Research has shown that, the reading standard in Ghana today among both the young and old is falling swiftly. That is to say, we are becoming lazy in picking a book, be it a novel or a motivational book to read. We tend to be watching movies, tele-novellas, listening to music and enjoying other hobbies than reading.
The excuse we sometimes give is that, “we can’t be reading a novel to the detriment of our textbooks” but I ask; do we read our textbooks 24/7? Why can’t we use our leisure to at least read other books? If you ask me, I will say the novels and motivational books are also equally important as the textbooks.
It will interest you to know that, I was in one senior high school recently and while interacting with some section of the students, I asked them to mention at least five African Writers they know or have heard of, and surprisingly, apart from their two literature course book authors, they could not mention any other writer in Africa. Now, supposing I asked them to mention five Ghanaian Hiplife musicians and Actors, they will beg me to let them mention twenty and over. Now, this I think is pathetic! Very pathetic!
If we want to be men and women of lofty thoughts and elevated opinions, then we must be caught reading everyday, everywhere. In the light of this, an American Poet and Essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “If you encounter a man of rare intellect, just ask him how often he reads and the kind of books he reads.”
In as much as I hate the saying that “If you want to hide something from a Blackman, put it in a book,” it is more annoying to me that, we ourselves are not doing much to defeat this degrading attack on the intelligence of the African by whoever said this.
When we cultivate the habit of creative reading, it gives us a great art of creative thinking and creative writing as well.
I believe this is not the first time you are going to hear that, reading makes you learn new words, which in the long run actually improves and enriches your written and oral English.
If the sayings that, “A reading nation is a winning nation” and “Writers are the engineers of the human soul” are anything to go by, then we cannot downplay the importance of the culture of reading and writing to national development of this country.
Have you heard that reading prevents amnesia at old age? Have you heard that there is a great correlation between habitual reading and academic excellence?
Francois Fenelon, a French author said, “If all the riches of the Indies or the crowns of all the kingdoms of Europe were laid at my feet in exchange of my love for reading, I will spurn them all.” This should go a long way to tell us that, reading must not only be loved and made a habit but also cherished and treasured.
According to W. Fusselman, “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader” and Arthur Schopenhauer, a German Philosopher also said “Reading is equivalent to thinking with someone else’s head instead of with one’s own head alone.” I couldn’t agree more on these philosophies these great men are putting out to buttress the significance of reading.
My dear colleagues, anytime we want to entertain ourselves, I will advise we grab a book and start reading because it is not only the “cheapest” form of entertainment but it also gives us a lasting pleasure.
Let us also be self-disciplined enough not to quit reading a book midway but try our possible best to finish reading it, anytime we pick one to read.
My brothers and sisters, I hope you will tell a friend to tell a friend and keep telling more friends not to only make reading their leisure pursuit but also give it the necessary significance, seriousness and precedence it deserves.
In conclusion, I would want to humbly call on us all to take up this campaign of PROMOTING THE READING CULTURE IN GHANA.
Let me leave you with the philosophy of Atwood H. Townsend that, “No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time to read or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”
-By Sylvanus Bedzrah
(Author and “Young Professional Writer of the Year-2011”) and Youth Impact Ghana Awards 2012 winner
(An article on the author’s campaign on increasing the habit of reading from his book “THE BLOODY INGRATE”.)