If you want to hide anything from a black man, hide it in the book.

Africans are known to have a culture based on oral tradition. Therefore, many indigenes do or partake in little or no reading. The general view is that a person reads or studies only in preparation for examinations and so, after leaving the schooling system, most Africans find it difficult to pick up a book or an article to read.

Reading, the decoding of written words, has a major part to play in the development of our continent. Many have taken the ability to read for granted. Some parents cannot read well while some cannot even read at all. For this reason, many parents do not encourage reading. In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than one in three adults cannot read,182 million adults are unable to read and write, forty-eight million youths (ages 15-24) are illiterate, while 22% of primary aged children are not in school.

Failure to read has affected not just the individuals but also the continent in general. Unfortunately, since reading books, magazines, research papers, and other resource materials provides knowledge, many Africans are oblivious of the fact that reading provides them with the noesis to be efficient and effective.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body! -Joseph Addison Tweet

In a much larger sense, this has affected the economy of countries in Africa. Therefore, there is an important need to revolutionize reading in Africa.

Ways To Revolutionize Reading In Africa

Through Optimizing Libraries

A friend made a joke on Facebook saying
There is a 90% possibility a library built to honor a great African person might not even have the books by those they were erected for
It goes to know how bad and careless our libraries can be.

One way to revolutionize reading is the supporting and equipping of existing libraries in Africa. Libraries are an important aspect of promoting the reading culture in people. Both school and public libraries have experienced gross neglect over the years; they are inadequately funded and lack relevant reading resources to positively impact the public.

Public Enlightenment

As many people in the African continent do not seem to understand the importance of reading. To revolutionize reading in Africa, public enlightenment is a step that needs to be taken.
The public should be sensitized on the significance of reading. It definitely will go a long way if book reading campaigns, reading movements, challenges etc. can be launched to promote such reading and studying habits.

Creation of Literacy Events/Reward Mechanism

There is no doubt we work our best when we are aware that our activity will be rewarded.

Governmental bodies or private organizations may work together on creating a series of events centered around literacy. Building a reward system for such events at the end is a great way to attract newer eyes and more enthused minds towards such events/programs the next time it runs.

Avoiding Over-emphasis on Certificates and Results Over Knowledge

Another good way to improve reading habit in Africa is to avoid over emphasis on certificates. As a result of over-emphasis on certificates, some owners of certificates only have paper qualifications without having the knowledge and skills required.

Involving the children/youths

Children should also be encouraged to develop the reading habit in them. As ‘readers are leaders’, and since they are the leaders of tomorrow, they unquestionable need all the knowledge and skills they may acquire from reading one or two many a book (pun-intended).

Embracing Digital Publications

Through the use of social media and other digitized tools, we have seen already how digitisation—has helped political movements in some African nations. Such nations are Egypt, Mali, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and a whole lot more to come.
If through the numerous actions raised via social media, nations can do dethrone long-standing authoritarians, how much more can the people of the continent do through gaining the knowledge that resides in books?

Electronic books (ebooks) help eliminate problems associated with publishing and the distribution of books.

Platforms such as Jeff Bezoz’ Amazon, the world’s largest e-commerce channel and their Kindle (for e-publications), Okadabooks (a fast-growing e-publishing system) by Nigerian writer Okechukwu Ofili, Wattpad—a writers and readers website for the global market; their market amidst millennials in the African audience is no joke. These and many other programs have helped reduce the cost and effectiveness of publishing in Africa if only Africans would embrace them a little bit more.

The opportunities to promote reading within the Africa continent are endless and limitless, but it takes courage, will, and determination to utilize them, as our refusal to adapt to e-reading, makes reading in Africa stand a chance of being obsolete.

It is true that Africans have a low reading habit but we hope this article offers practical steps that can improve the reading quality of an individual, country and our continent in general.

As a Nigerian, I would say that it is not as though we do not want to read or do not value reading, but some of the deterrents to Africans reading is our reclining standard of living, declining economies, the struggles for survival and the clustered hustle and bustle in the continent. Some of these greatly contribute to languid feeling towards sitting down and opening up our minds to the teachings of a book.

Pius-Chukwu Favour and Ibeh Ejike Mark

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