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Wits, Khanya join hands for JBF 2015

- By Vivienne Rowland

 “Relationship building” and “growth” were the buzz words last night at the launch of the 2015 Jozi Book Fair (JBF), hosted by Khanya College and Wits University.

The event also served as an opportunity to announce the Wits-Khanya College partnership and introduce this year’s special guest, Gcina Mhlophe, an actor and internationally acclaimed storyteller, poet and playwright.

The launch of the JBF, held for the seventh year, was attended by Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits, Professor Adam Habib; Director of Khanya College Oupa Lehulere; exhibitors, book lovers, writers and members of the organising teams from Wits and Khanya College.

“Khanya has always had an intricate relationship with the University, and we are re-establishing this relationship. It is not the only relationship that we are re-establishing with groups of civil society, and it is about revisiting our history,” said Habib.

“It is also about deepening access to education and we are increasingly becoming committed to it, for instance for kids from rural schools and quintile one schools. It is trying to address inequality in society and it is absolutely vital that we do this. This partnership will help us in this,” said Habib. Listen to Habib.

Lehulere reiterated the importance of showcasing South African literature and books that reflect local communities.

“Book fairs are very successful if the local community are the patrons. It is important to confront the challenge and invite South African literature and make sure that it is available at the book fair,” said Lehulere.

“This book fair is a place to enjoy books and talk about books, but most of all, it is a space within which we regenerate the forces of changes. Without literature, we cannot talk about transformation. It is a bizarre society that would have all the facilities of modern life but somehow doesn’t read,” said Lehulere. Listen to his address.

Khanya College launched the first edition of the JBF in 2009, in collaboration with Botsotso Publishers at Museum Africa, in Newtown. Khanya will host JBF 2015 at Wits University in Braamfontein from 11 to 13 September 2015.

The overall objective of the JBF is to provide a visible public platform where key social partners can come together and promote a culture of reading and writing. These social partners are readers in the form of the general public and specific constituencies within this broad public; book clubs and study circles; writers and authors, in particular emerging new writers; and small, emerging and indigenous language publishers.

The JBF 2015 is themed Children’s Literature and Childhood, shining the spotlight on the nature of children’s literature and children’s literature as a genre.

“Another important aspect of JBF 2015 is childhood. We have a lot of memoires around because all of us have at some point in time been a child and we all had our favourite books as children,” said Maria van Driel, Director of the JBF.

“I think children’s literature has been extremely neglected and we find that children’s literature is even taken out of the curriculum of people studying to become librarians,” concluded Van Driel.

Mhlophe delivered a stellar performance and had the audience enthralled with her deep voice, energetic sounds and riveting storytelling for well over an hour. Listen to Mhlophe’s performance here and here