By PRISCA SAM-DURU
THE city of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, came alive on Monday as writers, students, book enthusiasts and stakeholders in the publishing industry, stormed the Garden City, venue of the 2013 Port Harcourt Book Festival (PHBF) which was formerly Garden City Literary Festival.
The annual book event which closes on Saturday, October 26, has in the past six years, metamorphosed into a very popular feast in the academic calendar.
Its birth in 2008 brought with it an influx of writers, the literati, publishers and other stakeholders in the book industry to Port Harcourt.
While aspiring writers, readers, publishers and booksellers from within and outside the country have so far, benefited from the Festival workshops where the likes of Prof. Wole Soyinka, Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo, Prof. Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Capt. Elechi Amadi facilitated. This year’s features two winners of the NLNG sponsored Nigeria Prize for Literature; Chika Unigwe, 2012 winner, and Tade Ipadeola, 2013 winner , they will be facilitating the prose writing and poetry workshops, respectively.
As it is customary, the Book Festival has as its primary aim, to aid the development of deep passion for book reading among Nigerians and this year’s festival tagged: Literature and the Creative Economy, features a writing, drama and arts workshop for children as well as prose, poetry and scriptwriting workshops.
The theme of the festival is derived from the idea that the creative economy is gaining world wide recognition as an important part of the global economy.
It also features intellectually stimulating seminars which afford participants the opportunity to form their own opinions after listening to discussants as they brainstorm on selected relevant topics.
Topics for this year include Literature and the Performing Arts, featuring Comedian Julius “D’Genius” Agwu as one of the discussants; Digital Technology and the Literary Sector; and Museums, Cultural Heritage and the Sustainability of the Creative Industry.
Dr. Popoola, President of the Nigerian Booksellers Association, Ayo Ayeni, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Certified IP practitioner and solicitor of England and Wales, Dr. Blessing Ahiauzu, representative of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), are some of the scheduled discussants.
Explaining the reason for the change of the festival name, the founder of Rainbow Book Club and chief organiser of the festival, Mrs. Koko Kalango, said that rather than continue with Garden City Literary Festival, “using the words ‘Port Harcourt’ would make the festival easily and quickly recognisable.
He added that the wording ‘Book Festival’, widened the content and scope and thus the festival’s appeal. Instead of solely literature-type books, the focus would now be on books in general —motivational, business, memoirs and others.”