Durban bids to become UNESCO City of Literature

Darryl Earl David is the founder of Booktown Richmond and at least 10 other literary festivals in the country.

LECTURER in the School of Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Darryl Earl David, is a man on a mission to make Durban UNESCO’s City of Literature.

To date, there are 20 Cities of Literature around the world, with David working towards making Durban the 21st. The winning city is to be announced by UNESCO in October.

“We have lodged our formal announcement with UNESCO that Durban is going to bid to become South Africa’s and Africa’s first UNESCO City of Literature. Iowa, which is America’s UNESCO’s City of Literature, has agreed to act as mentor city to Durban, and it has really been a huge help having a team who have walked down this path before,” said David.

He said that the late announcement of Durban’s bid should not be construed as a rushed attempt or an attempt to exclude writers from the process. In fact, it was all part of the grand design. “When you are striving for undeniably the biggest literature project in the history of South Africa, one that you have been working on for nearly five years, you don’t want to go around bragging about this and giving other cities ideas. This is the holy grail for bibliophiles,” says David.

UNESCO’s City of Literature programme is part of its Creative Cities Network, launched in 2004. The network was born out of UNESCO’s Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity initiative, which was created in 2002.

Its aim is to promote the social, economic and cultural development of cities in both the developed and the developing world. The cities in the network promote their local creative scene and conform to UNESCO’s goal of fostering cultural diversity.

“An important aspect of the Creative Cities concept is that the cities foster public/private partnerships particularly by encouraging the entrepreneurial and creative potential of small enterprises. Literature is just one of several categories of Creative Cities. Others include music, film, media, gastronomy, crafts and folk art and design,” explained David.

David assures all Durban writers that should Durban be awarded UNESCO status, it would celebrate not only the literati from all across the globe, but also, first and foremost, Durban writers.

“I hope that UNESCO status will open the doors to international writers for Durban. That is, after all, the rationale for UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. Through this cultural exchange, we can create something memorable in Durban. We are hopeful that come 31 October, it will be Durban’s time,” he said.



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