Africa39 is a Hay Festival and Rainbow Book Club project
Hay Festivals is an international non-profit organization based in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. We have been creating festivals for 24 years that explore and celebrate literature and ideas. We run festivals in the UK (Hay-on-Wye), Spain (Segovia), Colombia, (Cartagena and Bogotá), Kenya (Nairobi), India (Kerala), Mexico (Xalapa) Budapest (Hungary) and Lebanon (Beirut).
We have collaborated in the creation of other well-known literary festivals such as Mantova (Italy) and Parati (Brazil). We run the 39 Project to identify emerging writers through the UNESCO World Capitals of the Book project – firstly in Bogotá (2007) and later in Beirut (2010).
In 2009 Hay Festivals won The Queens Award for International Trade for its work creating international festivals and promoting literature, education and literacy.
‘The Woodstock of the Mind’ – Bill Clinton
Hay Festival is held in Hay-on-Wye, a small town of 1,300 people, and this event gathers together more than 700 writers during 10 days. This celebration of literature, comedy, debate, food, world music and performance brings over 100,000 people annually to Hay. Bill Clinton attended the festival in 2001 and 180 million people around the world watched his speech on BBC World. We have welcomed authors as diverse as Mario Vargas Llosa, Elias Khoury, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Wole Soyinka, Margaret Atwood, Ismail Kadare, Doris Lessing and Orhan Pamuk; artists Jake and Dinos Chapman, Antony Gormley, Sarah Lucas, Sam Taylor-Wood; architects Richard Rogers and Shigeru Ban; and political figures such as Wangari Maathai, Bill Clinton, Nick Clegg and Jimmy Carter, among many others.
About the Rainbow Book Club
The Rainbow Book Club (RBC) seeks to contribute to the development of African society by encouraging people to read, in the belief that reading is one of the keys to creating an enlightened and self-empowering society. In particular, the RBC promotes reading among children and young adults.
In 2005, the RBC kicked off the ‘Get Nigeria Reading Again!' campaign, and with an army of volunteers has worked to create an awareness of the correlation between reading and building a successful nation. The programmes of the RBC have included organising reading lessons for children as well as setting up and running book clubs in rural communities. In addition, RBC has run reading workshops for students and teachers, developed libraries and helped to promote the works of African authors. Over 1,000 students in over 100 schools across Nigeria have participated in RBC activities.
In 2008 the RBC began an initiative to inspire children to read by having role models read popular books to them. This project was inaugurated by the former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, who read to students at the UN House in Abuja, on UN World Book and Copyright Day in 2008. Since then, other participants have included Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, American Civil Rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson, former Vice-President (Africa) of the World Bank and former Minister for Education, Dr Obi Ezekwesili, and Nigerian Federal Ministers and Governors. Many of these influential readers have become honourary members of the Rainbow Book Club and they serve as influential ambassadors for the club’s visionary reading campaigns.
Over the years, RBC has collaborated with various partners to maximise its reach. Organisations such as UNESCO, the British Council, the Alliance Française, the Association of Nigerian Authors, the Federal Ministry of Education, the Federal Ministry of Information, State Governments and several corporate bodies like Shell and Total have worked with RBC on different projects. The Rainbow Book Club partners with the Rivers State Government to organise the annual Garden City Literary Festival (now the Port Harcourt Book Festival).
In 2012 the Rainbow Book Club published Nigerian Literature – A Coat Of Many Colours, a large illustrated book featuring 50 Nigerian writers in 50 years of independence. The foreword to this book was written by the President of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
With the support of the Government of Rivers State, the Rainbow Book Club put in the bid that led to the emergence of Port Harcourt as UNESCO World Book Capital 2014. In 2014, the book club will work with the Rivers State Government and other development partners to host and facilitate a year of exciting literary events as Port Harcourt assumes the prestigious title of UNESCO’s World Book Capital City. The Rainbow Book Club was founded by Koko Kalango and is part of the R.E.A.D. Africa Foundation, an NGO registered in Nigeria.