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The city of Port Harcourt. Photo:
The Rainbow Book Club has for a long time now been at the frontline of promoting literature in the country. Taking a bold step further from their annual literary event, they entered a bid in June this year to stage the bi-annual World Book Festival in Port Harcourt. The bid, according to organisers, was supported by the Bring Back the Book project, an initiative of President Goodluck Jonathan, which was inaugurated in December 2010. Yesterday, Wednesday, July 11, 2012, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced the selection of Port Harcourt as the 2014 World Book Capital. This is the first time the title has gone to any city in Sub Saharan Africa, in a bidding contest which included prestigious cities like Oxford in England, and it is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the organisers of The Rainbow Book Club. UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, in a news release, endorsed the commitment of Port Harcourt to support literacy through the activities organized for the year, extolling the quality of its proposed programme, which aims to develop reading for all. The city of Port Harcourt was chosen because of the quality of the programme it presented which focused on youth and the impact it will have on improving Nigeria’s culture of books, reading, writing and publishing to improve literacy rates. The World Book Capital is an annual award granted by UNESCO which acknowledges the best year-long programme proposed by a city to promote books and foster reading. Each year, a selection committee, comprising of associations in the book industry – among which are the International Publishers Association and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions – bestows the award on a city, in any nation, all around the world. There is no financial prize for the organisers, but it is a significant acknowledgement and endorsement of their programme dedicated to books and reading, which was regarded as most worthy this year. In 2010 the designation as World Book Capital was bestowed upon Ljubljana, Slovenia, and in 2011 it was Buenos Aires, Argentina. Port Harcourt is the 14th city to receive such honour.

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This article was first published on 12th July 2012 and updated on July 17th, 2012 at 9:14 am

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