You have probably already heard that Port Harcourt was recently named UNESCO World Book Capital for the year 2014. But what does this mean for the city, and for Nigeria? It means that we are getting recognized again; and for something positive this time, as is not often the case.
Each year, UNESCO and the international organizations representing the three major sectors of the book industry—the International Publishers Association (IPA), International Booksellers Federation (IBF) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)—select the World Book Capital for a one-year period, starting April 23 each year. This initiative marks a joint effort by key stakeholders in the publishing industry and cities to promote books and literacy.
According to the selection committee, the city of Port Harcourt was chosen “on account of the quality of its programme, in particular its focus on youth, and the impact it will have on improving Nigeria’s culture of books, reading, writing and publishing to improve literacy rates”.
Port Harcourt is the 14th city to be named World Book Capital. The following cities have been named World Book Capital in previous years: Madrid (2001), Alexandria (2002), New Delhi (2003), Antwerp (2004), Montreal (2005), Turin (2006), Bogota (2007), Amsterdam (2008), Beirut (2009), Ljubljana (2010), Buenos Aires (2011), Yerevan (2012) and Bangkok (2013).
The bid was put forth by Rainbow Book Club, organizers of the much acclaimed yearly Garden City Literary Festival, which attracts some of the biggest names in the world of literature, in collaboration with the Rivers State Government. We say a big well done, and thank you for once again putting us on the map!