Authors renew calls to fight piracy to save book industry

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World Book and Copyright Day was celebrated in Nairobi with stakeholders renewing calls for an end to piracy to spur growth in the book industry.

Authors, illustrators, publishers, booksellers and library managers who attended a dinner event noted that piracy discouraged authors from writing more books.

They lamented that pirated content and products have flooded the market with shoddy books and resulted in the loss of jobs for most professionals in the book publishing industry.

The event was the culmination of an inaugural four-day MOTO Books and Arts festival at the Village Market in Nairobi. It brought together local and international artists to showcase their literary works and discuss emerging literary trends in Africa.

During the Festival, Kenyans were treated to a packed four-day program of literary events aimed at rekindling interest in books, reading and enhancing the impact of arts and literature in the country.

Themed Igniting African Literature, the Festival was organized to coincide with World Book and Copyright Day celebrated in over 100 countries to celebrate books and reading as a culture. The Day was designated by UNESCO on 23 April 1995 and aims to encourage children and young people to read for pleasure.

World renowned Ghanaian writer and blogger Nana Darkoa Sekyia graced the event. Nana is the author of the bestselling book The Sex Lives of African Women.

Nana Darkoa, Ghanaian writer and author of The Sex Lives of African Women speaking at the dinner

The highlight of the festival was the Literature Stakeholders’ Dinner which coincided with World Book and Copyright Day. The focus of the dinner was on how to monetize African literature and will include several books written by Kenyans.

Mercy Kibira, Curator of MOTO Books and Arts Festival, commented: “Key industry players, thought leaders and government officials came together to deliberate on possible ways to monetize African literature in the emerging world. which has become a global village. We are honored to have invaluable partners who are committed to a culture of reading and enhancing the impact of books and the arts in Kenya.

Among the books launched at the event was A Son of A Nile, an Inspiring Journey – a bold, eclectic and interesting anthology of Teddy Warria’s prose, examining his genealogy and giving it purpose.

Teddy is an African entrepreneur, author and youth advocate. He is passionate about innovation and human development and works with youth in Africa and around the world as Founding Chairman and CEO of Africa 2.0 in Kenya.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for authors and other literary artists to dissect the trends and impacts of their works on the socio-cultural development of society. African literature must play its rightful role not only as a hero but also as a formidable force in the development of the continent,” says Teddy Warria.

Earlier today, a community initiative dubbed Adopt-A-Library was launched in Nairobi’s Kibera slums to boost literacy levels and reduce poverty in marginalized areas. At the launch, over 18,000 books were distributed to 30 community libraries in marginalized areas.

The initiative has seen several publishers, authors and the general public adopt 30 libraries across the country by donating books to fill the literacy gap among school children, youth and adults in resource-poor areas. A library in Kibera has been identified for Nana, the guest of honor, to adopt during her visit.

Maktabas CEO Gerald Mbugua says, “We are participating in the MOTO Books and Arts Festival as a strategic partner to advance literacy levels in marginalized areas by supplying libraries and fostering strategic partnerships that will increase our impact. on communities.

The Festival also included a literary masterclass led by local authors and exhibitions that will provide the best publishing brands and authors the opportunity to showcase exceptional books, arts and culture. Exhibitors come from publishing houses, bookstores, licensing and intellectual rights agencies, educational institutions, illustrators and publishers, authors, online content creators and Press.

World Book and Copyright Day was launched by UNESCO on April 23, 1995 as a global celebration of books and reading and is celebrated in more than 100 countries around the world.

The MOTO Books and Arts Festival 2022 is organized in collaboration with Half Priced Books Limited, Village Market, Columbia Global Centres, Story Moja, Maktabas, Solkids and Trademark Hotel, among other sponsors.

It aims to strengthen the impact of African literature in society by encouraging children and young people to read for pleasure through its work with authors, illustrators, publishers, bookstores and libraries.

Village Market Business Development Manager Damar Padwa said, “We are honored to host this important festival which will go a long way in stimulating the growth of literature and the love of books in Kenya. As education is one of the pillars of our social responsibility, we will continue to participate in initiatives aimed at strengthening the culture of reading among children and young people. African literature has become a cornerstone of world literature, it is time to support local authors to become the best they can ever be.

African literature has seen phenomenal growth in recent years, with many writers from the continent dominating world literary prizes.

The Nobel Prize for Literature was dominated mostly by Westerners during its 120-year existence. Of the 118 literary laureates since the awarding of the first Nobel Prize in 1901, 95 – or more than 80% – are Europeans or North Americans.

Some of the world’s biggest literary prizes, including the Nobel, Booker and Goncourt, have been awarded to Africans in 2021, a sign of the continent’s emergence as a major force in literature.

Among them, Tanzanian Abdulrazak Gurnah became a Nobel laureate, South African Damon Galgut won the British Booker Prize and Senegalese Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, 31, became the first writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win the literary prize. the most prestigious in France, the Prix Goncourt.

Senegalese writers also won the International Booker (David Diop) and Neustadt Prize (Boubacar Boris Diop) while the Camoes Prize from Portugal went to Paulina Chiziane from Mozambique.

African literature had its peak in the 1950s and 1960s, although it was linked to politics and decolonization, embodied by figures such as the Senegalese poet/president Léopold Sedar Senghor.

Other authors who have advanced African literature include Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka, Nigerian playwrights and novelists, Okot p’Bitek, famous Ugandan writer, Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Kenyan writers and scholars, for n’ cite just a few.

Today the themes are much broader and writers less concerned with how they are perceived by outsiders.

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