We should create a reading culture in Kenya
By Kamweru James
| August 26th 2015
The reading culture in Kenya is quicly taking a nose dive. The dwindling trend can be attributed to the slaggish nature of some people in catching up with the emerging trends and news. It is worrying that most people cannot read a few pages whenever they are free. Similarly, the writing culture has lost its fans. This has realy affected the indigenous literature leaving a vaccum for foreign literature.
If you happen to pass by City Hall in Nairobi, you can affirm this by the gatherings you find there. Most of the topics discussed there are political with someone taking the lead in analysing the newspapers and other media coverage. You will note that there are those who receive audience due to their prowess in reading and interpreting newspapers. Funny enough, it's likely that somebody in the crowd will be holding a newspaper which he bought but probably had no time to read.
Kenyans are used to scanning any written material for the most captivating headlines and photograghs but fail to read the content. Those are the people who complete the story with their imaginations. I happened to have a stop and listen to those newspaper analysts. I was shocked to hear a different version of the story that I had read on the newspaper. No one opposed him as most likely no one had read the story though I could spot some in the crowd holding the same paper
This laziness in reading is mostly cultivated by our teachers. With the introduction of set books in high schools,the notion was that students will have reading and analytical skills for literature. But no one is there to motivate them in doing so. Some literature teachers only teach for exams. Once the mean grade goes up, the rest is not imperative. You can bear me witness that most literature teachers use the set book guides in teaching. The student therefore has no time to read the whole literature as a summary is already available in the market. I'm the product of this so am talking out of experience.
But as we slam the readers, the elites in Kenya are also failing us. Most of them are mean with the knowledge and information that they have acquired. Tuitors and lecturers don't produce academic journals and other literature regulary. While some do so, they don't publish them on the internet. I was once looking for online articles for my college project but to my surprise, I didn't get any Kenyan material on the topic. Most of them come from other African countries such as Nigeria. With this digital age, I do think that online materials can motivate the readers more.
It is because of this experience that I support the cabinet secretary for education, Professor Jacob Kaimenyi's recommendation that lecturers who don't produce academic papers annually should be retrenched. Those professors and doctors have more information which can be shared. It is a shame to learn that once one dies,that information will be laid six feet under.
But we should recognise a few of Kenyans who get time to read and write even if it is short articles. Everyone starts from a point and then a stage is set for producing high volume literatures. We should note that writing is really paying as there are writers who survive from their works . The most renowned writers like Ngugi Wa Thiogo have travelled many miles due to their writing career. Writing can help one gain global recognition which is the most prestigious experience.
Also reading should be introduced early in children's lives. There are children literature which can help build the reading habit in children as they grow. Parents should be encouraging their kids to write and read short articles as it is through such that they build vocabulary and learn writing styles. The elites should also be active in producing more literature as the readers can have a variety. No one should be mean with information even if it's life experiences which can be produced as memoirs, biographies or autobiographies.
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