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South African Book Fair 2014
The National Library of South Africa (NLSA) participated this year in the much anticipated South African Book Fair (SABF) which was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 13 to 15 June 2014. Staff members from both Cape Town and Pretoria campuses started with the setup of NLSA stand on the afternoon of Thursday, 12 June. The stand took the form of a 'Library Village' as the large space was shared with LIASA and the Provincial Library Services.

The SABF offered an excellent opportunity to showcase the NLSA and its work. Visitors to the NLSA stand helped themselves to various informative brochures and were assisted by friendly and knowledgeable staff.

The Centre for the Book (CFB) displayed the Reprint of South African Classics in Indigenous Languages, Community Publishing Programme books and its pamphlet series and guides for writers. The CFB also hosted round table discussions and storytelling sessions.

On Friday 13 June, at 12:00–13:00, the CFB Executive Head, Mr Matyumza, led the round table discussion: 'Increasing readership in African Languages: do we have what it takes?'. The members of the panel were: Ms Thenjiswa Ntwana; Mr Xolisa Tshongolo; Dr Sebolelo Mokapela and Fikiswa Magqashela. NLSA CEO Prof Rocky Ralebipi-Simela presented the vote of thanks. The session agreed that:
  • there should be awareness campaigns to promote and instill love for reading;
  • authors should be mindful of what they write on the blurbs of their books and take note of the content that would appeal to the readership;
  • tertiary institutions should also play a vital role in promoting indigenous languages and not be rigid in terms of introducing technology.
On Saturday the CFB held a storytelling session from 12:00 – 13:00 facilitated by Mr Mandla Mona. Nobuhle Ketelo and Archie Sopazi displayed their breathtaking performances. The session was very interesting and attracted a bigger audience than anticipated. It was graced by the presence of the former NLSA CEO, Mr John Tsebe, and the current NLSA CEO, Prof Ralebipi-Simela, who both seemed to enjoy the session very much.

On Sunday at 10:00 - 11:00, the CFB hosted a second round table discussion facilitated by Mr Matyumza on the topic: 'Publishing in African Languages; do we have authors and publishers anyway?' Members of the panel were Mr Siphiwo Mahala; Mrs Ncebakazi Saliwa-Mogale and Dr Loyiso Mletshe. Panelists agreed unanimously in their presentations that there are publishers and authors in indigenous languages. The following concerns were raised:
  • marketing, caused by financial implications;
  • the lack of political will;
  • the lack of reading interest;
  • indigenous language speakers are their worst enemies;
  • authors and publishers compete amongst themselves, however an idea of a publishing cooperative was proposed and was received positively;
  • institutions like CFB and PanSALB must do more to assist.
In the afternoon on Sunday 15 June, CFB had another storytelling session where Diana Ferrus and Isaac Makhanda performed. Isaac read a story from the book 'Horns Only' by Fatima Dada, which was enjoyed by both kids and adults. Diana Ferrus presented her famous story about Sarah Baartman. The session was well attended and was graced by three poets from Bloemfontein in the Free State. The poets were requested by the programme director, Ms Nelisa Lunika, to take the stage, which they did without hesitating. They performed beautifully and were also joined by local poet Nobuhle Ketelo.

The SABF was certainly much enjoyed by all book lovers. It was a great opportunity for libraries, publishers, booksellers and authors to display and inform the public about their products and services. We can now look forward to next year's SABF which will be held in Johannesburg.

Click here to view photos.

Nelisa Lunika and Anita Shaw, Centre for the Book



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