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Cape Flats Book Festival creates a culture of reading

Updated: Oct 28, 2019

The first-ever Cape Flats Book Festival was held 31 August to 1 September 2019 at West End Primary School in Lentegeur, Mitchells Plain - hosted by literacy non-profit organisation Read to Rise and proudly sponsored by Old Mutual.

The Cape Flats Book Festival showcased many local authors, illustrators, literacy NGOs and specialists, publishers and book sellers. There were book readings, talks, workshops and a puppet show. Over 1,700 people attended the Cape flats Book Festival which led up to National Book Week 2-8 September 2019.

1,500 new books were given out to attendees. A special thanks to those who donated books – Bargain Books, Bumble Bee Books, Theart Press, Women of Worth and South African Library and Information (SALI) Trust.

A wonderful weekend with 34 sessions and 42 speakers and over 30 exhibitors (including Bargain Books, Wilstan Books and LIASA). Crowds were treated to the likes of Yusuf Daniels, Athol Williams, Fatima and Gadija Sydow, Diana Ferrus and 13 year old Amr Salie. Children got to meet Oaky the Brave Acorn mascot and watch the Oaky puppet show. Children’s book author Nikki Jacobs launched her new book ‘Mean Cow’. Threre was lots of entertainment for both adults and children.

‘Establishing the Cape Flats Book Festival is an act of hope. It is like planting a tree in a desert. From the outside this may look like a pointless endeavour because trees don’t grow in a desert but those who look to the Cape Flats in hope know that this is not a desert, that there are hidden lakes and gushing rivers that may not be seen but are there nonetheless.’ says Read to Rise Chairman Athol Williams. ‘Only a tree of hope can call these waters to its roots. And so this tree will flourish and soon there’ll be a whole thriving lush forest of inspiration, of imagination, of innovation and indeed, of hope. This is no ordinary book festival, it comes with a vision of transforming a seeming desert into a magnificent forest. This is the Cape Flats Book Festival.’ says Williams.

The Opening Ceremony was attended by Allan Winde (Western Cape Premier), Anroux Marais (Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Western Cape Government), Councillor Eddie Andrews, Mr Clive Arries (West End Primary School), Savarion Arendse (Chair of Old Mutual Western Cape PMB) and Athol Williams (Read to Rise Chairman). National Champions, Harvester Primary School’s Marching Band and Choir also performed at the Opening Ceremony.

READ to RISE, founded in September 2013, works with 75 primary schools in Mitchells Plain and Soweto. To date, over 3,300 class programmes have been conducted and over 170,000 new story books have been given out – over 76,000 children have benefited from the READ to RISE programmes.

'We are grateful to Old Mutual, the speakers, exhibitors and all those who helped make the book festival a huge success. Ne need to continue to grow this culture of reading in the communities. We look forward to next year!' says Taryn Lock, Read to Rise Executive Director.

The non-profit organisation hopes to make the Cape Flats Book Festival an annual event.

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