ONE remark that is often said about Africans is that they rarely keep abreast with new publications and that if you want to hide something from them, put it in a book.
If this is anything to go by, Africans, especially the youth are doomed because most of them use clichés when communicating.
Other than gossip or talking about hip-hop musicians and videos, the typical youth will many a time keep quiet during a social debate.
I personally wonder why the youth are bored by current affairs. They have no clue who the cabinet ministers are. They will never mind if there is any employment opportunities that they could possibly utilize.
They will keep claiming they are looking for jobs, but without a simple clue that job advertisements can be found in any newspaper. At least these papers are written in different languages.
It is a strange thing and actually a bad habit that one can read a newspaper and put it down without any comment.
Some of the youth think the press writes about common knowledge and so they don’t need it very much.
One of my friends told me he can’t read newspapers; that he is only interested in reading what is on the front page, the rest is none of his business.
I remember seeing my dad, and that was then, reading a newspaper from the first to the last page. It is a totally different story this time.
I might agree that some youth are constrained by lack of finances, and so they cannot spend on reading material.
But that is no excuse, because one can either buy second hand books or borrow from the few existing libraries. The same applies to newspapers.
Having a lot of information on the internet seems not to solve problems; many youth are likely to waste much of their time on social network sites such as Facebook, that have a less redeeming value.
On the other hand, the school system too should take some blame. They hardly inculcate a reading culture in the youth.
Schools at all costs tend to emphasize reading for exams. It is the schools’ responsibility to help the young generation by guiding them into finding useful material.
Few youth are likely to read unless exams are around the corner. And that will be the end of it all.
Some young people especially in secondary schools read a lot of escapist literature and read crazily.
They are fans of any Western writers you could ever imagine; Jackie Collins, Danielle Steele, Mark Haddon, Judith Michael, name it.
What is even more annoying are teachers who often exchange such books with students.
Reading enables one to learn about other people and their culture. It is less costly than traversing the world.
It is actually good to belong to the whole world, but it is a smarter move knowing yourself first. Get to know your country better by reading information about it and then involving yourself in creating what others can read in the next generation.
If we write and read ourselves, we shall have set good role models for the rest. Be the first to act.
Some of the books in the libraries, for instance, Do It Yourself, impart practical knowledge in virtually all known subjects. But they will go untouched.
Now that self employment is greatly encouraged, we need to be more practical in most of our endeavors.
We should not let the reading culture die. The hallmark of any person who is widely read is having many ideas and making wise remarks and informed decisions.
It feels like you belong to the whole world. Read, and read widely.
The author is a teacher at Kagarama secondary school