The google-owned streaming platform, YouTube, has just rolled out an online reading marathon intended to boost African literature.
Dubbed as ‘African Reading Challenge,’ the program will back African writers in general and will host about 54 readers from Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.
To ensure an equal shot at the new development, each of the countries mentioned above will delegate 18 representatives to read during the challenge.
These delegates will read excerpts from the book The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, a novel by Lola Shoneyin, an African-born Nigerian poet.
Currently, seven renowned Kenyan artists, including Muthoni Garland (writer), storyteller James Murua, creative writers Anne Moraa and Aleya Kassam (actor), have been selected so far national level.
From Nigeria, Media entrepreneur and talk show host Agatha Amatha, motivational speaker Olujimi Tewe, philanthropist and writer Betty Irabor, performance coach and strategist Steve Harris, and career and business coach Muyiwa Afolabi have been selected so far.
Representing South Africa in the latest selection are TV presenter and philanthropist Maps Maponyane, media personality Penny Lebyane, actress and model Pearl Thusi, storyteller and sociologist Upile Chisala, and award-winning marketer Khaya Dlanga.
The month-long reading challenge will hold virtually
The entire challenge will be held virtually over the next month, allowing for more participation across the Africa continent.
According to YouTube, other than the officially selected representatives, bookworms can also participate in the challenge by sharing a 10-second video across their social media channels.
Although not mandatory, participants can also read the same book and nominate their friends to do the same.
Also, to encourage mass participation, YouTube is making provision for the focus book to be accessible for free for one month.
Hence, interested participants can access the book – The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives via OneRead app.
About The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives portrays what polygamy looks like in modern-day Nigeria.
Of course, not that it is much different from what it used to be, but the story is told in a different light.
Although very humorous, the story reveals “the struggles, rivalries, intricate family politics, and the interplay of personalities and relationships within the complex private world of a polygamous union.”
Laureen Mayoye – a bibliophile and student at the University of Nairobi who has read the book, said she is happy that a book that helps break traditional stereotypes on barrenness will be read aloud.
“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,” Ms. Mayoye said.
The book has been nominated for a couple of awards and has emerged as the top choice by Africans in a Google Africa survey conducted in July 2020.
In a Twitter poll published last year, netizens were asked by Google Africa to suggest the book they would wish to be read out loud on YouTube.
So far, a total of 40 representatives have been selected across Africa; they will kick off the YouTube Africa Challenge officially while others will join along the way.
In the meantime, the participants will be reading from its pages, encouraging others to join them too.