Writers like Leopold Senghor, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Chinua Achebe are just but a few of the greatest writers the continent has produced so far. Their materials have and continue to influence a political discourse in the continent and the world at large. In honouring their great work Africa must produce more writers who will be widely consumed. Judy Blume argues that ‘It is not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written.The books that will never be read’. Her concerns ring true and must be rectified. Much noise has been made about how as Africans we do not read, that we read wrong literature and that our youth is less interested in reading. The most famous anecdote being ‘If you want to hide money from a black person, put it under a book’.

Nothing can be further from the truth. Sadly though, some of us have since internalised these stereotypes. Let us debunk these stereotypes: In our own history, African families have always been readers. Whether affluent or not, African people’s homes have always been adorned by old interesting literature. In some instances, books would be so overused that some pages would be coming off. It would make sense to donate some of the books that we have read several times to give an opportunity to those who need them the most. It is in giving the young ones’ books that we inculcate a culture of reading.

Once that seed has been planted, we can expect to have informed writers who will tell important African stories. The narrative that will emanate from these writers will truly serve to inform people about how to engage in development from an informed perspective of practitioners who understands their surroundings.

We must constantly remind our people that sharing those old biographies, novels and other kinds of literature is not a waste. There is a child who can benefit from reading that book; a school library that can be enriched from having that novel in their inventory. Donating books to schools will ensure we produce a reading nation at a very young age. It will ensure the African Girl Child’s gets to read and be exposed to the world beyond their immediate environment. This will surely place our people at a better advantage. Our people are ready to read, they lack the necessary support to do so and we must assist them in this regard.

When a people are illiterate, human rights abuse is more prevalent. When a people do not understand their environment, it is easy to take advantage of them. Leaders and governments can do as they wish. The people of Africa must reject illiteracy, for it will continue to delay development further.

The #Produce a reading leaner #Produce a reader #A reading nation #Donate a book # library aims to respond to that need. Wherever you are, visit a school, donate a book, give a child a book to read. Let us promote African authors while at it.

Rhulani Thembi Siweya is the founder of Africa Unmasked, she is also a NEC member of the ANCYL and writes in her personal capacity.

Ends

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Disclaimer: Views expressed in this section are the author's own and do not represent the editorial policy of Kairo News. Kairo News will trash any comment that inflames tribal, racial or religious hatred.

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