On April 23, 2022, Ghana joined the rest of the world to mark World Book and Copyright Day to promote books and reading.
The day, also known as the International Day of the Book, is an annual event organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing and copyright.
In Ghana, the day was commemorated in Accra on April 24, 2022, on the local theme: “Solidifying the book industry and reading for national development.” For us as a country, the celebration of the day, especially this year, is significant as we kickstart the celebration of Accra as the UNESCO World Book Capital.
The main philosophy behind the creation of this title is to promote books and encourage the reading culture in a designated city as well as outside its national borders.
Cities designated as UNESCO World Book Capital undertake to promote books and reading for all ages and population groups within and across national borders, and to organise a programme of activities for the year.
The Daily Graphic applauds Accra to have been selected for 2023 ahead of other cities, including Budapest (Hungary), Jakarta (Indonesia), Constanta (Romania), and Saint-Marc (Haiti). Thus, Accra becomes the 23rd city to hold the title, coming after Guadalajara (Mexico) in 2022.
We see this selection as an honour and a big challenge for Ghana and not just Accra even though the focus is on Accra.
Although Accra was selected based on its strong focus on young people and their potential to contribute to the culture and wealth of the country, it behoves the entire country to rally support around Accra to deliver.
The beautiful thing is that a number of the proposals put forward by Accra that earned her the title are things that are already in place albeit on a low scale.
Proposals such as the reinforcing of school and community infrastructure and institutional support for lifelong learning to foster the culture of reading and the introduction of mobile libraries to reach marginalised geographical areas are things that the Ghana Library Authority is already doing, and Accra has no problem scaling up what has already been started.
Ghana stands to benefit because the UNESCO Book Capital will help create an avenue to unearth and develop creativity. Since the activities of the World Book Capital will span a year, it is expected to bring together all stakeholders in the book industry as part of projecting books and the importance of books and reading.
The event will give authors and potential authors the platform to project their works and bring to the fore their literary creativeness and innovations.
For us at The Daily Graphic this event serves as an opportunity for authors to be motivated to produce good manuscripts for publication. Also, other players in the local book industry such as publishers, designers and illustrators, printers, booksellers and distributors will be projected globally.
We hope that Accra becoming the book capital will help bring the focus on particularly the youth and vulnerable groups in the country such as children, underemployed women, head-porters (kayayei) and persons with disability, to equip them with literacy and employable skills, while promoting the rich Ghanaian cultural heritage.
The Daily Graphic thinks this will create the opportunity for a robust increase in patronage and sale of books. Winning the title will also uplift the local book industry, Accra, as well as the country at large.
That is why it is important that we all rally our support around Accra so that the benefit at the end of the day will be national and not just for Accra. We should use reading to connect our minds irrespective of our backgrounds for social transformation and promote lifelong learning.