While many people are hibernating, sport, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa has used the opportunity to encourage a culture of reading through the Quarantine Book Club.
The online book club which began yesterday morning saw people sharing covers of the book which they were currently reading. The public responded to the minister’s call in droves, posting pictures of books – making the topic to trend on social media.
Books such as We are The Ones We Need by Sihle Bolani, Unbecoming to become by Ayanda Borotho, The Art of Hustling by DJ Sbu, Business & Life Lesson from Black Dragon by Vusi Thembekwayo and Unodumehlezi Kamenzi by Mazisi Kunene were among those posted.
Mthethwa appealed to the public to keep the morale of the nation high while staying indoors to curb the spread of coronavirus, saying “a reading nation is a leading nation!” Speaking to Sowetan through his spokesperson Masechaba Ndlovu yesterday, Mthethwa said the Covid-19 pandemic presented the country with a unique set of challenges that have a profound impact on the arts and culture sector.
“So, in response to this, the department has decided to embark on a number of initiatives that will help to weather the storm and also make it easier for South Africans to stay indoors.
“One of these initiatives is the #QaurantineBookClub which on Sunday [yesterday] received widespread support and grew to be one of the top trends on Twitter. This enabled us to spread a culture of reading while simultaneously uniting the country together behind a common purpose.”
Mthethwa further explained that through the #QuarantineBookClub they asked South Africans to share a picture of the book they were currently reading to influence others and their followers to also pick up a book and read.
“We were also inspired by Nigerian author Ben Okri who once said “stories can conquer fear”, and we believe that through this initiative we’ll be able to use stories to give us the courage to conquer our fears. “We are also planning to start similar initiatives to support practitioners in the arts and culture sector who have been affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus, which we plan to announce in due course,” Mthethwa added.