“Unfortunately, we will not be having any response from the Norwegian Embassy, because they are grieving from what happened last week on Friday,” Dr Xavier F Carelse, ZIBF’s Acting Executive Director, told the more than 400 authors gathered at the five star Monomotapa Crowne Plaza Hotel in Harare.
The book gurus had gathered for the two-day Indaba for authors which is held before the annual ZIBF Book Fair begins.
The ZIBF begins on July 28 and goes on until July 30 in the Harare Gardens. This year’s theme is : “Books For Africa’s Development”.
The ZIBF is the “largest Book Fair in Africa” attended by top local and international scholars from across the divide.
On Friday, last week tragedy struck in Oslo, Norway, when that country’s most notorious murderer allegedly gunned down 93 innocent citizens in the city centre. He shot some of his victims on their heads at close range.
This event is regarded as the “most brutal event in Norway for years” according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Cable News Network (CNN), the world’s major cable news networks.
A closed Court hearing during which even the Media were barred, was held in camera in Oslo, Norway, on Monday, for the “notorious criminal” who pleaded “not guilty”. He said he did not regret the move despite the fact that he had killed innocent civilians in the process.
Norwegian Professor Helge Ronning, Guest of Honour at this year’s ZIBF then gave the Embassy’s “message”.
This was mainly because the Embassy of Norway is this year’s major ZIBF sponsor, followed by Zimbabwe’s Culture Fund currently led by Farai Mupfunya, and the British Council, whose representative, however, ruffled the feathers of the Deputy Minister of Education, Arts, Sport and Culture, Dr Lazarus Dokora.
The British Council representative told the more than 400 authors gathered that while he represented Britain, he was not there to “tell Zimbabweans what to do and how to write their books”.
“We are not here to cause trouble as some people might allege,” he said amid murmurs from the gathering.
“We (Britain) try as much as possible not to dictate or to tell people what to do. What we do is not only right but relevant.”
This statement, apparently, did not go down well with Deputy Minister Dokora from the former ruling party Zanu (PF) led by President Robert Mugabe.
Dokora then said he would not comment on what had been said by the British representative despite the fact that he had a lot “of things to say about it”.
The British and Zimbabwe are at loggerheads over the controversial Land Resettlement Programme where President Mugabe says they (British) must pay for compensation to the White commercial farmers booted out of their farms under the programme begun in 2000.
Zimbabwe had about 4 500 commercial farmers in the country, then regarded as the breadbasket of southern Africa.
Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, while in office, said Britain would not dish out a single “penny” to the farmers because this issue was between Zimbabweans and not his government”.
President Mugabe and his party have now continued to bash the British and the Americans for allegedly trying to topple his “legitimate” government whom they have slapped with punitive sanctions and travel bans to their countries.
Meanwhile, the Acting ZIBF Executive Director, Carelse, revealed that this year’s event was sold out.
“The Book Fair itself will be held as from July 28 until July 30, and it has been sold out,” he told the gathering.
“The 75 stands are completely sold out and for the first time we have Doctors Without Borders exhibiting at ZIBF 2011. This is great because it returns us to about five or six years ago when this was the major book event in Africa.”
During the two-day Indaba at the Monomotapa Crowne Plaza Hotel top authors including Kay Shiri, Dr Angeline Kamba, Dr Emma Phiri, Dr Orseline Carelse, and Musaemura Zimunya made presentations to the public.
The issues covered included Zimbabwe’s Book Policy, Cultural Diversity, raising Social Awareness, Getting Books to the People, Technology For The Challenged, Legal Access To Copyright And The Threat Of Piracy, and Information Technology.
These topics were rounded off by the issuing of Publisher’s Book Awards.
The top authors came from such countries as Botswana, South Africa, Malawi, Norway, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the hosts.