Growing a Reading Nation with NBW

14/09/2016 / National Book Week

For the first time since its inception, National Book Week (NBW) was celebrated in all nine provinces, which is a great feat for the industry. This year the South African Book Development Council (SABDC) went all out to promote the importance of books.


Councillor Siyasanga Sijadu, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture in Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality launched NBW activities countrywide in Uitenhage on the 5th September. “Reading and writing will not only ensure that you will be able to articulate yourself better, it also provides you with the acumen to compete better in the marketplace. One problem persists in especially our township schools and that is that reading has been reduced to a chore. It is even scarier that Xhosa people cannot read or write in IsiXhosa. It is unheard of in countries like India and China that people cannot read or write in their local dialect. We cannot have this,” Councillor Sijadu said.


In an effort to expand, enhance and offer balanced public library services the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation brought Overdrive e-books (electronic books) to the community of Westonaria, Gauteng on the 6th September 2016.
Working with the South African Library for the Blind (SALB), Overdrive has now been designed to meet the needs of visually impaired South Africans so that they too, may share in the joy of reading. Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation‘s Head of Library and Information Services, Koekie Meyer emphasized the importance of reading and encouraged everyone to join their local Library. “If you do not value libraries, you do not value information” Meyer said. She concluded by thanking the SABDC for introducing campaigns such as NBW to get more people reading.


The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Western Cape Library Service and the Saldanha Bay Municipality in partnership with the SABDC hosted the first of the three-day NBW programmes at the Weskus Mall in Vredenburg.

Amongst some of the dignitaries in attendance was NBW ambassador and award-winning singer-songwriter Chad Saaiman who moved the audience with his heartwarming motivational talk. He spoke about how reading has shaped his career and has saved his life. “I got shot during a hijacking. Thankfully, knowledge saved my life. I remembered reading how to stop the bleeding from a gunshot wound, all through a book I read during my teen years,” he relayed, highlighting just what a significant impact something as simple as reading a book did for him. The Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Ms. Anroux Marais did an official handover of books to the children in attendance on behalf of the Western Cape Library Service.


“We need more people to read books written in their languages,” said Zakes Bantwini, an ambassador of NBW 2016 on the second day of NBW in Mpumalanga. “If you walk through any airport in South Africa you’d swear you are not in Africa; you’d think you are in the United States. There is a noticeable scarcity of books in indigenous languages. This is not right at all.” MEC for Culture, Sport and Recreation, Ms Norah Mahlangu echoed Bantwini’s words by reiterating the importance of preserving our languages. She also said that there should be a strong emphasis in encouraging people to take pride in their home languages.


Day 4 of NBW filled the William Humphreys Art Gallery in Kimberley with an energetic line-up of activities, which ranged from storytelling sessions by Kwesukela and a slam poetry and hip-hop session by Hitman CEO, which proved to be a hit amongst learners from local schools.
The MEC of Sport, Arts and Culture, Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba took a tour of the facilities, sitting in on some of the NBW activities taking place. She spent some time with the Early Childhood Development (ECD) learners and read excerpts from a storybook to them before heading to the gallery hall for the unveiling of the Sol Plaatje bust.

With September 8th being International Literacy Day, it is also fitting that the Northern Cape commemorates 100 years of the Sol Plaatje book: “Native Life in South Africa” and that NBW was there to celebrate this momentous occasion.


The Meyerton community in the Midvaal area celebrated their NBW with an action-packed programme that saw Mayor Baloyi even dancing hoola hoops, as he interacted with the Early Childhood Development age group.
Speaking to learners, Mr. Bongani Baloyi, Executive Mayor in the Midvaal said, “A reading nation is a winning nation. When we read we become better people in life. We need books and education to move ourselves from informal settlements to better conditions.”

Port Elizabeth

Funda Bala launched activities in PE with a peaceful #READ_A_BOOK walk from the Lilian Diedricks building to the City Hall for the special awards ceremony of our young NBW Heroes. These inspirational young learners had informative discussions around prescribed books and were able to articulate the importance of books and share in the joys of reading. Local Councilor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Ms. S Sijadu along with Funda Bala, gracefully honoured the learners with certificates and trophies. “Books must be celebrated every day, in every home” Councilor Sijadu explained, during her opening address.


Hundreds of people, including crèche-age children, primary school children, teenagers and gogos came out to participate in the NBW celebrations at Mbazwana Depot and Public Library.
NBW Ambassador, Zakes Bantwini spoke eloquently to high school learners about how reading inspired his love for music and writing. Activities included a spelling bee, Word-a-thon, chess games, storytelling and more. Funda Bala captivated the young audience and went around generously handing out books to everyone. Mrs Sithole Moloi, MPL MEC of Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation and Ward Councillor Magagula presided over the official proceedings. It was a truly magical day filled with laughter, learning and lots of fun.


Learners from Seshego schools gathered in the Ramatlhodi Indoor Sports Complex to partake in the activities, as storytellers, poets and the hip hop artist Hitman CEO shared the joy of reading with them.
Ms Rosie Katz reminded the learners and community members that the secret for success lies within the pages of a book. It is only through the knowledge and wisdom found in books that we will be able to reach greater heights in life.


Deep within the streets of Soweto, on the South side of Johannesburg, the Walter Sisulu Place of Safety in Noordgesig also celebrated NBW. This centre renders services that focus on growth and development of children in order to empower them to be successful in the community. It was with this in mind that NBW ambassador, Mr Stoan Seate was invited to address this young audience and show them that “reading is cool.” In addition to sharing words of wisdom and empowerment, Stoan entertained the children with some freestyle rap. The young audience was further treated to some fun educational games and storytelling sessions from the NBW service providers namely: Kwesukela, Word-a-thon, Cotlands and Project Literacy.

Following the success of the 2015 #BUY_A_BOOK campaign, the SABDC continued to spread the power of reading in celebration of NBW 2016. Publishers New Africa Books, Pan Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Jacana sponsored a selection of books for sale through Exclusive Books and Bargain Books stores nationwide. The selected titles were available for R20 from 5-18 September 2016. also came on board this year making it easy for the public to do their part in sharing the magic of books. These books will be donated to key NBW reading initiatives and to those who do not have books in their homes.