Speech by Deputy Minister on the occasion of the closing ceremony of the 6th Funda Mzantsi National Championship at the Eagle Nest Ministries Hall in Pacaltsdorp in George

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07 Oct 2015

Today marks the culmination of a three day festival of ideas. In its 6th year, the Funda Mzantsi National Championship epitomises gigantic step towards the creation of a reading nation.

Pursuant to instil a culture of reading, the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, said

“For an individual, reading opens up new worlds, reveals new ideas and suggests new opportunities.

For a nation, reading is a gateway to a different, better future. A winning nation actively promotes reading.

Reading books is not just an enjoyable past time. It is an integral part of our struggle to be a free and prosperous nation.”

Themed “Developing Creative Minds” the Centre for the Book’s Funda Mzantsi Championship project was initiated in response to the survey conducted by the South African Book Development Council in 2007 on general reading habits in South African communities. The report of the survey revealed that South Africa is not a reading nation.

More than 30 book clubs including inmates from different correctional facilities and learners from different schools descended on George to compete against their peers at the 6th Funda Mzatsi National Championship on reading, book review and debate.

The usage of indigenous languages in this championship demonstrates that we are a country that embraces diversity. South Africa belongs to all who live in it and we are united in our diversity. South Africans are socially diverse, yet are united by their love for our country.

It is through reading that we will continue to ensure that our diversity and unique heritage unite us as a nation.

Reading will take us on a journey to discover who are we as a people and embrace our diversity. It is said that a nation that does not preserve its culture and heritage is a lost nation.

This championship remains a great milestone as we instil the love of reading, improve book reviewing techniques and cultivate the ability to publicly engage in fruitful debates.

The Department of Arts and Culture working together with the Library Association of South Africa (LIASA) and the National Library of South Africa hosted successfully the 81st International Federation of Libraries Association (IFLA) conference in Cape Town.

For the first time IFLA conference was preceded by the Pre Conference Ministerial meeting for African Ministers of Culture and Library Services wherein we adopted a Declaration in which we committed to:

  • Provide the necessary resources for the development of African libraries to respond to modern day challenges and provide access to emerging technologies;
  • Support the establishment of a Pan African library organisation to provide a platform for networking and resource mobilisation;
  • Encourage the sharing of skills, collection and preservation of African stories from our own communities.

During Heritage month we launched the sixth National Book Week under the two faceted theme “Hash tag Going Places”…..Hash tag Buy a Book”.

#GOINGPLACES, reflects the physical journey of National Book Week travelling throughout South Africa, as well as the magic of books and how reading books can both figuratively and literally take you places.

#BUYABOOK at a nominal cost of R2O during Book Week and donate it to others.

It aims to create better-informed and self-reliant communities by investing in the literacy of young people and underprivileged adults.

In April, we conducted door to door reading awareness campaign as part of World Book Day in Gauteng wherein 12 400 books were donated to schools, households, old age homes and correctional services.

I would like to applaud each and every participant for taking part in the 2015 Funda Mzantsi National Championship. All of you are reading ambassadors.

I appeal to all of you to promote this important initiative of encouraging the nation to value reading as a fun and pleasurable activity, and to showcase how reading can easily be incorporated into one’s daily lifestyle.

The National Development Plan states that:

“Arts and culture open powerful spaces for debate about where a society finds itself and where it is going.

I thank you.