The Minister of Youth, Culture and Communication, Mohamed Mehdi Bensaid, called, Friday in Rabat, for the establishment of an African strategy of reading to ensure optimal dissemination of this practice among the rising generations and young people of the continent.
Africa does not lack writers or publishers, but rather needs to promote the act of reading among its youth, as it is the « weakest link » in the cultural process, stressed the minister at the opening conference of the cultural program of the 27th International Fair of Publishing and Books (SIEL), whose guest of honor is African literature.
The minister, who took part in this conference alongside the Senegalese Minister of Culture and Communication, Abdoulaye Diop, considered it necessary to reflect today on the establishment of an African reading strategy, as well as on a mechanism for creating a network of publishers on the continent in order to ensure the presence of African publications in each of its countries.
This is a « great challenge that we must all take up to win together », he insisted, noting that the SIEL in Rabat represents one of the efforts made to highlight the interest in books and popularise reading.
He also highlighted the diversification of the cultural programme and the large number of African publishing houses participating in this edition of the SIEL, adding that this attests to « the richness and potential of African literature and writers ».
The event, which runs from 2 to 12 June, is an opportunity to promote African cultures and bring together writers and publishers from the continent, he said, stressing that the presence of the Senegalese Minister of Culture and Communication at the opening of the SIEL reflects the distinguished relations of brotherhood and friendship that unite the two brotherly countries.
Mr Bensaid added that this presence also carries a « special symbolic significance », given that Senegal currently holds the rotating presidency of the African Union.
The choice of African literature as guest of honour at the 27th SIEL reflects the multidimensional links between Moroccan culture and the cultures of sister African countries and is in line with HM King Mohammed VI’s enlightened vision for the promotion of South-South cooperation.
According to the organisers, this event is marked by the participation of 712 exhibitors representing 55 countries around the world. A wide range of publications will be presented, reflecting a diversity and richness which, in figures, reaches 100,000 titles.
The programme includes a rich and varied cultural menu, with six spaces for meetings and debates between a large number of professionals as well as creators, writers and researchers from various fields and backgrounds, from Morocco and the rest of the world.
In addition to conferences, presentations of new publications and poetry evenings in which 380 speakers will participate, other activities will take place, including the awarding of the Ibn Battouta Prize for Travel Literature, the Young Poets’ Prize and the National Reading Prize. Various activities are also planned for children in the fields of education, art and science, supervised by 63 facilitators.