unfortunate lack of reading culture should not impede our progress

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
An article that examines how african countries despise reading, that eventually affect the development of the nations.

Submitted: October 26, 2016

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Submitted: October 26, 2016



The proverbial “if you want to hide something from a black man, put it in a book” is fast becoming a travesty. What this quotation means in both symbolic and practical terms is that, something precious in terms of content or physical object might be hidden in a book, but because the average black/African literate doesn’t like reading anything aside his/her school materials for examination purpose, that useful material will elude him.

In the past, before formal education came to the erstwhile Gold Coast, when our ancestors had no knowledge about now common names like books, pens and/or papers, much less read a book, such a quotation was not a surprise. But in the 21st century Ghana in particular, and Africa in general, where basic formal education has been made free and mandatory, same must not be said of us. And this unfortunate reality is what Dee Lee, read on a New York radio station from his article entitled “They Are still our slaves” about black people. Below are some of the key things he read from that article.

“Their ignorance is the primary weapon of containment. A great man once said “the best way to hide something from a black is to put in a book.” We now live in the informative age. They have gained opportunity to read any book through their fight for freedom, yet they refuse to read. There are books readily available at amazon, not to mention their own black bookstores that provide solid blueprints to reach economic equality (which should have been their fight all along) but few read consistently, if any at all. Also according to Tomie dePaola, “Reading is important, because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything”.

Indeed as a king/queen in the Great Britain, it is a requirement that you read a host of journals and newspapers every week. Former presidents Mark Anthony and Bill Clinton of the United States were/are widely acclaimed as great readers, with the latter reported to have read a record 300 books in just one year.  President Obama is also a great reader. And that is what the leaders of these world super powers continuously do to garner the needed knowledge to steer the affairs of their already advanced nations.

So if in third world country like Ghana, that has a balanced rate between literacy and illiteracy, some of the few literates doesn’t like reading and this rather unfortunate quote about black people has come to stay, the otherwise deteriorating state of our country is just going to worsen the more. And we would be left with no other option than to go back to our slave masters to read and control us.

Of course, before formal education came to Africa, just as philosophy recognizes sage philosophers; the wisdom of African leaders with no formal education, our ancestors had their own ways of socializing their younger ones.  And their methods had its strengths and weaknesses. But even though their methods had its own strengths and weaknesses, almost everything has been discarded, albeit, that is a topic for another day.

But it must quickly be pointed out that, as our wise elders say “you can force a horse to the riverside, but you can’t force it to drink” so “if it must be done, it must be done well” because in order to reap the optimum benefits from a most efficient formal education system, it is a combination of various factors such as good financial standing from parents, reading, writing and research by students, and a massive investment in infrastructure, teachers and teaching materials by the government. So with the swiftness with which we have enacted laws to make basic education mandatory, measures to inculcate reading culture among students and all the other components should be same.

Today if you upload images on social media, you are sure to attract loads of comments, but if you post a reading material with the same medium and audience, far fewer comments will be attracted. Reason being that, same audience would nospendsnd the minutes they spend on watching images and videos for entertainment purposes to acquire the priceless knowledge about life issues through reading.

In sum, for every 21st century black person, that quotation should be taken with a pinch of salt, because we have the capability to read and/or change our fortunes and broaden our horizon. Change is you and I, not a politician or anybody.

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