June 14, 2024
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Rainbow Book Club launches Talking Books Africa, I Have a Dream series

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  • April 23, 2024
  • 3 min read
Rainbow Book Club launches Talking Books Africa, I Have a Dream series

* RBC Marks 10th anniversary of Port Harcourt World Book Capital

* Today, April 23, 2024, Strasbourg, France assumes World Book Capital tenure

By Editor

TEN years ago, Nigeria made history as Port Harcourt assumed its tenure as UNESCO World Book Capital by beating eight contenders, including Oxford to clinch the title. That was in 2014. A decade after, the Rainbow Book Club, Project Manager of the Port Harcourt World Book Capital programme, is launching out with two exciting initiatives: Talking Books Africa, a monthly virtual live conversation with authors which made its debute with the award-winning Chibundu Onuzo as guest, and ‘I Have A Dream’ series detailing biographies of notable Africans for young readers. It will begin with Africa’s first Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka, who turns 90 this year.

The ‘Get Nigeria Reading Again’ campaign, which 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, Garden City Literary Festival (later renamed 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, which was described by ThisDay as ‘arguably the biggest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa’ was sponsored by the Rivers State Government and hosted by the Rainbow Book Club.

At the opening ceremony of Port Harcourt’s year-long World Book Capital tenure, Soyinka, in his keynote address, spotlighted the importance of the book in national development efforts and the threat to education by terrorism, highlighting the plight of the Chibok girls who had been kidnapped from their school. A former federal minister, Mrs. Obi Ezekwesili, made the call to bring back the girls, sparking off an international campaign for education for the girlchild and the urgency to recover the abducted girls and bring them home to safety. Nigeria’s musicians Burna Boy, Timi Dakolo, MI, Waje, Yemi Alade and Nosa lent their voices to the reading campaign, as they rendered the Port Harcourt World Book Capital theme song.

Other partners that are working with Rainbow Book Club to spread the joy of reading include Nigeria LNG and TOTALENERGIES.

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Founder of Rainbow Book Club, Koko Kalango

The dozen programmes of the World Book Capital year included 200 book clubs set up in schools, establishment of libraries as well as stories written by children from the 23 Local Government 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 included the Caine Prize and PEN International. In that year, Port Harcourt World Book Capital exhibited at Cape Town Book Fair, London Book Fair and Frankfurt Book Fair.

The Rainbow Book Club pioneered getting notable people to read to children to stimulate their interest in books. Readers included former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Soyinka, former governors Raji Fashola and Rotimi Amaechi, Ministers Dora Akunyili and Dein Ajumogobia, Emeka Anyaoku, Burna Boy, etc.

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

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