If you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book.
Isn’t this quote infuriating? I first heard it when I was in secondary school, learning about the colonizer. Our history teacher casually mentioned it while he taught us about the scramble and partition of Africa.
Side note: it actually still blows my mind that a bunch of white people sat and down and divided Africa amongst themselves like it was cake. And the meeting was a birthday party. The caucacity!
Back to the quote, it really disturbed my mind particularly because I was studious little kid. I loved words and found solace in them. My mind longed to find new ways to understand concepts, more than what I was taught in school. So, the idea that white people were hiding knowledge in books and counted on the black people to be ignorant disturbed my head.
It didn’t help that the education system in Uganda, (I’m not entirely sure about the rest of Africa) doesn’t encourage critical thinking. Critical thinking demands that you read, research, and understand. We are instead encouraged to regurgitate everything that we are taught in class. It’s very copy and paste.
Of course with this type of education, many people from the system don’t want to read for recreation, or to read for reading’s sake. It was about reading to pass exams. Cramming it in.
I don’t remember when I first realized that I loved to read. I think it’s the same way that one realizes that they love their family. This kind of love is something that’s a given. Reading is the very essence of who I am. It’s like asking me if I love to breathe.
And just like anyone who loves something, I want everyone I know, and even those I don’t, to partake in this magical thing. To experience what I experience when I read. Because words are magical. Language is magical. The fact that humans are the only organisms on earth that are able to pass down stories. From generation to generation and then have these stories thrive. That fascinates me. And I want everyone to be fascinated by that too. Is my enthusiasm showing?
But read. Dear reader, read a book. I challenge you to. Don’t let the people that gatekeep certain forms of reading stop you from reading. If it’s an ebook, an audiobook, a paperback, a hardback, graphic novels, comics, or manga, it’s still a book. Read something today. If it takes you 3 months, 2 hours, or 1 year to complete a book, you’ve still read. Don’t let people judge you into thinking you’re not a reader.
Exercise the muscle that is your brain and read. You’ll be the better for it.
Feature Photo: Racheal Kizza
Tim Mjete declared this post unfinished unless I added this photo. And he was right. Click the linked names to visit the sites of these wonderful writers and Read.