TEACHER'S MIND : How about an annual book fair?

I recently spent some time in Kampala although I must admit it was not the most pleasant welcome that I have grown to expect from the city known for its very vibrant life (especially the night life).

I recently spent some time in Kampala although I must admit it was not the most pleasant welcome that I have grown to expect from the city known for its very vibrant life (especially the night life).

The riots that engulfed the city and its suburbs following a standoff between the Central government and the Buganda kingdom brought life to a virtual standstill.

However, it was not all negative while there. I managed to have some good time and do some positive things once the dust had settled.

I visited a bookshop and bought myself some new books to read and although I must admit that I am not a very good reader but I am slowly catching up. Yes it is never too late to acquire certain skills.

Last week I talked about the importance of libraries in boosting the education system of our country. I would like to continue along the same lines today drawing inspiration from something I witnessed while in Kampala.

With the return of normalcy in the city, a book fair was held for a week in the city centre.

I am not sure if something similar has ever been held here but all the same I will go ahead and expound of what I think are the benefits of such an event.

I took time to visit the book fair and although I did not buy a book (I had already done so) I noticed numerous benefits of such an event.

This annual event just like our own Rwanda International Trade Fair (expo) focuses strictly on books.

This therefore means that bookshops around the country and the East African region, publishing houses as well as printing houses come together to exhibit what they have to offer. Actually in 2005, I bought a Swahili book from a Tanzanian lady at such an event. 

The gist of the event just like all other exhibitions is for the general public to meet, in one venue the different service and product providers in the book industry.

In other words it helps the general public to know where to find to books, publishers and printing services among others.

Sometime back an editor at The New Times wondered whether we have bookshops in Kigali. Such an event would go along way in answering such a question.

And besides, one can also get to buy some interesting and useful books. As I said before, I am not sure if such an event has been held in Kigali before but all the same we need to have one such event and annually.

It would bring together the different bookshops in Kigali, the publishers and the numerous printing houses.

Here Rwandans will have a chance to know where to find books and other related services.

Some people do not even know that the major supermarkets in the city sell books or that one can get regional and international magazines thanks to a distributor who also brings regional newspapers.

There are some people who take their printing jobs to Nairobi and Kampala while the same work can be done right here in Kigali. Such an event would help to provide the public with a lot of vital information.

I really look forward to such an event being held here in Kigali and pray that when it eventually takes place, it is graced by the leaders so as to give it the deserved attention.

By the way, such an event can also attract investors into the education or book sector

Rwanda’s Vision 2020 clearly highlights the need to turn Rwanda into a Knowledge-Based Economy. This is why a lot of emphasis has been placed on the development of ICTs.

Unfortunately this goal may become a mirage if a good reading and research culture is not nurtured. It is high time we organised a book fair. In fact I offer myself as a volunteer at such at event.

ssenyonga@gmail.com

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