Time for book fairs to “break the class divide”

The evening came alive with song and music when renowned South African storyteller Gcina Mhlophe took to the stage at the annual Jozi Book Fair, while Wits vice chancellor Professor Adam Habib called for more accessible book fairs.  

LETS READ: Gcina Mhlope  poses with VC Adam Habib and Khanya College organizers at the Jozi Book Fair. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho

LET’S READ: From left, Dr Maria van Driel, one of the organisers, Gcina Mhlope, Prof Adam Habib and a guest at the Jozi Book Fair in Braamfontein on Thursday evening.                                                                                 Photo: Katleho Sekhotho

 

Wits University’s vice chancellor has said that book fairs need to “break the class divide.” Speaking at the 7th annual Jozi Book Fair in Braamfontein on Thursday night, an event hosted in partnership with Wits University and Khanya College, Habib spoke of the need to make book fairs more accessible.

Reflecting on the launch of one of his books two years ago at the Franschhoek Literature Festival, Habib said he realised that there were only about six black people in the audience out of the thousands present.

Habib said book fairs are an opportunity for the upper middle class to hang around and share interesting ideas, but made the call for a change, and said that the university’s partnership with Khanya College is part of this.

“We are starting this particular relationship with Khanya [College]… because it’s about deepening access to education, and that is something we are particularly increasingly getting committed to.”

Celebrated writer and poet Gcina Mhlophe was also present and captivated the audience with her signature mix of music and poetry, (click to listen).

 

Focusing on young people and reading, Mhlope spoke of what led her to write children’s books, “I started writing for children because I got jealous, when I got to those countries where they sell children’s books only – they dress them up so well – I wanted to make a contribution!” (click to listen).