For a nation, reading is a gateway to a different, better future. A winning nation actively promotes reading.
Reading books is not just an enjoyable past time. It is an integral part of our struggle to be a free and prosperous nation.”
These are the words spoken by the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa during his engagement with young people about the importance of reading at Harare Library in Khayelitsha.
We meet here today at the premier launch of the sixth National Book Week campaign….Hash tag Going Places…..Hash tag Buy a Book…which forms an integral part of the Heritage Month activities.
This year’s Heritage Month theme is “Our indigenous knowledge, our heritage: Towards the identification, promotion and preservation of South African’s living heritage.”
South Africans are socially diverse, yet are united by their love for our country. It is through reading that we will continue to ensure that our diversity and unique heritage unite us as a nation. Reading will take us on a journey to discover who are we as a people and embrace our diversity.
Reading statistics report that only 14% of the South African population are active book readers, and a mere 5% of parents read to their children and over half of South African households (51%) do not have a single leisure reading book.
National Book Week is an important initiative in encouraging the nation to value reading as a fun and pleasurable activity, and to showcase how reading can easily be incorporated into one’s daily lifestyle.
Hence we deemed it fit that we continue to strengthen our partnership with the South African Book Development Council (SABDC) as we instil a culture of reading, with a strong focus on promoting indigenous languages, local authors as well as library awareness and access.
The Department of Arts and Culture working together with the Library Association of South Africa (LIASA) and the National Library of South Africa have just hosted successfully the 81st International Federation of Libraries Association (IFLA) conference in Cape Town.
The IFLA meeting recommitted to promote high standards of provision and delivery of library and information services, to encourage widespread understanding of the value of good library & information services and to represent the interests of their members throughout the world.
For the first time IFLA conference was preceded by the Pre Conference Ministerial meeting for African Ministers of Culture and Library Services wherein we adopted a Declaration in which we committed to:
- Provide the necessary resources for the development of African libraries to respond to modern day challenges and provide access to emerging technologies;
- Support the establishment of a Pan African library organisation to provide a platform for networking and resource mobilisation;
- Encourage the sharing of skills, collection and preservation of African stories from our own communities;
Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania once said “reading is not a way to escape poverty, it is a way of fighting it.” What the great teacher Mwalimu meant was that with a knowledgeable and informed nation we could redirect the frontiers of poverty in our society.
This year, we have built a strong partnership with the Department of Basic Education, so that the National Book Week becomes a truly national campaign that is embraced by all South Africans, the education sector, religious and spiritual leaders and of course the non-governmental sector which should be at the forefront of making South Africa a reading nation.
The importance of reading in order to achieve success in life is foundational for the individual and essential for nation building and social cohesion. The Department of Arts and Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) strategy recognises the power of the book sector to contribute to job creation, poverty reduction, skills development and, above all, economic growth.
Thus as such, the National Book Week is a strategic intervention to promote a reading culture that will enhance the prominence and socio-economic impact of the South African books sector both locally and globally.
The 2015 National Book Week will be an exciting and vibrant week as we are getting people to read and getting more books to South Africans.
- Visit your local Bargain Books or Exclusive Books stores and participate in the #BUYABOOK campaign, at a minimal cost of R2O and donate it to others. It aims to create better-informed and self-reliant communities by investing in the literacy of young people and underprivileged adults.
- #GOINGPLACES, reflects the physical journey of National Book Week travelling throughout South Africa, as well as the magic of books and how reading books can both figuratively and literally take you places.
This campaign, which primarily aims to encourage book reading, targets adults, children, youth and students, as well as librarians, teachers, parents and caregivers.
The bus campaign continues to be an integral part of the National Book Week which will criss-cross the country with our reading ambassadors and story tellers as well as activities such as a toy library, poetry, workshop and a mascot called Funda Bala who will distribute books to children.
We are eternally grateful to the book sector and business sector for providing books at Bargain Books, Exclusive Books, Pan Macmillan, SA Penguin, Random House SA and NB Publishers as part of this partnership of the BUYABOOK campaign together with the South African book Development Council.
I am well aware that we are at the pilot stage but I think learning from this joint effort perhaps we are beginning a new movement of book distribution and an upsurge of new audiences and readers.
Hash tag …GOINGPLACES Hash tag…..BUYABOOK
I thank you.