29th IBBY Congress: Books for Africa
5 September 2004, Artscape Opera House, Cape Town
Welcome by Peter Schneck, President of IBBY
As the President of IBBY I am proud and happy to extend a warm welcome you. It is the first time in its long and eventful 50 year history that the International Board on Books for Young has organized one of its congresses in Africa.
We are delighted to be in Cape Town: our presence acknowledges IBBY’s commitment to support the work of the South African Children’s Book Forum as well as other African National Sections as they continue to promote children’s literature even as they deal with the dramatic economic circumstances that this continent faces. We are grateful to have the opportunity to visit a country that has given the world an example of peaceful change as it transforms itself into a society based on the principle of racial equality. We must thank all those who have worked so hard to plan such a rich programme and who have succeeded in bringing so many of us together to discuss how IBBY’s mission statement can be the source of other changes in Africa and, in particular, how it can contribute to a better world for the African children.
IBBY’s mission statement challenges its members to find ways to promote international understanding through children's books, to give children everywhere access to books with high literary and artistic standards, to encourage the publication and distribution of quality children's books, to provide support and training for those involved with children and children's literature and to stimulate research and scholarly works in this field.
We all are sadly aware that in the war-torn world in which we live, there is neither sufficient international understanding nor equal access to the rights and privileges of the world’s wealth; we also know that the burdens of poverty, insecurity, underdevelopment and illiteracy are not the same for all of us. The aim to give all children of the world access to books with high literary and artistic standards is not reached even in the most developed and prosperous regions of the world but in Africa the situation is alarming. To increase literacy we need books for children that are available in homes, in schools, libraries and bookshops; we also need a regionally based independent system of publishing and we need well trained parents, teachers, librarians and scholars.
IBBY is ready to take to do its part in the necessary efforts to reach these objectives. We will do this by making the best use of our own resources, but also in collaboration with many partner associations all over the world. We are glad to welcome the Board members of Assitej, the World Association on theatre for children as special guests at our congress.
Our Cape Town Congress meets under the theme of “Books for Africa”: let us make our meeting here a step toward ensuring that this theme becomes a promise and that we extend it to ensure that there are books for everyone and everywhere..