We extend our gratitude to all those who joined us at the Nairobi International Book Fair (NIBF) from 27th September to 1st October. This year at NIBF, eKitabu was bustling with new and exciting experiments. We thank Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) and the African Publishers Network (APNET) for their advice and collaboration.
eKitabu built a first ever Rights Café at NIBF 2023, where rights-buying professionals from Africa and beyond met with local publishers to mutually explore book rights deals. Our shop.eKitabu was stocked with bookshelves of print books at affordable prices. We also had “mobile bookshelves” that eKitabu colleagues created to sell books during eKitabu main stage activities with panel discussions on professional topics and activities with children.
Blogger James Murua moderated a panel session of Up-and-Coming Kenyan Writers with Ciku Kimeria, Lexa Lubanga, and Eric Rugara as panelists. Journalist Beverly Ochieng led a discussion on Getting Published and Being Published in Kenya with authors Lutivini Majanja, Silas Nyanchwani, and Carey Baraka. Former APNET Chair Samuel Kolawole of Nigeria moderated a session on Rights Trading Perspectives with KPA Chair Kamau Kiarie, legal expert Sharon Wata of Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), Mariana Yasmin Pardini of the Embassy of Argentina in Kenya, and literary agent Raphaël Thierry. Vincent Owino moderated a discussion on Building Literacy of Deaf Learners with KNAD Chair Nickson Kakiri, Allen Neece of USAID Kenya, Dr. Francis Muriithi of Kenyatta University, and Maggie Odhiambo of Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE).
Children enjoyed a range of activities including a Super Lisu Book Talk by author Yolanda Chakava and reading games created around Storymoja’s Wildlife Detectives Series. Studio KSL featured Digital Storytime, live recording sessions, and free Kenyan Sign Language lessons. On Saturday, we had Kunda Kids storytelling and animations alongside face painting and a 360° photo booth. And our friends ChezaCheza Dance Foundation wrapped up Saturday’s Family Fun Day with their signature style and energy they bring to everything they do.
We also hosted the 11th annual Digital Essay Competition (DEC) prizegiving for Primary and Secondary school students alongside our colleagues from the Ministry of Education, including Mr. John Temba and Ms. Sheilah Lutta from Kenya MOE, Richard Mativu from Sense International, Kaitan Mbuya from Ubongo Kids, Dominic Jomo from Blind Pax, Lillian Rague from Correctbook, Bernard Odhiambo from Storymoja, and author Bahati Harrison among others. At the prizegiving, we celebrated the exceptional essays and art of Kenyan young people with and without disabilities countrywide, awarding them with computing devices, scholarship funds, and certificates. Additionally, we acknowledged teachers from winning schools with gift vouchers and certificates. In 2023, we received over 9,600 essays from learners with and without disabilities answering the question: “What would you invent for a better future?” in English, Kiswahili, Kenyan Sign Language, braille, French, German, Arabic, and Art categories.
We are reflecting now on all we learned in preparing, doing, and measuring for many months leading up to these important activities and experiments in which we made many new friends and colleagues and remade and enriched relationships.
Just after the Book Fair we also lost a longtime eKitabu colleague and friend, Mr. Dickson Kilonzi, who passed away on Sunday 8th October at Kenyatta Hospital while receiving treatment. Dickson joined eKitabu in July 2017 and served as Logistics Officer until his passing. He viewed eKitabu as part of his family and his dedication was always evident. Dickson’s burial was on Saturday 21st at his home in Kitui. As we and Dickson’s family and friends mourn him and miss him, we will also keep his memory in our hearts.