Durban wants to be ‘literary capital of South Africa’


Durban wants to be ‘literary capital of South Africa’

Shelley Seid | 2017-04-06 12:17:14.0

Durban CBD

Image by: Facebook/Metric Edge – Cost and Construction Consultants

Here’s one for the books – Durban is preparing to bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature‚ the 21st in the world and the first in Africa.

Cities that hold the title include Melbourne‚ Iowa‚ Dublin and Granada in Spain. The bid is being prepared by a committee of six that includes writers‚ academics and a representative of the municipality.

Darryl David‚ a lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal who is coordinating the bid‚ said the designation could make Durban “the literary capital of South Africa”. David has founded a number of literary festivals around the country including the inaugural Soweto Literary festival held last year.

The UNESCO programme was launched in 2004 when Edinburgh became the world’s first City of Literature. Today‚ 20 cities are part of the network‚ which aims to encouraging literary exchanges‚ creating cross-cultural initiatives and developing local‚ national and international literary links can boast the designation.

According to the UNESCO website‚”Each City is dedicated to pursuing excellence in literature on a local level‚ engaging citizens in a dynamic culture of words”. David said the potential benefits to Durban would be massive.

“This will allow Durban to host a truly iconic literary festival…and don’t forget the economic impetus such a tourism project will bring. Festivals like the Vancouver Writers Festival attract 80 000 visitors.

That is what we must dream of for Durban. This will undoubtedly be the biggest literary news in the history of South Africa‚” he said. For 2017 UNESCO are calling specifically for candidate cities in Africa‚ which‚ it said‚ are under-re presented within the network.

The bid has to be submitted by midnight June 16‚ South Africa’s Youth Day. The designated cities will be announced on October 31.

“We are now down to the last yards and we are quietly confident‚” said David. The Ethekwini municipality confirmed it was currently following internal council processes regarding the application.

TMG Digital/The Times

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