Irina Bokova
Irina Bokova

There was a bit a low key celebration of World Book and Copyright Day 2016 across the African continent from our investigation.

World Book Day or World Book and Copyright Day which is also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Days is a yearly event on April 23rd, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).The day is aimed at promoting reading, publishing and copyright.

The originators of World Book Day UNESCO gave a message on this event which was marked around the planet on Saturday. Irina Bokova who is the organisation’s Director General stated that, “A book is a link between the past and the future. It is a bridge between generations and across cultures. It is a force for creating and sharing wisdom and knowledge.”

She explained that William Shakespeare died on April 23rd with Cervantes leaving us the following day it the best day to celebrate this day.

“William Shakespeare died on 23 April, 1616, preceded by only one day by Cervantes. On this day, I call upon all of UNESCO’s partners to share the message that books are a force to counter, what Shakespeare called, “the common curse of mankind — folly and ignorance,” she said. The celebrations at the Unesco headquarters looked off the hook.

So how was the big day celebrated on the continent? In Uganda, Writivism and GZK/UGCS came together for an event dedicated to literature and poety. This was a panel discussion on the copyright and intellectual property law moderated by Peter Kagayi and including James Wasula from the Uganda Performing Rights Society, Charles Batambuze from the Uganda Reproduction Rights Organization,
Mbabazi Norman a lawyer who specializes on Intellectual Property and Femrite’s Beatrice Lamwaka. In the evening there were readings, poetry performances and a book exchange. It seems to be the most vigorous celebration of World Book Day

In South Africa, which has an official World Book Day Twitter account no less, there was a report where award winning writer Cynthia Jele famous for her book Happiness is A Four Letter World (Our review) was asked her view of the big day. She stated, “Books are sources of knowledge and inspiration. I wrote Happiness is a Four-Letter Word as a result of reading.”

On their part, South African Rugby announced that they would open their seventh Boks for Books library, in the Nelson Mandela Bay region, on 23 June as its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) project continues to make a difference in people’s lives throughout the country.

In Kenya it wasn’t so much a World Book Day thing; there was a kickass event at the house of the British High Commissioner where “Shakespeare Lives” remembered the dead bard.

In Nigeria, all I saw was an article explaining that Allah The Most merciful decreed that we should read in the Guild which ties in perfectly with World Book Day. I think.

Further across the continent, there was very little which was written about this important UN day and I am hoping that two things are in play here. There will be more reportage at the end of the week when publications across the continent put their coverage in the weekend coverage. Also that we will see some more World Book Day awesomeness across the continent in the next years. We can only hope.

P.S. If you hosted a World Book Day event on the continent please tell us about it. We want to share it with everyone else.