by Chi Ibe
The Unesco World Book Capital City in 2014 title has been awarded to Nigeria’s’Port Harcourt. Cue applause.
Considering the caliber of cities bidding for the hosting right such as Oxford, England; Vilnius in Lithuania and Pula in Croatia, it seems a very big deal.
But the founder of Rainbow Book Club, Koko Kalango is convinced that no other city deserves the bragging right more – and she’s’right.
The designation is given to cities to promote reading and literature and Port Harcourt believes the new title will have a catalytic effect on the Niger Delta region, creating an army of social change agents who, informed and empowered by reading, will work collaboratively to build a peaceful, prosperous and just society.
With financial and logistical support from the government of Rivers State and various private stakeholders, Port Harcourt will be adequately prepared to host the wide-ranging series of activities outlined in our bid.
The team behind Oxford’s failed bid to become Unesco World Book Capital City in 2014 has said it hopes some of the planned events can still go ahead. Oxford had proposed a programme of events including conferences, festivals, plays and competitions.
Tony Stratton, of Oxford Inspires, said they were “disappointed” but work put in to the bid would not be wasted. “We wish Port Harcourt the best of luck in 2014,” he added.
The title ‘World Book Capital’ is conferred by UNESCO to a city in recognition of its quality of programmes to foster the promotion of books and encourage reading. The scheme was launched in 2001 with Madrid as the first city to be given the title, followed by Alexandria in 2002 and New Delhi in 2003. Bangkok was most recently selected as the 2013 World Book Capital.