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Book Fair Attendants Question Zimbabweans' Reading Culture

FILE: Jesesi Mungoshi, wife of renowned writer Charles Mungoshi, with students visiting the Zimbabwe International Book Fair. (Photo/Arthur Chigoriwa)

Delegates attending an indaba at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair or ZIBF say they are worried about the low reading culture of local people despite the country’s high literacy rate.

Speaking at the ZIBF indaba Tuesday, Dr. Dodwin Makaudze of the University of Great Zimbabwe, said indications are that Zimbabweans read ordinarily to pass examinations or while preparing for some tests.

Dr. Makaedza blamed this mostly on publishers saying local books are too expensive for Zimbabweans.

He further noted that publishers have limited their markets to schools where there is a guarantee that their books would be bought.

Local writer, Beatrice Sithole, concurred, stressing that parents are also not encouraging their children to read a wide variety of books by making them available to young people.

Dr. Makaudze said the situation can be salvaged by creating partnerships with organizations like UNICEF and the government. He said such partnerships once led to an increase in the number of textbook in local schools.

Delegates at the Indaba also bemoaned lack of relevant books at community libraries focusing on challenges faced by locals.

Lupane State University librarian, Hlomphang Pangeti, said most books in libraries are donations from developed countries that at times have nothing to do with Zimbabweans.

The ZIBF is running under the theme “Growing the Knowledge Economy through Research, Writing, Publishing and Reading” and will be open to the public for four days starting tomorrow.