East African Book Development Association

Enhancing Literacy for Poverty Eradication

Book Week Festivals

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With support from the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) in 1996, a group of Kenyan publishers staged a national book week festival to promote reading within a cultural context. This approach was pegged on the understanding that African people possess a strong traditional orientation to oral and cultural mediums of education, communication and entertainment and that information transmitted through song, dance and story-telling is more widely embraced than the quiet privacy that books engender.

The book week festival was therefore designed to capture this concept. Its activities included author parades and readings, outdoor book exhibitions, sales and donations in various upcountry towns, literary awards, cultural performances, drama and poetry sessions bearing educational messages, reading competitions for children and seminars to discuss policy issues affecting the book sector.

Several publishers from Tanzania and Uganda were invited to the Kenyan book week festival and, during one of the seminars, the idea of replicating the festival in the other two East African countries was mooted.  Subsequently, the East African Book Weeks Committee formed comprising of 10 representatives from the three countries who met annually to organize the Book Week Festivals concurrently in the three countries during the month of September.

Since the registration of EABDA in 2001 the national book week festivals are now organised by the national book development councils. EABDA has been funding each country to host a week-long festival during the month of September in at least 30 centres countrywide. Activities of the festival include:

  • Reading promotion campaigns in the media
  • Outdoor publicity programmes
  • National book fairs
  • District-based book exhibitions
  • National literary awards
  • Cultural festivities
  • Literary Awards
  • Children's reading tents
  • Book forums and authors' talks
  • Book launches
  • Inter-school quizzes
  • Book marches
  • etc
News Updates
01 May, 2011
EABDA launched three new programmes in April 2011.
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