How much truth is there is the statement that; ‘if you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book’?
Wednesday this week was World Book Day and on my Facebook page I posted asking or rather teasing my friends on the social website which books they have read recently.
I led by example and revealed that last month I read David Kirkpatrick’s The Facebook Effect a chronicle of how Mark and his mates invented Facebook.
David explains how an intriguingly intelligent Mark tinkered about with codes to end up with today’s Facebook and after the website became an instant hit among the Harvard University student community quickly spreading to other Ivy League colleges in USA, Mark became too busy for school and today, he’s one of the world’s wealthiest college drop-outs!
The Facebook Effect would particularly be interesting to Rwanda’s budding software developers as it takes them on a free tour into the brains of one of the world’s smartest inventors. The book also introduces the reader to the dynamics of the famous Silicon Valley, its politics, capital sourcing and specifically shows how Mark and his mates turned Facebook which was originally meant for university students to keep-up with each other, into a money-minting website.
Currently, I’m reading Headshot, a 2002 detective thriller by Quintin Jardine. If you are into detective fiction novels, Headshot is a good choice especially in April when moods are low around Rwanda.
Headshot is about a brutal homicide with New York as the physical setting. Known for his legendary poise, Assistant Chief Constable Bob Skinner, the hero in the story, is severely shaken when he’s faced with the brutally murdered bodies of his wife’s parents. The murders take place in New York which is outside Detective Skinner’s jurisdiction but he goes out of his way to hunt the killer.
It’s an exciting ride as you run through the book’s 403 pages, with gripping suspense and clever literally craft. Jardine will keep you indoors the whole weekend as you follow Skinner on his trail to catch the bad guy who, it turns out is a serial killer hunting down a group of men with certain links.
My Facebook post returned only twenty responses including serious and frivolous ones out of my 2420 friends, perhaps evidence of how little my friends really read.
The notion that we’re living in an information society begs the question, how much information are Africans contributing to that pool? The fast disappearing breed of Ngungi-Wa-Thiongo and Chinua Achebe the legends of African Literature also calls for a new generation of African writers.
It has been argued by some that for more Africans to adopt a reading culture, they must develop interest in writing.
Experts have argued that with deeper internet penetration in Africa, availability of e-books will make it easier for more people to access books at almost no cost hence circumventing the cost barrier.
It has also been noted that the internet has led to the rise of internet publishing technology such as blogging which enables people to write and share their ideas almost instantaneously.
But as matters stand, using my Facebook mates as a small sample, it appears African readers are still lagging behind their counterparts in more developed countries.
Take Israel as an example, it’s said that on average, an Israelite reads over 60 books a year, that’s about five books per month compared to China’s 4.8 books in a year!
China has the biggest population on the internet estimated at over 600 million people many accessing the internet via smart phones, according to a CCTV-News report to mark the World Book Day, it was revealed that the Chinese spend one hour on average browsing the internet compared to 13 minutes reading a book, per day.
In response to my Facebook witticism, Caesar Obadah, my former high school Chemistry teacher reported that he’s reading Ngugi-Wa-Thiongo’s 1965 classic, ‘the River between’ set during the Mau-Mau uprising against the British.
Bogere Oswald, a Ugandan working with Kampala City Council Authority, recommended the Invinsible Hand, a book authored by Tamale Mirundi, President Yoweri Museveni’s press secretary.
Herbert Okello, a first year Law Student at Makerere University, says he’s currently reading The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking by Dale Carnegie while Salim Irumba, a teacher, says he’s just finished reading The Book of Abraham by Marker Halter and he’s now reading The Mystery of the Moaning cave’ by William Arden.
Linda Gloria Kiggundu, a Master student at Griffith College in Dublin, says she’s just finished reading Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden and she’s now reading Business Stripped Bare by Richard Branson.
Gideon Ayebale, an accountant, is reading Robert Kiyosaki’s Poor Dad Rich Dad, Siima Slaone a student is reading the Run-away Jury while Mick Nyendwoha is reading The Precious Present by Johnson Spenser.
It’s 21st century but someone, Nelson Bwemi, says he’s reading Charles Dicken’s 18th century classic Oliver Twist, another reader, Daniela Daisy says she’s reading Okot P’Bitek’s Song of Lawino while Blessed Adyeeri says she’s reading Glass lake by Maeve Bincy.
But there were also jokers; for instance, Julian Ayesiga, a youth politician said she’s reading her primary seven notes.
Others like Princess Maxentia, a journalist and Fanny Musabeyezu, a student at KIST are reading the Quran and the Book of Genesis, in the Holy Bible, respectively.
So which book are you currently reading?