A month in East Africa ought to mean more time for reading.
But the last few weeks have been intense: attending the SCECSAL conference in Nairobi, preparing the LATINA Africa training in Kampala (one week), actually doing the training (two weeks) – and running the first African Statistics for Advocacy course on top of that (July 2).
The local newspapers are always interesting. They document national concerns as well as the trivia and tragedies of daily life. In Uganda I’ve followed New Vision (government owned) and Daily Monitor, and also subscribed to their twitter streams. The East African (weekly) has good analytical articles about regional politics and development. East Africa is visbly taking shape as an economic and political entity of its own.
In Uganda, as in most of Africa, the library sector is very weak.
The original causes are historical. Uganda – and most of Africa – developed as societies based on oral rather than written cultures. In the colonial period, literacy was primarily an administrative tool. Widespread primary schooling is recent. Newspaper circulation and book production remain low.
Official literacy rates of fifty, sixty or seventy peercent do not imply functional literacy. Large sectors are only partially literate. Many people can understand a simple text, but have problems with complex documents. They lack the habit of reading.
The most enjoyable books are those that change my life. I do not require total turnabouts, but I like texts that open new doors and windows in the gritty walls of reality.
More and more, I discover, I am concerned with voice. The way things sound. The way things are said.
As blogs and other communication channels develop, the gap between official gobbledygook – and the personal and unpremeditated human voice – becomes wider.
Men who read are more attractive, I said yesterday. But they should not visibly read Harry Potter or similar stuff.
Today I found a list of top "geek novels" compiled by Jack Schofield, journalist and Guardian blogger, on the basis of reader recommendations. My source: Lorcan Dempsey' s great blog on library innovation:
Interesting article on self-organizing productive networks in the May issue of First Monday.