Reading to mould better minds
Reading is not essentially part of the African tradition, our stories existed in oral form, which was not at all a bad thing, except for the fact that now our youth are not brought up with the patience to sit and listen to a stories every night — more to the point they are not brought up to have the culture of reading for leisure or personal development.
Modern technology has made socializing digital, it has gotten to a point where your mother sends you a text to call you down for dinner, or worse a Facebook message. The image of a family sitting together in the same room, interacting and conversating about their day seems more and more distant.
Nowadays a family could be in the same room, but one would be watching television, the others would be busy on their laptops/tablets/smart phones, with the possibility of having headphones on! How rude!
Reading does not only refer to reading a comment and skimming through some articles online, I mean really reading and not just English. Some refer to it as “deep reading”. Deep reading is a concept brought forth by Sven Birkerts (1994). It is defined by about.com as “the active process of thoughtful and deliberate reading carried out to enhance one’s comprehension and enjoyment of a text.” Deep reading also requires deep thinking, thus in more simplified terms reading makes you a lot smarter.
Namibia’s case is even more serious than that, not everyone is exposed to technology thus the scenario mentioned above cannot cater for everyone. Although Facebook is influential, a majority of our youth cannot read (in terms of “deep reading”), because there is not enough exposure or emphasis on books.
I admit, we have libraries in Windhoek, which are basically deserted, and only used in times of examination. The education system, the media as well as the society should work together to create, the “want” to read rather than the “need” in our children, thus reading for pleasure not just for a good grades.
How many Namibians can say that their parents read to them as children? Many grow up without ever finishing a single book, some of us are lucky enough to have gone to schools where we had libraries and teachers that actually encouraged you to use them. Reading for pleasure requires understanding, in terms of language, character, style and setting.
One should understand the obvious (literal), and the hidden (literary) meaning of words. Reading different books, desensitised the mind, in other words makes a person familiar with the world around them, and also increases their vocabulary. According to Wolf (2010), Socrates believed “only the intellectually effortful process of probing, analysing and internalizing knowledge would enable the young to develop a lifelong, personal approach to knowing and thinking, which could lead them to their ultimate goals—wisdom and virtue.”
Reading may sound complicated but the more one reads the easier it gets, every time you question what you read, or you related even the smallest thing in a story to the world around you are interacting with the text, thus making your mind more critical, and building your future as an intellectual. So pick a genre whether it is fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, adventure) or non-fiction (autobiography, biography) and read as much as you can, you will reap the intellectual rewards, the more challenging the book is the more rewarding it will be in the end.