Harare – This year’s edition of the ongoing Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) was a low key as few exhibitors came through making the event a pale shadow of its former self.The ZIBF used to be one of the biggest in Africa but a cocktail of reasons has caused its lose of lustre.
The event started on October 22 and ended on Saturday.
Critics said the lack of vibe was a combination of an ailing economy and the death of reading culture in the country.
“The event was not as we witnessed in previous years, as you can see from the pictures of exhibitors its sad.Cry our beloved book fair,” said popular arts promoter and critic Reginald Chapfunga.
Another critic Plot Mhako noted how Christian organisation Jehovah’s Witness dominated the exhibitors’ stands unlike in previous years where local writers and publishers jostled for space.
This year’s edition was running the theme “The book: Creating the future” and it was moved from the initially slated date in July due to the harmonised elections.
Speaking at the launch of the 2018 ZIBF exhibition, the organization’s interim chairperson as well as board member, Jasper Maenzanise, said that economic challenges facing the country have also made the launch to be delayed.
“However, other than national elections and disease outbreaks, the book industry, like every other socio-economic sector in the country, have not been spared from the current socio-economic challenges that are facing the country. For instance, the foreign currency limitations are affecting the importation of inks, paper and other materials that are required to print and publish books,” he said.
The chairman also lamented over the fall of readership as well as the illegal sell of duplicated books in street corners.
“Publishing houses and book sellers are affected by the decline rate of the reading populace among the nation, particularly reading for leisure. Excerpt for the readers that are still at school, the general public hardly afford purchasing books to read because of prevailing economic conditions,” he said.
He also added that ZIBF’s main objective is to bring all the writers, librarians and other people in the related field to showcase their work.
The ZIBF strives to bring writers, scholars, publishers, booksellers, librarians and associated stakeholders to exhibit their work and promote books. It also enables all these stakeholders to discuss topical issues that affect the book economy of Zimbabwe as well as to engage in scholarly and scientific discourse on themes that are unique to the Zimbabwean, global conditions and experiences.
The event was attended by government officials from the ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development among others.