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BOOKEISH (article first published : 2003-02-16)

Bookeish!, the South African International Festival of Books is an initiative to encourage South Africans to go beyond literacy and discover the pleasure of reading and its uses in everyday life. The organisation will do this by organizing the first ever international festival of books to be held in Cape Town in 2004.

The primary programme for bookeish! for 2003 is to publicise the list of the 100 best African books of the 20th century published by the Zimbabwe International Book Fair by organising a national schools’ reading competition.

This programme offers the opportunity to create awareness of an important list and also to assert the African character and interest of the Bookeish! campaign. It presents the publishers as generously committed to schools and teachers along with stakeholders such as NGOs (READ) and government. At the same time, it plays a developmental role amongst a youth constituency and will have a wide reach through a national quiz broadcast either on radio or television in May 2003.

Towards the end of last year bookeish! appealed to all publishers of books on the 100 best African books list to assist by donating copies of each book on the list for distribution in township schools. Some 100 copies of 32 titles on the list have thus far been donated by publishers. (see attached list of titles)

Township schools in the Gauteng, Western Cape and Limpopo provinces have been chosen to participate in the competition which runs from February to June 2003. Groups will be encouraged to read books on the list – the first groups to read 10 of the books will be considered semi-finalists, who will then be entered in a quiz to test their knowledge of the books and their reactions to them. The semi-finalists will then submit information on five of the books they have read (e.g. plot, theme, character) as well as an essay on the value of African literature. The top teams and their teachers will be taken to a weekend writing workshop to consolidate their interest and leadership.

The schools’ competition will be co-branded by the National Department of Education’s Masifunde Sonke. They have pledged to contribute R70,000 which will go towards covering the costs of the teacher-training workshops and production of T-shirts for the campaign. Partnerships have also been forged with the Western Cape Provincial Department of Education as well as the Gauteng Department, Northern Tshwane district and Bushbuckridge. In the Western Cape, the bookeish! campaign will form an integral part of the province’s five-year literacy campaign to be launched in the coming weeks.

will accompany a six-hour workshop to enable teachers from the participating schools to assist the learners in the competition. The workshops will be conducted by a READ teacher trainer.

Bookeish! is not a once-off event, but an ongoing campaign to transform the ability to read into a passion for reading. The Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century Competition is one of the first programmes of bookeish!. More details from Miss Firdous Osman on Tel/Fax 011 467 6501 or 082 566 9966 or e-mail: firdous@fossal.co.za




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