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Saturday, November 18, 2017


(Libraries & Heritage Dept Senior manager Tebogo Mzizi, City Manager Sipho Nzuza, Chairperson of Community Services Committee Zama Sokhabase, MEC Sihle Zikakala, Mayor Zandile Gumede, Zainub Dala & Consul General of America, Sherry Sykes)

As a UNESCO City of Literature, Durban is committed to building a welcoming and co-operative network that reflects the diversity and richness of the world’s languages and literatures. This was the commitment made by Mayor Zandile Gumede at the celebration ceremony and official announcement that Durban is a UNESCO City of Literature, a title bestowed upon the City by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Mayor Gumede said that the UNESCO Cities of Literature is a global network of cities who specialise in the literary arts. “We are now part of that family and network. The UNESCO City of Literature recognises excellence and places an obligation on us to nurture and support art form and collaborate internationally by sharing best practice, supporting freedom of speech and through projects which ensure that literature reaches as wide and diverse an audience as possible, locally and internationally. We are indeed excited to be part of the network.”

The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, also expressed his excitement at the announcement. He emphasised that the accolade did not only belong to Durban and KwaZulu-Natal, but the African continent as a whole. “Beyond joining the likes of Manchester; Milan and Seattle as citadels for literary excellence, we consider this accolade as an omen for the inclusion of yet more African cities in a list that is, by and large, still dominated by European cities.” Zikalala also acknowledged the important contribution made by the written word in documenting, decolonising and immortalising authentic African stories and experiences.

The Consul General of America, Sherry Sykes commended the City for its commitment to promoting arts, culture and literacy through various programmes. “Having creative hubs such as the Bat Centre, Playhouse and Durban Art Gallery in one precinct is what makes Durban unique from other cities and that is why the City deserved this recognition,” she said.

Durban is the first City in Africa to have the prestigious title bestowed upon them. The award follows a year-long process of drawing up the bid documents and consulting stakeholders NGO's, private organisations, the business sector, writers, poets, writer Organisations and the academic fraternity after the application was made to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Some of the benefits of the title include;

•International recognition for Durban as a Literary City which will attract creative individuals to live and work in the City.

•Cultural exchange which will enrich Durban’s literary and cultural life as well as provide exposure to international talent.

•The Literary City status will assist marketing of Durban as a tourist destination and has potential to increase the tourism base.

•Cultural exchange potential through the network will enrich Durban’s literary and cultural life.

•Durban has a racial mix that is representative of the whole country as we have writers from all racial groups and is therefore well positioned to promote the diversity of writing that exists.

•The Literary City status will help to economically sustain and develop the writing and book related industries in Durban.

•Membership of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network will lay the foundation for future collaborations, partnerships, events, programmes and projects pertaining to the ongoing development of Durban as a Literary City.