YouTube launches marathon to drive reading culture among Africans

As part of efforts to boost reading culture among youths, YouTube has unveiled “Africa Reading Challenge,” an online reading marathon featuring authors, influencers and key opinion leaders across the region.

According to the platform, the initiative is to also help popularise the works of African authors across the continent. The personalities would read extracts from The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, a novel by African-born Nigerian poet, Lola Shoneyin. The book is an entertaining and enlightening portrayal of polygamy in modern-day Nigeria. It reveals the struggles, rivalries, intricate family politics, and interplay of personalities within the complex private world of a polygamous union.

The novel emerged as the top choice by Africans in a Google Africa survey conducted last July, which asked social media followers on a novel by an African author they would like to be read live on YouTube.

About 40 people across Africa have since been selected to kick-start the challenge, among whom are media entrepreneur and talk show host, Agatha Amatha, motivational speaker, Olujimi Tewe; philanthropist and writer, Betty Irabor; performance coach and strategist Steve Harris as well as career and business coach, Muyiwa Afolabi, all from Nigeria.

From Kenya are writers and storytellers, Muthoni Garland and James Murua; creative writers, Anne Moraa and Aleya Kassam; actor and journalist, John Sibi-Okumu; poet and actress, Laura Ekumbo; actor and writer, Mugambi Nthiga.

From South Africa are TV presenter and philanthropist, Maps Mapoyane; media personality, Penny Lebyane; actress and model, Pearl Thusi; storyteller and sociologist, Uphile Chisala; and marketer, Khaya Dlanga.

Speaking on the initiative, Google’s Managing Director for Africa, Nitin Gajria, expressed hope that the move would enhance reading culture in the continent.

He added: “Bookworms can join the challenge by sharing a 10-second video on their social channels, reading same book and nominating their friends to do same.

“Free access to read The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives are available for one month via the OneRead App. This offer is aimed specifically at those eager to join the challenge, but who do not have access to a physical copy of the book,” she added.


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