anvers (2004), Montreal (2005), Turin (2006), Bogota (2007), Amsterdam (2008), Beirut (2009), Ljubljana (2010), Buenos Aires (2011), Erevan (2012), Bangkok (2013), Port Harcourt (2014), Incheon (2015), Wroclaw (2016), Conakry (2017), Athens (2018), Sharjah, (2019) and Kuala Lumpur (2020).

The UNESCO World Book Capital Advisory Committee comprises representatives of the International Publishers Association (IPA), the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), the International Authors Forum (IAF), and UNESCO.

 Of the almost 7,000 existing languages – many of which are fast disappearing – the majority are spoken by indigenous peoples who represent the greater part of the world’s cultural diversity.

Article was compiled from the UNESCO Website https://www.unesco.org/en/articles/accra-named-unesco-world-book-capital-2023

  • Fungayi Antony Sox works at TisuMazwi – a communication-centered social enterprise specialising in books, education and storytelling projects for emerging brands. He writes in his personal capacity. For feedback contact him on 0776 030 949, connect with him on LinkedIn on Fungayi Antony Sox or follow him on Twitter @AntonySox.


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