Rwanda’s successful first book fair

For every first time, perfection can only be a long shot. The same cannot be said about success. The inaugural Rwanda International Book Fair that was held early this month  may not have been a moment of perfection but it was by many measures a success. The landmark event organised by Lutage Enterprises, was held at St Paul in Kigali and was graced by publishers from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and a few big global players in the publishing industry.
Apollo Munanura (C)  gives representatives of Oxford University Press an award for Best Exhibitor. (Photo by Allan B.)
Apollo Munanura (C) gives representatives of Oxford University Press an award for Best Exhibitor. (Photo by Allan B.)

For every first time, perfection can only be a long shot. The same cannot be said about success. The inaugural Rwanda International Book Fair that was held early this month  may not have been a moment of perfection but it was by many measures a success.

The landmark event organised by Lutage Enterprises, was held at St Paul in Kigali and was graced by publishers from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and a few big global players in the publishing industry.

Longhorn Publishers exhibited a wide range of books for both primary and secondary level.

Most of Longhorn’s books have been approved by the National Curriculum Development Centre. They include Keynote Primary English (1-6), Understanding Mathematics (1-6), Science & Elementary Technology, Social Studies.

Each of these books also comes with a comprehensive teachers’ guide. On display were English language story books as well as Swahili books for different levels.

According to Mark Gakono, Longhorn Publishers’ Marketing Officer, emphasized the need for a vibrant publishing industry in Kigali.

“There are numerous virgin business opportunities when it comes to publishing and selling books,” Gakono said.

He added that, “Longhorn has a tradition of donating book samples to schools so that teachers can judge the suitability of a given book.”

Simon Sossion, the Managing Director of Target Publications explained the fact that most of their books were tailored for the Kenyan syllabus; however, they are being adapted to fit into the Rwandan syllabus.

Bakame Editions, another publication displayed a wide range of children’s story books. Not far from Bakame, was the A-Z Book Centre that also showcased a wide range of books for different learning levels.

One popular and interesting novel titled, “Baking Cakes in Kigali,” was displayed at the Kenyan based Jimco Book Services stall. The company represents different world publishers such as Sage, Routledge and Emerald Publishers. 

Pearson Publishers who represent Longman, Heinemann, Ginn and Rigby were also present with a well set stall of various books.

At the book fare, several visitors showed a remarkable interest in the Cutting Edge English learning series books that come with a CD- ROM to help learners perfect their English pronunciation skills.

At the end of the exhibition, Pearson Publishers was rewarded for emerging as the 2nd best exhibitor.

On the other hand, MK Publishers Rwanda displayed both an assortment of Primary and Secondary School level textbooks. The company is in partnership with the Rwandan government to provide Mathematics text books for primary and O-level schools.

Fountain Publishers displayed an array of socio-political themed books. A good number of their books addressed the issue of genocide with titles like, ‘The Media and The Rwanda Genocide’ by Allan Thomson, ‘Genocide by Denial’, and ‘A People Betrayed.’

On the religious front, Grail Message had displayed a variety of spiritual books. Their representative emphatically assured the book audience that they would find answers to all of life’s questions, if they read their books.  

Oxford University Press undoubtedly had the best bookstall. It was no surprise when they walked away with the Best Exhibitor Award at the end of the day. An expansive range of dictionaries, secondary readers and so many other attractive books were on display.

James Ogolla the company’s Business Development & Publicity manager was excited to show off the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary that comes with a CD-ROM to ensure elaborate pronunciations of English words.

The main organiser of the event, Lucy Kagendo from Boflix Rwanda, said that the idea of the book fair was born out of the envy for countries like Kenya and Uganda where book fairs have long become traditions.

“Our aim is to develop a reading culture here in Rwanda,” she said, adding that, “the idea of the book fair is for publishers and booksellers to promote different book titles that can later be bought long after the exhibition has closed.”

She argued that although children ought to clamor for different books, their parents must also know why they have to buy these books. She also called upon the government to support such events as a way of strengthening the reading culture in the country.

She urged fellow publishers and booksellers to, “penetrate the Rwandan market and avail books and other reading materials to Rwanda since its part of the East African Community and Commonwealth that are English-based.”

The exhibition was officially closed by RDB’s Director of Skills Development, Apollo Munanura.

He stressed the fact that book publishers were not merely investors but also partners of development for their role in assisting Rwanda to achieve and evolve into a Knowledge-based economy.

ssenyonga@gmail.com

 

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