On Mandela Day this year Exclusive Books returned to Hillbrow, where the first ever Exclusive Books store was opened in 1951, to celebrate the launch of the Exclusive Books Pan-African Reading Lounge for adults and The Exclusive Books Pan-African Reading Room for children at the re-opened Windybrow Arts Centre.
A wonderful time was had by all, especially by the children and young people of the community, who will benefit from having permanent access to these books and educational materials in a safe and nurturing environment.
Our GM: Procurement, Olinka Nel, gave the following speech:
The great American writer Maya Angelou often spoke of how she was saved by the library as a child. She called libraries “rainbows in the clouds”. Not the sky, but the clouds. The sky is sometimes obscured by clouds, so, she explained:
“…God put the rainbow in the clouds themselves — in the worst of times, in the meanest of times, in the dreariest of times — so that at all times the viewer can see a possibility of hope. That’s what a library is.”
As Exclusive Books, we are proud and honoured to return today to our birthplace: these very streets of Hillbrow. It was here where Philip and Pamela Joseph opened the first flag-ship branch of Exclusive Books.
It is only fitting that we return today to give our thanks to South Africa in the form of books. It is a longstanding custom in the book trade to quietly participate in ventures that aspire to put literature in the hands of children. Everyone pitches in: the publishers, bookshops, and readers themselves. Such ventures happen quietly because they are not PR exercises: they are sincere investments in the future of bookselling, and of reading.
To quote Maya Angelou again:
“All information belongs to everybody all the time. It should be available. It should be accessible to the child, to the woman, to the man, to the old person, to the semiliterate, to the presidents of universities, to everyone. It should be open.
Information helps you to see that you’re not alone. That there’s somebody in Mississippi and somebody in Tokyo who all have wept, who’ve all longed and lost, who’ve all been happy. So the library helps you to see, not only that you are not alone, but that you’re not really any different from everyone else. There may be details that are different, but a human being is a human being.”
We thank the Market Theatre Foundation for this precious opportunity to give back. Not many people know this, but our CEO, Benjamin Trisk, was a founding member of the Market Theatre in 1976. Today is therefore truly a return to our roots. We hereby present the Pan-African Reading Room and Lounge. It is our wish that this library will bring much happiness to the community of Hillbrow.