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Rainbow Book Club Launches Talking Books Africa and R.O.A.R. Africa Series

Marks 10th Anniversary of Port Harcourt World Book Capital

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Ten years ago, Nigeria made history, as Port Harcourt assumed its tenure as UNESCO World Book Capital, beating 8 contenders, including Oxford.

Rainbow Book Club founder, Koko Kalango, with Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka (who gave the keynote address), at the opening ceremony of Port Harcourt World Book Capital 2014 on April 23rd (World Book & Copyright Day)

A decade after, the Rainbow Book Club, Project Managers of the Port Harcourt World Book Capital programme, are launching two(2) exciting initiatives;

  • Talking Books Africa is a monthly, virtual, live conversation with authors which debuted with the award-winning Chibundu Onuzo as a guest.
  • R.O.A.R. Africa series (biographies of notable Africans for young readers), beginning with Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, who turns 90 this year. This initiative is a partnership with UNESCO Paris.

Today, April 23rd 2024, Strasbourg, France assumes the World Book Capital title.

The ‘Get Nigeria Reading Again’ campaign, which the Rainbow Book Club, kicked off with Chimamanda Adichie in 2005, played a significant role in Port Harcourt’s nomination as World Book Capital 2014.

From 2008, the Garden City Literary Festival (later named the Port Harcourt Book Festival) drew writers, artists, book lovers, other creatives and culture connoisseurs from across Nigeria, Africa and other continents to the city of Port Harcourt.

“This festival was described by This Day publication as ‘arguably the biggest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa’ was sponsored by the Rivers State Govt. and hosted by the Rainbow Book Club.” – Rainbow Book Club

At the opening ceremony of Port Harcourt’s year-long World Book Capital tenure, Wole Soyinka, in his keynote address, spotlighted the importance of the book in national development and the threat to education, highlighting the plight of the Chibok girls who had been kidnapped from their school two weeks earlier. Obi Ezekwesili, former education minister, made the call to bring back the girls, sparking off an international campaign for education.

Nigeria’s musicians (now Grammy award winner Burna Boy, Timi Dakolu, MI, Waje, Yemi Alade and Nosa) lent their voices to the reading campaign as they rendered the PH World Book Capital theme song.

The dozen programmes of the World Book Capital year included 200 book clubs set up in schools, the establishment of a 350-seater library sponsored by Shell, as well as stories written by children from the 23 Local Govt. Areas of Rivers State and the 36 states of Nigeria, about their communities and published in books.

Hay Festival and Rainbow Book Club collaborated on the ‘Africa 39’ project that selected and celebrated 39 of Africa’s most promising writers under the age of 40. Other international partners on this project included the Caine Prize and PEN International. In that year, Port Harcourt World Book Capital exhibited at the Cape Town Book Fair, the London Book Fair and the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Other partners, who are working with Rainbow to spread the joy of reading include Nigeria LNG and TOTALENERGIES.

The Rainbow Book Club pioneered getting notable people to read to children to stimulate their interest in books. Readers have included VP Osinbajo, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Soyinka, Former Governors Babatunde Fashola and Rotimi Amaechi, Ministers Dora Akunyili, Henry Odein Ajumogobia, Emeka Anyaoku, Burna Boy, etc.

The creative and passionate Rainbow Book Club team is led by its founder, Koko Kalango, whose work in social development, earned her a national award in 2014.

BellaNaija is a Media Partner for the Rainbow Book Club

Star Features