Registered under the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe

29 July 2011

2011 ZIBF Indaba Conference Highlights: Part Three

By WINZ Staff Writer

Tuesday, July 26, was the last day of the Indaba conference, with three sessions to discuss different topics.

Interesting were all the topics but what came up during discussions seemed to circle around issues of ‘legal access to copyright & the threat of piracy’, and ‘information technology’.

While one of the day’s sessions excellently tackled “Technology for the Challenged”, under which were three presentations on different topics, this issue should have been taken seriously.

The first ever presentation to use video conferencing technology since the annual Indaba conference was inaugurated was by Mrs. Carla Leonardi who presented her paper “Technical aids for Children with Disabilities” from Italy. The motif in her paper was that ICT’s have assisted and given hope to children with disabilities the world over.

Nozipho Khanda said it is important for Zimbabwe to get involved in technology when dealing with children with special needs. Presenting her paper “To be blind in Zimbabwe in a Global Digital Age”, Khanda narrated her experience as a visually challenged person.
In most cases, gadgets designed for the visually impaired are expensive, she said. However, technology assisted her to be what she is today.

Mrs Hannah Maisiri from the Ministry of Education, Sport, Art and Culture who presented the paper “Special Needs” was practical as she  had enough sign language charts to give to every Indaba participant and said she hoped that children with special needs will not be a forgotten constituency in society.

She also said the first ever sign language dictionary will soon be available in Zimbabwe.

The availability of technical aids for the disabled is mostly affected by their high costs, leaving rural communities without help, she said.

College Press Sales Director Cletus Ngwaru said there is need to intensify the anti-piracy campaign that will also involve the schools. He presented a paper titled “Piracy and Book Development” while another speaker who tackled related issue was Greenfield Chilongo of Zimcopy whose paper was titled “Effective Licensing models in Literature”. (Willy Mushayi, who was supposed to speak about “Copyright Act and Piracy”, was not present).

Participants were urged to take copyright from a positive viewpoint. Professor Helge Ronning, while contributing in the discussions, said photocopying and new technologies are useful to teachers, but there should be compensation for using copyrighted material. Others said the money obtained from fees paid for using copyrighted material can be invested in writing to promote authorship.

Zimbabwean writers were strongly urged to embrace technology to market their works universally while being cognizant of copyright issues.

Collence Chisita, who is a Senior Lecturer at the Harare Polytechnic specialising in Information Science and Libraries, said ICT’s have transformed libraries from storehouses to access points for the retrieval of information. He added that ICT’S have freed the mind from boring and repetitive tasks, although this again has impacted upon the livelihood of many workers.

Chisita urged writers to blend culture and technology to create local content. However, he said the Internet has its disadvantages and he quoted Kumar who said “Information and Technology is a weapon in the hands of the possessed to further dispossess the dispossessed”.

Founder of Zimbabwe’s leading lifestyle, art and culture website Zimbojam, who is also an author and photographer, Fungai James Tichawangana was clear in his question why most Zimbabwean writers are not online. He noted that a lot of local writers do not have an official channel of communication and asked if this was a matter arrogance or ignorance.

His paper was titled “Marketing the writers online”.

The internet, said Tichawangana, does a lot for a writer. The writer establishes a personal following, create an international audience, provide a platform for selling and marketing one’s work and creates legacy that more established writers do not have, he said.

Citing Munyori Literary Journal, Storytime, Ignatius Mabasa’s website and Petina Gappah’s blog as examples, Tichawangana added that a writers’ online presence creates relationships with readers, editors and agents and eventually leads one to opportunities.

He urged new and established writers to start a personal website, get on to social networking (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc), get someone to write about their works, and get people to read chunks of their works online and contribute to online journals and activities.

Asked what Zimbojam does for writers, Tichawangana said he designs websites for writers while his website, Zimbojam, publishes book reviews, book launches and literary updates.

The rapporteur, who was Josephine Muganiwa, gave her report that captured all the proceedings of the Indaba and the recommendations that came up during discussions. Josephine Muganiwa is a Board Chairperson of Writers International Network Zimbabwe, a Board member of Zimbabwe Women Writers, and a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

This year’s Indaba, which was over-subscribed, then came to a close after the ZIBF Board Chairperson Musaemura Zimunya made his closing remarks and urged all participants to take something from the Indaba and spread the word.
More news about the Zimbabwe Book Publishers Awards that took place an hour after Indaba ended at the same venue will be published later on this blog.


Stephen Chifunyise (veteran playwright): “This year’s Indaba tackled critical issues concerning the development of our book sector, issues which the writers and publishers have to grapple with in the era of technology and piracy. It paid attention to challenges that we must face with strength and collectively.”

Greenfield Chilongo (Director of Zimcopy): “It was very informative and it introduced new subjects such as communication and technology for those people with special needs.  One of the interesting things was the consistent attendance in all sessions. In previous years, Indaba morning sessions had low attendance. The Indaba has reinforced the meaning of the ZIBF and books stand for. We should ensure more interest is put in this event.”

 Virginia Phiri (renowned author): “It was a score as compared to the previous Indabas. Thanks to the writers who came out in full force to take up their place. I think we have done well.”

Cletus Ngwaru (Sales Director, College Press): “The Indaba was very effective because it addressed matters of the heart for writers and publishers. It touched on all components of the book chain, using concrete examples. But we should get some feedback; say at next year’s Indaba people should be updated on the progress of issues tacked this year. We don’t want to talk about the same issue next year.”

Ndai Nyamakura (Independent publisher): “It was good and well-structured, considering the fact that many of the presenters were our own young vibrant book people who understand our situation in the industry. Next year, this should be maintained and complemented with international speakers of course to sustain the internationality of the book fair.”

Musaemura Zimunya (ZIBF Board Chairperson, Writer, and Lecturer): “It has not been in vain that we exhausted ourselves for the two days. If only each of us capture a decent ¼ of knowledge gained at this Indaba, if only we could make it an obsession to develop what we have learnt and spread the word, the ZIBF will achieve its moment of relevance in the communities from where we are coming.”

THE ZIBF is ongoing and ends on Saturday. There are various events such as the writers’ workshop, book exhibitions, Live Literature Centre and Children’s Reading Tent, and lots of networking. Admission is free!!!!!!!!!!!!

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