The Western Cape Government is Committed to Building a Reading Nation | Western Cape Government


The Western Cape Government is Committed to Building a Reading Nation

8 September 2014

Good morning to the Mayor of Drakenstein Municipality, Advocate Gesie van Deventer.

Thank you for hosting this wonderful event this morning. National Book Week is the pride and joy of our country as it represents our efforts of truly building a reading and an informed nation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the vision that has been mapped out by the National Development Plan for our country.

This is the goal post that we work towards for the next 30 years.

And so Mayor van Deventer you should be proud. It is on your door step that we celebrate such great efforts.

Good morning to the representatives of the South African Book Development Council, Jane Molony and Ms Elitha van der Sandt.

The South African Book Development Council (SABDC) in partnership the national Department of Arts and Culture has been the driver of this initiative and it has done very well.

The work that this council has done has been astronomical.

They have been instrumental in diagnosing the problem and have pioneered the way towards providing a solution.

National Book Week was developed in response to a study commissioned in 2007, by the SABDC.  

The study, which focused on the reading and book reading habits of adult South Africans,  showed that only 14% of South Africans are avid book readers and a mere 5% of parents read to their children.  

The survey also indicated that 51% of households in South Africa did not have a single book in their home.  

Top reasons cited for these dire statistics are: the high price of books in South Africa, lack of libraries, books too difficult to read, issues of language, lack of time, reading is perceived as boring,

and finally, no coordinated efforts to promote reading in South Africa.  

And so it was after this diagnosis that we were able to find solutions.

And so we thank you for the enormous contribution you have made in South Africa. When we reach our goal of creating a reading and informed nation- we will owe that achievement to the work done by this organisation.

The Department of Arts and Culture has also been instrumental in working with SABDC. It is through their work under the leadership of Minister Mthethwa and his predecessor, Minister Paul Mashatile , that we have had National Book Week running for five years now.

Congratulations to all of you for the work that you have done in improving the lives of South Africans.

This year, National Book Week Official Events’ have been modified and the whole initiative has expanded its reach. The official events have taken place in six provinces, throughout the week.

This is a massive change from the last four years because for the first time, ownership of the events has been shared.

The idea behind this new twist is to allow local and provincial governments to host a number of events and to promote a culture of reading in their various communities.

For the first time ever provinces like the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Free State, Limpopo, Gauteng and North West have been able to simultaneously host official events of National Book Week.

In addition, the new and exciting Book Bus Tour has been launched in Gauteng at the beginning of this week and has travelled to events in four provinces.

The Book Tour Bus which concluded its journey right here in the Western Cape has featured National Book Week ambassadors, motivational speakers, authors and storytellers. All these role players have made their invaluable contribution at the different events in the various provinces.

This year’s theme for National Book Week ‘Going Places’ reflects not only the physical journey of NBW travelling deep into South Africa but it also reflects the magic of books and how reading books can ‘figuratively’ and ‘literally’ take you places.

This is what the new nature of the programme and the Book Tour Bus has managed to do.

This year, National Book Week has focused on promoting reading and the use of libraries.

Throughout the week, it has brought to the attention of South Africans the use of the Mobile Library Programme, reading in Indigenous Languages, poetry, storytelling, public speaking and Youth Parliament.

In addition, features like the Toy Library, Character Painting, Reading Festivals and the Reading Quiz have received much needed prominence.

At some of the events, programmes which were focused on skills development were featured. These included Writers Symposium , ANFASA Contracts and Copyright Workshop and Storytelling Techniques.

We can truly say the National Book Week of 2014 have achieved its goal of going places and reaching South Africans even in the most remote of areas.

Key achievements have been the partnerships developed at national, provincial and municipal level to promote reading.

The involvement of top South African authors like Gcina Mhlophe, Zakes Mda and Sindiwe Magona  has helped elevate the reach and clout of this initiative.

uTat’uMadiba is quoted widely having said:

“It is my wish that the voice of the storyteller will never die in Africa, and that all children in Africa may experience the wonder of books...”

The mammoth task of educating a nation cannot be relegated to government alone.

It is an initiative that we must pull together to roll out.

That is why my department, of Cultural Affairs and Sport in this province is a proud partner of National Book Week and is committed to ensuring that we continue to provide access to reading material to every corner of this province.

It is an honour to host the closing ceremony and to showcase our commitment to promoting a reading culture far beyond the festivities of this week.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the partners of NBW and say to you- nangamso.

If it takes a village to raise a child, how many more hands are needed to educate a nation?

Media Enquiries: 

Siviwe Gwarube
Spokesperson for Minister Mbombo
Tel: 021 483 9800
Cell: 076 055 6280