13/11/2017 10:38 SAST | Updated 13/11/2017 10:38 SAST

Durban Has Finally Been Recognised As A Unesco World City Of Literature

"In a sense it means that Durban becomes the literary capital of Africa."

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Durban -- the home of literary greats like Alan Paton, Imraan Coovadia, Gcina Mhlophe, Bessie Head and Mazisi Kunene (the first poet laureate in South Africa) -- has finally been recognised for its literary contribution to the African continent, and the globe.

Unesco has designated the coastal city as an officially recognised -- and now protected -- Unesco World City of Literature, the first city on the African continent to be designated with the prestigious title.

"This is big. In a sense it means that Durban becomes the literary capital of Africa, the literary gateway to Africa. Everything that the city plans from now, literature must be at its heart. It must define the city," says Darryl David, former head of Afrikaans at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who headed Durban's bid for Unesco City of Literature status.

Durban's recognition is part of Unesco's Creative Cities Network programme, which intends to "promote the social, economic and cultural development of cities in both the developed and the developing world," it says.

Now, the city needs to erect statues of writers and literary trails need to be developed, among other literature-focused initiatives, David says.

"We already have three major literary festivals in the city: Time of the Writer; Poetry Africa and, most recently, ARTiculate Africa. Our bid was built on these cornerstones. By joining the Unesco City of Literature family, the literary world will open up to Durban."

Read more about the historic moment here.