The Nairobi International Book Fair 2019 officially kicked off at the Sarit Centre in Nairobi on Thursday, September 26, 2019. The fair ends on Sunday, September 29, 2019.
The Nairobi International Book Fair, which was founded in 1996, is the longest-running book fair in the Eastern African region. The fair has hosted thousands who have visited hundreds of stands laid out by those who populate the publishing industry in East Africa and the wider African region. There was a sizable turnout for the official opening day of the 22nd edition of the book fair at the still under construction new wing of the Sarit Centre on Thursday, September 26.
The event had speeches from, among others, Mary Maina the chairman of the Nairobi International Book Fair, Musyoka Muli who is in charge of the Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Literary Prize 2019, Mr Kimotho on behalf of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, Text Book Centre managing director Armand Houahu, and Kenya Publishers Association chairman Lawrence Njagi. The keynote address was delivered by the guest of honour Egyptian Minister of Culture Ines Abdel-Dayem.
Just like in 2018, the onus of welcoming the guests to the fair was on its chairman Mary Maina. She started by thanking the guest of honour for accepting their invitation and then spoke a bit about the fair. The events that would be happening over the next few days have the theme “Read. Apply. Freedom.” There are 70 local and 15 international exhibitors showcasing their work among them publishers, printers, government departments, embassies, and a host of other institutions.
Musyoka Muli spoke about the Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Literary Prize 2019 (whose shortlists were announced on September 9). He explained that the method for choosing the shortlist, in spite of rumours that were swirling around, was above board. The winners were going to be announced at a ceremony on Saturday, September 28. He thanked Text Book Centre for helping to continue to recognise writing for children, young adults, and adults with their continued support. The committee, he said, was looking at the future of the prize possibly celebrating literature written by children for children, digital entries as well as writing in mothertongue.
Also speaking at the event was Text Book Centre managing director Armand Houahu who spoke of the commitment of the company he runs to the book fair and the Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Literary Prize 2019.
Lawrence Njagi welcoming the guest of honour who had only flown in at 3am today and was still able to come and attend the opening ceremony. He spoke about the fair which has been running for the last two decades recalling their humble beginnings. He also referenced the International Publishers Association seminar that happened earlier in the year thanking those who made sure it was a success including IPA Vice President Bodour Al Qasimi. He welcomed Mr Kimotho, an official from the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development, who spoke about the vital role that government played in the publishing sector.
The keynote address, which was quite short, was from Egypt Minister of Culture Inas Abdeldayam who was delighted to be in Kenya. She saw Egypt’s first participation at the book fair as a starting point of furthering Egyptian and Kenyan cultural relations. The partnership is a continuation of the long historical relationship between the two countries.
After speeches, there was a photo opportunity and guests were ushered to officially partake of all that was on offer until September 29.
Check out the fair over the next few days folks. Good stuff awaits you.