Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga launched the largest publication project for indigenous language fiction in South Africa’s history at this year’s SA book Fair on September 8.
The project is the brain child of publisher Via Afrika and is called WritePublishRead. It will give unpublished local writers of indigenous language fiction the chance to be published in their home language. By promoting writing in indigenous languages, the project aims to encourage South Africans to read more and invigorate the local publishing industry.
Less than 1% of books in South African libraries are in indigenous languages despite the fact that these are the home languages of 76% of the population. This lack of relevant reading materials contributes to an astounding 60% of South Africans living in a home without a single book. According to the South African Book Development Council, only 14% of South Africans read regularly so giving South Africans access to books digitally, via any mobile device, in the language of their choice, will have a massive impact on the country’s reading and literacy rates.
Similarly copyright industries contribute 4% to South Africa’s GDP. Meeting the under-serviced reading needs of 76% of the population will have a significant impact on the publishing industry. By giving black authors the tools to meet the needs of their own communities, WritePublishRead will transform the current publishing landscape and create opportunities for empowerment at an individual level.