2021 Book Fair targets women, goes hybrid

The 20th Nigeria International Book Fair themed ‘Awakening the Giant in Women for the Growth of the Book Ecosystem’, will hold physically and virtually.

The Nigeria International Book Fair (NIBF) had held physically for 18 years until 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. Rather than risk the lives of book lovers through exposure to the virus, the Nigerian Book Fair Trust (NBFT), which organises the annual event, decided on a virtual event.

Though the pandemic is still raging, the 20th annual convention holding from July 27 to 29 will be a hybrid event. With ‘Awakening the Giant in Women for the Growth of the Book Ecosystem’ as its theme, it will not happen at its traditional venue, the University of Lagos, but at Harbour Point Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos State.

“Despite the ups and downs that the world has been witnessing over a year due to the COVID-19, all is now set for the 20th edition of the Nigeria International Book Fair”, Chair, NBFT, GbadegaAdedapo, began at a briefing in Lagos on Thursday.

He continued, “The last one year has made us realise that any enterprise without an online presence will die naturally. As a trust, we are embracing the new normal as this year’s book fair will be hybrid.”

Adedapo, who briefed alongside board members of the NBFT, explained that though hybrid, major Fair’s activities would happen. Key among these is the international conference on July 27 with the President, International Publishers Association (IPA)  SheikhaBodour Al-Qasimi, physically delivering the keynote speech.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, will be the special guest of honour at the conference. At the same time, the wife of the Ekiti State Governor, BisiFayemi, is the chairperson.

Explaining Fayemi’s choice, Adedapo said she “has consistently been a strong voice for policy advocacy for women and child development particularly in Africa and beyond, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5, through her various grassroots initiatives, policy engagements and movement in building social justice.”

Lagos State Governor, BabajideSanwo-Olu, is the chief host and his wife, Dr IbironkeSanwo-Olu, will open the exhibition component of the Fair.

Adedapo said other activities, including seminars and workshops, were carefully curated “to harmonise the interest of women and discuss strategies to empower women in the book value-chain for the benefits of all and sundry.”

The Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) and the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) will organise expository workshops during the Fair. Other significant associations in the Nigerian book sector, including the Nigerian Publishers Association, The Booksellers Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Library Association, Association of Nigerian Authors and Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria, will also organise seminars for their members.

“The Pan African Writers Association (PAWA), Nigerian Association of the Blind, Reproduction Right Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG), UN SDG African Book Club, African Publishers Network (APNET), Knowledge Beyond Limited, Centre for Law and Business and Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria would also feature their respective programmes during the 3-day hybrid event,” Adedapo said.

The 2021 Fair, he further disclosed, would also feature book launches. “Apart from the latest directory of members that the Booksellers Association of Nigeria will launch, the latest book by Dr Wale Okediran will also be launched in the course of the book fair,” he said.

Innovations organisers have introduced for this year’s fair open to every registered person include a Spelling Bee and Mathematics competitions and cultural presentation.

Adedapo also allayed COVID-19 fears, disclosing that the Lagos State Safety Commission had certified the Fair. They would also not joke with necessary protocols, including temperature checks, sanitisers and use of face masks.

On plans for the Fair, the NBFT Chair disclosed that as of 2022, awards would be introduced for constituent bodies. “These shall include categories such as Best Author, Best Bookseller, Best Literary Work, Best Printer, Best Librarian, Best Publisher, and so on. We believe this will drive more participation in subsequent editions. The selection criteria and the award committee shall be unfolded soonest,” he said.

Adedapo didn’t fail to acknowledge the new Copyright Bill sent to the National Assembly for passage into law, noting that it would send a warning to pirates and copyright violators when passed.

During the briefing, some of the NBFT board members with Adedapo were the pioneer Chair of the board, Mr Dayo Alabi, Trustee, Mrs RonkeOrimolade, President, Nigerian Publishers Association,  ChiefUchenna Cyril Anioke and President,  Booksellers Association of Nigeria, Mr Dare Oluwatuyi.

The others were the President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Mr CamilusChimaUkah, President, Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria, Mr OlugbemiMalomo, President, Nigeria Library Association, Professor Isa Ekoja and the Executive Secretary of the Trust, Mr Biodun Omotubi.

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