Academic Spearheads Bid for Durban to be a UNESCO City of Literature
Lecturer in the School of Arts Mr Darryl Earl David is on a mission to make Durban a UNESCO City of Literature.
There are 20 Cities of Literature around the world, with David working towards making Durban the 21st. The winning city will be announced by UNESCO in October.
‘We have advised UNESCO that Durban is bidding to become South Africa’s and Africa’s first UNESCO City of Literature,’ said David. ‘Iowa, 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 says that the late announcement of Durban’s bid should not be construed as a rushed attempt or a move 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.’
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, 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.
He assured all Durban writers that ‘if we are awarded UNESCO status, we will celebrate not only the literati from all across the globe, but also, first and foremost, Durban writers.’
‘I hope the UNESCO status will open 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. I am quietly confident. Our exco has a good blend of imagineers and pragmatists. We are hopeful that come 31 October, it will be Durban’s time.’
* Darryl Earl David is the founder of Booktown Richmond and at least 10 other literary festivals in South Africa.
Words by: Melissa Mungroo