"What does this mean? Quite simply that the African child sees writing a book as something he or she can never achieve." Mukoma Wa Ngugi's on the stifled opportunities for African children to be literarily creative struck a cord. Creative imagination is not a chance occurrence; it is nurtured from the cradle.
This has wide-ranging ramifications for educational role-players and parents.In order to instill the impetus for reading and creative writing in our children, African governments have to invest in well-equiped libraries, community reading centers, literary competitions, book clubs, and more. This takes a lot of political good-will, and the wisdom to perceive the long-term benefits of childhood literacy. A reading nation is a productive nation. We cannot continue to put literacy on the back burner and persist in the self-delusion that one day our children will be able to compete with their peers on the ideas-oriented market at par.
A wise man once said that "if you want to hide something from a black person, all you need to do is put inside a book. He will never find it because he abhors reading." Insulting as this adage may sound, there is a grain of truth in it! How many parents in Africa invest in books for leisure reading? I spent seven years in primary school without reading a single novel! This had nothing to do with lethargy on my part toward reading. It was simply due to the fact that there were no books at school or at home for me to read.
As we speak today, there are K-12 schools in Africa without libraries. Most of our college and university libraries are window-dressings! I taught high school kids for five years in the Northern Province in South Africa, where classes are still being held under trees in some villages for lack of classrooms! Yet our politicans continue to play tango with the future of our children by misappropriating public funds and doing stupid things like taking safari trips to Europe and America in the company of their concubines. This mentality has to change.
The onus is on educated Africans at home and in the Diaspora to play the leading role. And let's not forget, writers are political animals. Our lives are tainted on a daily basis with decisions, sane and insane, taken by politicians. On this count, therefore, the African writer cannot afford to be apolitical.