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YouTube launches first Africa Reading Challenge

YouTube on Wednesday launched its first YouTube Africa Reading Challenge, an online reading marathon aimed at boosting the profile of African Literature across the continent.

Nitin Gajria, Google’s Managing Director for Africa, said in a statement that the marathon reading, featuring authors, influencers, and key opinion leaders across Africa, was to popularise African authors across the continent.

Mr Gajria said some personalities would read extracts from The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, a novel by the African-born Nigerian poet Lola Shoneyin.

He added that Google was 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.

“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,’’ he said.

According to him, 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.

Mr Gajria noted that interested participants had to download the app from the App Store to find the book under ‘News and Updates’.

According to him, the book is an entertaining, perceptive, and enlightening portrayal of polygamy in modern-day Nigeria.

Mr Gajria explained that the novel emerged as the top choice by Africans in a Google Africa survey conducted in July 2020.

Forty people across Africa were selected to kick off the YouTube Africa Challenge and will be reading from its pages, encouraging others to join them too.

He said the 40 included 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 as well as actor and writer Mugambi Nthiga.

Others included Nigerian media entrepreneur and talk show host Agatha Amatha, motivational speaker Olujimi Tewe, philanthropist and writer Betty Irabor, performance coach and strategist Steve Harris, career and business coach Muyiwa Afolabi among others.

YouTube, launched in May 2005, is the world’s most popular online video community, allowing billions of people to discover, watch and share videos.

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