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First PEN/UNESCO Minority Language Publishing Project Events take place in Nigeria and Serbia

Thursday 6 November 2014 - 3:44pm


With the support of the UNESCO International Fund for Cultural Diversity, PEN International has undertaken a major new research and capacity building programme, working with PEN Centres in Kenya, Serbia, Haiti, and Nigeria to strengthen the minority language creative publishing industries in these countries.

Last month, the project commenced with events at Port Harcourt Book Festival in Nigeria and at Belgrade Book Fair in Serbia.

DSC_0060Port Harcourt Book Festival

On October 22, during the Port Harcourt Book Festival, Nigeria (Port Harcourt is UNESCO World Book Capital 2014), PEN Nigeria and PEN International ran a high profile event entitled: 'What does your mother tongue mean to an understanding of literature and identity? Why does literary translation matter, and what gets lost in translation? Leading writers discuss local and international writing, its reception, and the politics of language’ with the participation of Tade Ipadeola (PEN Nigeria), Ken Saro-Wiwa Jnr, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf (Cassava Republic), Kenyan writer Stanley Gazemba and leading editor Ellah Allfrey.

PEN Nigeria and PEN International also hosted a training seminar for local publishers and writers on October 24, led by Ellah Allfrey, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, Olúwáfirópò Ewénlá (PEN Nigeria) Professor Dele Layiwola (PEN Nigeria), writers Shadreck Chikoti and Rotimi Babatunde and Professor Ebiegberi Alagoa. The aim of the seminar was to discuss barriers to writing and publishing in local languages in Nigeria where English is by far the most dominant market language. The talk also centred on the best ways to advocate for the protection of, and promotion of, local languages with the aim of encouraging their distribution in print, thereby strengthening the publishing industry.

Click here for a summary of Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation: PEN/‘Africa39’ writers’ reception

Belgrade Book Fair

PEN International, Serbian PEN, and the Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee hosted a fact-finding discussion for publishers, editors, and translators with an interest in minority language publishing at the international Belgrade Book Fair, Serbia, on Tuesday 29 October. The discussion was the first public meeting in the country for our UNESCO research, advocacy and development project.

The annual Belgrade Book Fair is the oldest and largest book fair in the Balkans. Open to the public, it also attracts the largest attendance of any literary event in the region. The discussion was led by Zoran Paunović, Vida Ognjenović - who are heading up the project in Serbia - and Simona Škrabec, Chair of the PEN International Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee. The discussion explored the barriers and potential for minority language publishing in the country, and results will compared to findings in the three other participating countries: Haiti, Kenya and Nigeria.

All of these events were run with the support of UNESCO's International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD). For more information on the project click here.