We need to read more books with an African touch

We should support African writings as we mend our reading culture

In Summary

• My mum and I always compete to read books, novels to be precise

• Even though we enjoy read widely, our preference is always African literature

A cover page of Going Down River Road novel by Meja Mwangi
A cover page of Going Down River Road novel by Meja Mwangi

Some time back, we talked of how we should bring back the reading culture.

As usual, the mantra is: education is elevation.  

Our reading habit is still there but on the brink of non-existence.

Something I have been seeing online of late that really warms my heart is how people post books they read and recommend the good ones.

Not e-books, actual books.  

Even in this digital era, I find it awesome that there are still some who find pleasure in reading an actual book from page to page.  

My mum recently surprised me with three new books for my small home library collection, which made me really happy.  

Her and I always compete to read books — novels to be precise — and we enjoy spending time discussing what we have read; kind of like a small book club but for just us two. 

I also noticed that she, too, enjoys the mini book club sessions we usually have and always longs for the time we sit down and dissect chapter by chapter.  

Even though we enjoy reading a variety of content, our first preference is always African literature.  

It can be by an African author in an African setting or a novel that just has an African setting and touch to it.  

My current read is the 'Girl and the Sunbird' by Rebecca Stonehill.  

This book has me on a chokehold as it gives a nice tale of a woman married off to a man she can never love but is drawn to another. The storyline is centred in British East Africa — Kenya in the colonial age.  

I am a lover of history, and as someone who enjoys detaching herself from reality and jumping into a different realm, where I actively play out the characters in my head, this particular book brought me in touch with precolonial Kenya.  

I tend to feel like we downplay literature written with an African setting in mind, and ones that are also written by African authors.  

We are not really appreciating how good, educative, informative and entertaining these books are. 

'Going down River by Meja Mwangi' is also an interesting read I came across, without forgeting 'Nearly all men in Lagos are mad' by Damilare Kuku, which is my next read.  

Just the way we often come through for films written, directed and produced in Africa, I believe that when it comes to books, we can channel the same energy in that direction.  

I know some may argue that we read African literature in secondary school, but what happens after that?

Away from that, what kind of books do our children read? Are we doing enough to expose them to reading African literature? 

I remember some time back, I mentioned how I expose my niece and nephew to African-made content as a way for them to appreciate who they are and feel comfortable with how they look.  

This is a way for me to teach them to always appreciate who they are and learn more about themselves comfortably.  

In equal measure, I usually enjoy giving them African literature books to read away from what they are usually used to reading, with more of Swahili books than English.  

If we can really maximise on letting our children read books that are written in an African setting, we do not risk letting our future generation lose a sense of who they are.  

Giving them an actual book rather than an e-book is the icing on the cake.  

As we work on reviving the dying reading culture, let us also incorporate an environment where we encourage reading of more literature that has an African touch to it. 

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