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ZIBF press statement
Zimbabwe International Book Fair
September 03, 2013

Chair of The Zimbabwe International Book Fair, Members of ZIBF General Council and Executive Board, representatives of our funding partners here present namely, Culture Fund in partnership with The European Union, British Council and Hivos in partnership with The Norwegian Embassy, members of print and electronic media, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you all to this occasion where we now confirm our state of preparedness to hold the main edition of our 2013 Zimbabwe International Book Fair and inform you what the nation and the international community of publishers and writers may expect to experience between the days of 30th September and 5th October.

Back in December 2012 we had scheduled our Book Fair to take place from 29th July to 3rd August 2013. Unfortunately, none of us could have been prophetic enough to foresee these dates clashing with the period of our national plebiscite. Given that we all experience an unusual concentration of energies, some positive, others negative, prior to, during and after the elections, we found it prudent to push our dates further back, however inconvenient it seemed at the time. Of course, the last straw that broke our back was the announcement to close schools four days before our planned dates. We all know that schools are the biggest clientele of our book sector and that young scholars provide the majority of visitors to the Book Fair. As well, we have several programmes targeting the youths including Young Persons Indaba, Live Literature Centre, Children's Reading Tent and The Digital Zone, without which the Fair would be practically soulless. I provide all this information to help you put into context the rather viral and gratuitous speculation on the social networks wildly suggesting that we stopped running the Book Fair for fear of the impending violence and chaos of our elections.

For those who may not be informed, this year we commemorate 30 years of our existence as the closest thing to Africa's prime Book Fair. In this spirit, we have chosen a Theme that sums up our focus all these years: ZIBF@30: ENABLING CREATIVITY, WRITING, PUBLISHING AND READING FOR AFRICA'S GROWTH. So far, we have already run The Bulawayo Book Fair (March) and launched for the first time The Masvingo Book Fair (May). Our thrust is driven by a vision to spread the exhibitions and love of books as far and wide across the nation as possible and strive to be relevant to our stakeholders at all times, and so far we have received enormous encouragement and support from the two Book Fairs to suggest that we are going in the right direction. In both these book fairs we have introduced a new event called "The Literary Evening" where selected writers are invited to perform, read or discuss their works before fellow authors and interested members of the general public. The enthusiasm of these evenings provided us with an inspiring trial run for the Main Book Fair in Harare and The Mutare Book Fair in October. The idea is to bring back the buzz and ambience or atmosphere for which The Book Fair was famous at its height. So we have plans for "The ZIBF Harare Literary Evenings". About this, more information will be provided as we draw nearer to the occasion.

And, as with last year, we are also dedicated to running a digital sub-theme through The Indaba, The Young Person's Indaba, The Writers' Workshop and the Exhibitions. We are especially grateful to the Office of the President for a generous donation of computers to ZIBF for the purpose of fulfilling this very objective.

By now, you will also be aware that we ran a two-day All-Stakeholders Anti-Piracy Workshop in May where representatives of the primary, key and secondary stakeholders of the book industry met to discuss the extent of piracy, its causes and characteristics in Zimbabwe as well as identifying possible solutions. A Focus Group was created to draw up an action plan and present a preliminary report during the coming Indaba. Everyone is anxious to discover the contents of this report and what hope there is to rid the country of this economic curse.

So, the 2013 Main Book Fair is upon us now, bar an unforeseen crisis. We had an overwhelming response to our Call for Abstracts for our Indaba and can confirm that we had to disappoint not a few prospective presenters. Our sessions cover a variety of topics, some of which fall under the following Sessions: "Indigenous Languages and Knowledge Systems", "Digitization", "Dialogue and Tolerance in African Communities" and "Health and Environment", to name but a few. We also plan an Evening to Commemorate 30 Years of The Zimbabwe International Book Fair. Yet again, more information will be availed closer to the event. For The Writers Workshop, we have decided to run on the Theme: "Writing for Children Now". As you may agree, it is very crucial for our literary and book sector to revisit this theme in the light of our changing society and technological revolutions that demand adjustment in order to remain relevant to our children and future citizens.

Ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends, I would like to finish these few words with acknowledging the trust and support in cash and kind we have received for our programmes and activities from the following:

Culture Fund in partnership with The European Union Kopinor And Norcode British Council; Hivos in partnership with The Norwegian Embassy and The Office of the President and Cabinet I should also pay tribute to our media partners for continuing to support us throughout the year. Long may you continue to serve the nation in support of education and literacy.

Thank you very much

Musaemura B. Zimunya
Chair, Executive Board, ZIBF

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