More and more people are now reading

The government efforts to promote literacy and also cultivate the reading culture seem to have started    paying off. The opening of the state of art public library also known as Rwanda Library Services (RLS) in 2012, the reading initiatives by the Rwanda Education Board (Reb) to distribute story books in all primary schools, coupled with the launch of Community Mobile libraries early this year have all been part of the driving force for a more literate society.

The government efforts to promote literacy and also cultivate the reading culture seem to have started    paying off. The opening of the state of art public library also known as Rwanda Library Services (RLS) in 2012, the reading initiatives by the Rwanda Education Board (Reb) to distribute story books in all primary schools, coupled with the launch of Community Mobile libraries early this year have all been part of the driving force for a more literate society.

Walk into the national library at Kacyiru anytime during working hours today and you will be met with sights of various parts of the library filled with groups of people of varying ages with their heads buried in silence studying or searching the shelves for respective authors of interest.

“There are a number of indicators that point to a gradual  growth  in the reading culture among Rwandans like the increasing number of publishers, newspapers( print and online), public libraries, upcoming authors, schools, so on and so forth,” says  Jennifer Turatsinze, the director of Rwanda Library Services.

Patrick, a friend in the Kanombe neighbourhood confesses that he has succeeded in replacing movies, with John Grisham and Sydney Sheldon books, arguing that they are more enriching.

“Most people avoid reading because they think it’s mentally tiring, little knowing that it’s only so at the start and that overtime it becomes as pleasurable as sipping warm coffee,” he said. 

Once in a while in Kigali, you will over hear a teenager assuring the other that they would  rather settle for the book version, than the movie because the book is more detailed and paints better pictures, hence spanning ones imagination or thought  more .

I also know a lot of friends here in Rwanda who still think that constantly gazing in a book is too much for the eyes. They have never the less embarked on audio versions just not to miss out on what the book  has to offer which indicates that their attitude is not entirely negative when it comes to reading.  

The fact that there is increase in the number of people like Patrick, who opt to spend their spare time  studying or reading for fun, foregoing involvement  in day-long arguments about foreign soccer leagues or so, indicates that a number of Rwandans are beginning  to embrace reading.  

Rwanda might not be as seasoned as the US or UK as far as cultivation of the reading culture is concerned but the good news is in the stride, however small, that are being made and that  is what is important , after all is every big achievement starts with small steps.

“In the past three years, we have experienced a steady increase in the number of local buyers, and we are hopeful that this will continue as time goes on,” says Gladstone Rutayisire, an attendant at Ikirezi bookshop in Kacyiru. 

However, the plea that the government should not only stop at enhancing the reading culture but also local authorship should be encouraged. This will go a long way in building the culture of telling our stories by home bred authors who understand their history and culture best.

With this level of progress registered already, there is confidence that in the near future more people will become all round knowledge seekers who can read beyond their career fields.

If each of us took at least an hour a day to get engrossed in content from a newspaper or a novel from a best-selling author we would make our individual lives  more productive, more fulfilling and more knowledgeable something that will leave a positive mark on society.

With this kind of motto constantly on mind, “anything worth publishing is worth reading,” I urge more people to take up reading as a practice and there will be no regrets.

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