Shimmer Chinodya seated at the Q&A.
Shimmer Chinodya seated at the Q&A.

The Zimbabwe International Book Fair 2016 happened at the Harare Gardens from July 25 to 30. The theme of this year’s book fair was “Igniting Interest in Reading for Sustainable Development”.

The official opening ceremony was presided over by Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Dr. Lazarus Dokora on July 27 and as you would expect from a government official he was breathing fire where book piracy was concerned. Good luck with getting the bad guys Mr Minister.

This year’s fair happened with the backdrop of a country that is reeling from a cash crunch making it difficult to operate for citizens. With the festival also suffering from a lack of funding, the literary evening which was planned for Friday July 29th being cancelled.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom as several books launched at the festival. The one event that we attended was the launch of Shimmer Chinodya’s Harvest of Thorns: A Play (2016, Person Education Africa). The evening included a showing of part of the play at the Harare Gardens followed by a Q&A that included that white haired Shimmer. It was a night to remember as the legendary author who has been unwell wept with the appreciation from the enthusiastic audience.

Away from the events that were happening around the festival, the main thing to see was the many stands of exhibitioners at the gardens. Proving that things could be better, the bulk of them came from publishers whose core business was educational content. This is because as is normal at this festival, there were many students who were given an opportunity to see what was happening. Also there were some religious organisations. Sadly there were very few publishers of fiction that we could see at this event except maybe Weaver Press.

Here are a few images we covered with our trusty cellphone camera from the stands at the Harare Grounds.

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Update: You can read more from those who attended the festival here.