Literary Change for Africans
At first when I read the Daily Prompt for today, I was a bit stomped. “What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world?” On the surface the question seems easy, but on closer inspection you discover it’s a rather tough one. It reminds me of one test I wrote in my Macro Economics class back in the university, I thought I did excellently well on the test, I thought I had nailed all the answers but when the result came back, it was awful. Back to business, after much consideration I have figured out what change I want my blog to do. I want my blog to challenge people to take a deeper interest in reading and writing. And when I say “people” I mean specifically those from my country (Nigeria) and other developing countries in Africa.
There is a saying here in Africa, I am not sure exactly how it goes but it sounds something like this: “if you want to hide information/knowledge from an African put it in a book”. As much as I want to punch whoever came up with this saying in the face, the truth is that he/she is right. I don t need statistics and figures on illiteracy or poverty to tell you this; the average African cannot even write his name let alone write a piece or even read the works of others. Here in Nigeria for example, the universities produce tonnes and tonnes of graduates every year, but still a large majority of them cannot even comfortably summarize a passage for you. For instance, while I was still job hunting, I went for an aptitude test where we were told to write an essay on any topic of our choosing, and it turned out many people could not write. A lot of the applicants who wrote the test with me only submitted their multiple choice answer sheets, leaving behind the essay sheet on the table. Another instance was during my National Youth Service year in 2011. We were given forms to fill out for registration, and while I was busy filling mine a young lady (university graduate) walked up to me smiling sheepishly (I thought she was about to make a pass at me… :D). Contrary to my delusion, it turned out that she did not even know how to fill out her name in the boxes. I was deeply shocked, but I fought very hard from showing how bizarre it all seemed to me. So when you think about it, if a supposed graduate cannot write and read, what do you expect from the common man on the street who probably only went to primary/elementary school.
I know my blog might not have articles on reading and writing or other material of a similar nature. I know my posts do not get 100 or more “likes” and views. I know I have never been on the Freshly Pressed list. But I hope the mere fact that I am writing inspires African people to want to do the same. I hope that African people wake up to fight and erase this bad stereotype as portrayed in the saying “if you want to hide information/knowledge from an African put it in a book.” I hope that the next time that kid in the village picks up his phone to go on Facebook, he will be met by a link to my blog or the blog of others who will inspire him/her to read and write. I hope that someday, a published author from Africa will mention me in the dedication page as an inspiration to start writing.
I hope and Pray.