“If you want to hide money from an African child, especially one from Kenya, put it in a book,” so goes the saying.
This is a serious misconception believed by far too many people. It is a misleading statement and yet few of us have protested or disagreed with it. Although Africans, and especially Kenyans, are often viewed as non-readers, and thus not intellectually fit to handle their own affairs, the fact is that most Africans appreciate the power of reading. Reading as a culture is great in the sense that it opens up opportunities for all people to compete for and share equally the world’s resources and opportunities.
As a continent and as a people, we have a greater opportunity to challenge and transform ourselves to reach our full potential. It is worth noting that globalization has opened up our continent and our borders; we now live in a global village and the competition for jobs, resources and opportunities is global.
We have been told that Africa is the next frontier of economic growth. Unfortunately, Africa is only perceived as a consumer economy, the market to dump or sell the goods produced in developed economies. We import everything, including doctors, cheap labour, fish, clothes, food and what have you from other continents. What a shame! What about our own people, our own capability? If we don’t have the reading and writing skills, then we stand no chance to compete, to get our voices heard, and our future is doomed.
It is simple. If Africans don’t read, they have no chance. Africans will continue to be silenced. African voices will remain unheard. The African narrative and heritage will die. Other people will tell the African story. We will be colonised all over again. And the bottom line: We will have no future.
To secure our a bright future, to have an opportunity to compete, achieve and command respect, we need to invest in reading. Our young generation must become readers. Let’s get a book in every hand. Our future depends on it because if Africans don’t read, they have no future. Period!
By Gregory Omondi
A book in every hand