The Nairobi International Book Fair 2017 was hosted at a series of venues in Nairobi from September 27 – October 1, 2017. The event theme was “Unity Through Books.”
The Nairobi International Book Fair is the pioneer of book fair industry in East Africa having being first hosting in Kenya in 1996. The fair which is a production of the Kenya Publishers Association has built itself as a merchant’s forum with publishers from all over the continent and even beyond our rock.
Before the fair proper, there were a few activities for the publishers who attended on the day before. They included a marketing training workshop conducted by Maggie Ireri the Managing Director of TIFA Research and Director of Frontiers Sports and Entertainment currently making presentation. There was also a panel in the afternoon discussing traditional Marketing Techniques Vs. Modern Marketing Techniques. They included Neil Butcher of NB consultant, eKitabu Managing Director Will Culman, Lawrence Njagi the Kenya Publishers Association Chair and Mountain Top Publishers Managing Director, David Omuruli the Herald Publishers MD, Bernard Obura-Sales and Marketing Manager, KLB and Daisy Rono-Marketing Manager, Oxford University Press.
This year, the fair was hosted in the main at the Sarit Centre in the Westlands area of Nairobi with 58 exhibitors showing the best of what they have on offer to the Kenyan public. As expected, you could find the publishers showing their stuff like the big names that are Longhorn, East African Educational, Oxford University Press, Moran, Big Books, One Planet, WordAlive, Nsemia, Mountain Top, Phoenix, Kenya Literature Bureau, The Jomo Kenyatta and many more.
It wasn’t just the publishers that we know so well that were represented. There were also other folks strutting their stuff like Text Book Centre who are the biggest distributors of books in Kenya today. There were also representatives from countries beyond the Kenyan borders like the US embassy and the cultural council of the embassy of Iran. Then there were the tech companies interested in publishing like Snapplify, M-Kitabu, EKitabu and Jumia. It was truly a full house.
Like in many years, the biggest audience that attended the book fair were minors, children came in uniform with their schools as a school trip or they were brought by their parents to partake of the written word. The next generation of readers were hopefully being nurtured at this fair we all hoped. These young men and women were kept busy with not only the stands but also with a completion for the best essay which was sponsored by Ekitabu as they have been doing for a few years now. There was also a book march in support of reading and books and a school event.
Away from the people with the colourful stands, the fair had a few events away from the Sarit Centre. There was the award ceremony of the Burt Award All Stars winners at the Southern Sun Mayfair where Ethiopian Elshadai Tesfaye going home with a fat cheque as the big winner of the evening.
Another prize being handed out this time at the Pride Inn Hotel in Westlands was the Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature 2017. This is the most prestigious prize in Kenya and the awards went to Henry Ole Kulet, Tom Olali, Mwenda Mbatiah, Goro wa Kamau, and Muthoni Muchemi.
Here are images from the festival courtesy of the fair organisers.