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:: Celebrating the words of Africa

The Cape Town Book Fair (CTBF) is set for success when it opens its doors for the first time at the Cape Town International Convention Centre later this year. It is being held in association with the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest in the world. The Fair, being held from June 17-20 2006, will become an annual event and generate unprecedented interest in African writing, reading and publishing.

The theme, Celebrate Africa, has already attracted the attention of best-selling local and international authors as well as local and international publishers.

'It is important to recognize that Africa is not a continent producing an easily identifiable homogenous literature. There is about as much commonality between South Africa and Ghana as there is between Germany and Ghana. When we committed ourselves to Celebrate Africa, we committed ourselves to a celebration of the literary diversity of this continent, ' said Vanessa Borodin, director of the Cape Town Book Fair.

A number of literary awards ceremonies are taking place during the Fair. The first is the M-Net/Via-Afrika Awards on June 15, followed by the Sunday Times' prestigious Alan Paton Award for non-fiction and the Sunday Times Fiction Award on June 17.

Also celebrated during the Book Fair will be the 25th Noma Award, a significant African books prize that was created to promote writing and publishing in Africa. The award, held under the auspices of UNESCO, will underscore the importance of the African component of the Fair.

The African continent has a long and proud history of hosting book fairs, albeit on a smaller scale than Frankfurt.

The Book Fair's seminar programme will not only look at issues that impact on the publishing industry in South Africa and Africa but will also focus on the importance of accessible literature in indigenous languages and establishing and strengthening a culture of reading on the continent today.

The examination of literary context in Africa, the difficulties of book marketing and distribution in Africa, and the impact of mother tongue education on scholarly publishing are but a few of the topics to be covered over the four days.

The publishing industry in Africa has seen imports and local publishing growing significantly. The book trade in South Africa is recording phenomenal growth rates due to a booming economy and increasing government commitment to education and literacy.

There has been huge interest expressed by publishers and trade visitors as regards co-publishers, buying rights and exploring the notion of translations of South African authors into other languages.

A number of international and South African authors and poets will be in attendance at the Fair. Most publishers will be launching new books on a grand scale, a number of readings are planned and some really exciting launches of children's classics into Xhosa and Zulu to name but a few.

Two prominent South African writers have already come out in strong support of the CTBF.

'Since the beginning of mankind, Africa has often blessed the world with beauty and imagination. A book fair on its southern tip is an investment in the creativity of a continent that will lure many new storytellers onto paper and unleash the potential of millions and millions of prospective readers,' said Antjie Krog.

Andre Brink said that the 'advent of the Cape Town Book Fair this year will be the cherry on the cake of a dozen years of democracy in South Africa'.

He added: 'It is only when culture, and most especially literature, absorbs and expresses a major event that it is lodged in the deeper national and international consciousness. Before this moment, South Africa has remained, to some extent, a “land apart”.

The Cape Town Book Fair truly opens the country up to the larger cultural community where it has finally arrived to take its much deserved place.'

**The Cape Town Book Fair is a joint venture between the Publishers' Association of South Africa (PASA) and the renowned Frankfurt Book Fair and is sponsored by the Sunday Times.

Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd. For more information on the book fair please contact Lynn Erasmus on Tel 021 462 0416 Fax 021 462 0427 e-mail:

On behalf of The Cape Town Book Fair contact Vanessa Badroodien, Director, Cape Town Book Fair, Tel: 021 422 5004 Email:

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