YouTube launches reading marathon to drive African readers to African authors

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LAGOS – YouTube has launched its first YouTube Africa Reading Challenge, an online reading marathon featuring authors, influencers and key opinion leaders across Africa. 

In a bid to help popularise the of African authors across the continent, the personalities will read extracts The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, a novel by the African-born poet Lola Shoneyin. The book is an entertaining, perceptive and enlightening portrayal of polygamy in modern-day Nigeria. It reveals the struggles, rivalries, intricate family politics, and the interplay of personalities and relationships 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 which novel by an African author they would like to see read live on YouTube. A total 40 people across Africa have since been selected to kick off the YouTube Africa Challenge, and will be reading its pages, encouraging others to join them too.

Among the notable names joining the reading challenge are:

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

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.

South Africa: TV presenter and philanthropist Maps Maponyane, media personality Penny Lebyane, and model Pearl Thusi, storyteller and sociologist Upile Chisala,  and award-winning marketer Khaya Dlanga.

“We are extremely excited about the YouTube Africa Reading Challenge. Reading novels  is such a critical skill and we hope this event will help fuel a reading culture on the continent, while also highlighting some of the exceptional literary works by African writers,” says Nitin Gajria, Google’s Managing Director for Africa. 

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

Free access to read The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives is available for one month via the OneRead app. This offer is aimed specifically at those eager to join the challenge, but who don’t have access to a physical copy of the book. They simply have to download the app the App Store, and find the book under ‘News and Updates’.

The hashtag is:  #AfricaReads