I was delighted to receive an invitation to attend a welcome cocktail as part of events to mark the sixth edition of the Port-Harcourt Book Festival formerly known as Garden City Literary Festival. The cocktail was organised in honour of the guest authors who would participate throughout the week-long event from 21st-26th October, 2013.
It was a pleasure to meet some of the authors who shared their expectations about the activities lined up for the week, gave some insight to their works and answered a few questions from the those in attendance. Guest authors featured at the event include Chika Unigwe; NLNG prize winner for ‘On Black Sisters Street’, Titi Horsfall with her first Novel – ‘From an Orphan to A Queen – Esther, Molara Wood; John La rose prize winner for ‘Indigo’, Binyavanga Wainaina, Kenyan author and essayist with his first book – ‘One day I will write about this place’, Christie Bature-Ogbeifun : ‘ Exactly the same coin’ and ace comedian, compere, actor an author of Jokes Apart, How did I get here? – Julius Agwu.
This year’s theme: Literature and the creative economy was chosen to harness talents in the creative sector as a whole for the purpose of charting practical ways to make literature an effective income generating venture and economic tool in Nigeria. Accordingly, the organisers brought together academics, writers, publishers, booksellers, librarians and readers to rub minds during the festival.
The opening ceremony provided a platform for a rich discussion on the theme, giving various contributors from the panel and audience an opportunity to brainstorm on how literature could contribute meaningfully to the creative economy. It was a rewarding time of cross-fertilization of ideas from people across various sectors that make up the creative industry. The Governor made a speech with a pledge to build a creative centre in order to boost the creative arts industry.
The Port-Harcourt Book Festival is an initiative of the Rainbow Book Club, the brain child of Mrs. Koko Kalango who is also the festival Director. Mrs. Kalango has been at the forefront of the campaign to improve reading culture in the country since 2004 when the Rainbow Book Club was Founded.
She has initiated and piloted several programs geared towards enhancing the reading culture among Nigerians including the ‘Get Nigeria Reading Again’ campaign, Garden City Literary Festival (Now Port-Harcourt Book Festival), Book-of-the-month reading schedules among others. The greatest achievement is the recent nomination of Port-Harcourt as the World Book Capital City for the year, 2014 by UNESCO. The bid was put forward by the Rainbow Book Club. Mrs. Kalango has indeed started a revolution in the literary and creative industry and deserves commendation.
The venue of the event, Hotel presidential Port-Harcourt was a bee-hive of activities including reading sessions by eminent persons with students, symposiums, book fair, writers’ workshops, book launch, meet-the-author and book signing sessions and much more. It was an eventful week and a very good prelude to the much anticipated World Book Capital City Event billed to take place in April, 2014. There was something interesting for everyone in attendance.
This is to Mrs Koko Kalango for her most inspiring passion to promote reading culture and the creative arts in Nigeria.