Uganda's literary scene has received a boost with the launch of a marketplace for ideas.
The Uganda Book Market is an open and interactive space that seeks to close the gap between writers, readers, publishers, literary performers and booksellers. The idea is to make Uganda’s and African literature in general more visible and accessible.
The Uganda Book Market is open to different literary genres including novels, drama, poetry - written and performed — short stories, oral literature, literary criticism, biographies and conversations on the reading and writing culture in the region.
It is a collaboration between the Uganda Women Writers Association (Femrite), The Uganda Society, and the African Studies Book Store alongside Akira Digital, Lantern Meet of Poets and Writivism — a literary initiative that promotes African and Caribbean literature.
The book market was launched at the Uganda National Museum in Kampala on July 28. Activities included bookselling, a public reading, book signings and a bonfire poetry night.
“Femrite is excited to have initiated the book market alongside its partners,” said the head of Femrite, Hilda Twongyeirwe.
The idea was born on May 26, and started out with the Kampala Book Market Edition. Three other editions followed. They take place every last Saturday of the month at the Uganda National Museum. The organisers now plan to hold the events across the country.
A 2016 survey by Femrite in partnership with the Centre for Culture and Development found that among the challenges facing the Ugandan literature scene are a poor reading culture, few and inaccessible bookshops and the lack of creative bookselling initiatives.
“Ugandans are buying books but not to the level we want them to, mainly because the culture of reading has not been inculcated in them,” said Ms Twongyeirwe. “Upbringing and the school system have not helped.”
Ms Twongyeirwe said that it is important for publishers to access bookshops in order to boost book sales.
“We hope the book market will offer writers and publishers the publicity they need,” she said.