My beloved Kigali Public Library

Before I discovered Kindle Store, I used to spend a lot of time in the library every day. This is strange because I hated the library when I was a student. I rarely sat in the library when I was at campus because I had many extra-curricular activities including chatting on Yahoo Messenger.

Last time I visited my alma mater, the new state-of-the-art library which is as big as the old campus had been launched. Maybe, I would have spent more time in the library if this beckoning architectural splendour was there when I was pursuing my degree.

Between 2012 and 2016, I used to workout at Nyarutarama Sports Club every morning and I was always the first person to sign the Kigali Public Library’s attendance sheet. As the saying goes, reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Sports clubs and libraries are integral parts of my lifestyle.

I knew I had become a frequent library user when security guards and cleaners became my friends. At some point, I didn’t have to show my membership card while borrowing and returning books because front desk custodians eventually memorised my registration number. When I was out of town, they noticed my absence.

Although Jeff Bezos has given me access to numerous electronic books, I still go to my library from time to time. In this house, youngsters are working hard to complete their dissertations. Others go there to take selfies and inform the whole world that they are busy reading books.

There are also YouTube viewers who are regular visitors. I don’t have any problem with YouTube addicts as long as they keep using their headphones.

Albert Einstein was quoted saying “the only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.” In our library, we close our mouths and open our minds. In this house, knowledge is dispensed free of charge.

I have found very good books on the shelves of this library. There are books I was so attached to that I felt like losing a friend when I turned the last page. Books are friends, counsellors and teachers. There are times when I travelled the world without leaving my chair. I found myself dreaming with my eyes open. There is magic in the library.

Lying helplessly on his deathbed, Augustine of Hippo, instructed his people to preserve his library and all the books therein carefully.

After his death, the Vandals burnt the city and destroyed everything but his library wasn’t scratched one bit. Ruthless Vandals set the entire city aflame but didn’t burn one page of a book.

As ancient Greeks used to say, burning books is an unforgivable sin.

According to Joseph Brodsky, if we don’t read them, we are committing worse a sin than burning them.

The author is an adventurer on a mission to discover what Rwanda has to offer.


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