Google-owned YouTube has launched an online reading marathon dubbed the Africa Reading Challenge as a way of backing African writers.
The online video platform will bring on about 54 readers drawn from Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa where each county will have 18 representatives to read during the challenge, which is also aimed at promoting the reading culture in Africa.
Seven renowned Kenyan artists are part of 18 readers that will be part of the month-long virtual challenge.
They are Muthoni Garland (writer) and storyteller James Murua, creative writers Anne Moraa and Aleya Kassam, actor and journalist John Sibi-Okumu, poet and actress Laura Ekumbo as well as actor-cum-writer Mugambi Nthiga.
In a Twitter poll in July last year, netizens were asked by Google Africa to suggest the book they would wish to be read out loud on YouTube.
The winning book was from a Nigerian poet, Lola Shoneyin, the Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, which was published in 2010.
The book is an entertaining, perceptive and enlightening portrayal of polygamy in modern-day Nigeria that reveals the struggles, rivalries, intricate family politics and the interplay of personalities as well as relationships within the complex private world of a polygamous union.
A bibliophile, Laureen Mayoye, who is excited about the project and has read the book says she is happy that a book that helps in breaking traditional stereotypes on barrenness will be read out loud.
“Childlessness has always been blamed on women, I am happy that the Twitter poll selected a book that is one of my best African literature,” says Ms Mayoye.
The law student at the University of Nairobi says the book is also timely since President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 30, signed the Employment Act to allow parents of adopted children to have a one month leave after notifying their employers. “One may argue that the book was called, Baba Segi’s because a child doesn’t have to be biologically yours so as to be considered your own. An adopted child is also a child and it ties up with the new reforms in the republic,” she explains.
People like Ms Mayoye have been asked to join the challenge by sharing a 10-second video on their social media showing them reading the nominated book using the hashtag #AfricanReadingChallenge. They can also invite friends to join the challenge to foster the reading culture in Africa.