ZIBF bemoans woeful reading culture

HARARE - Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) chairperson Musaemura Zimunya says the country’s reading culture is deteriorating mainly due to technology which generates immediate gratification at the expense of long-term intellectual benefit.

Zimunya, who is also  chairperson of the Zimbabwe Writers Association (Zwa), said the recent Culture Week that ran from May 16 to 23, should have been used as a platform to promote the love for reading.

“For the most part, the reading culture of today suffers from a bloated diet of television, Internet and social media networks which put emphasis on immediate gratification rather than long-term intellectual benefit,” said Zimunya.

“Moreover, the overwhelming desire for cell phone handsets and other such appetising technologies has provided a host of activities that are only useful as diversions from boredom rather than tools for reading for intellectual development and the good practices of contemplation and reflection.”

The respected academic was quick to point out that not all schoolchildren have access to technology.

“Notwithstanding, we cannot assume that every child in Zimbabwe has access to these technologies for their educational development.

“It would be a tragedy if our education policy planners were to operate under that assumption as it would condemn the majority of children to the sort of calamitous illiteracy that is a national risk,” he said.

The Midlands State University (MSU) lecturer also blamed parents for contributing to the woeful reading culture among the country’s youth.

“In days past, parents were the role models of their children when it came to reading. The majority of parents and I would even dare say 99,99 percent don’t read, not novels, not short stories, not children’s books, not newspapers — the list is endless.  Nor does it help that they have also been seduced by the new technologies. It is a scary scenario when all is said and done.”

The ZIBF and Zwa boss said reading was now synonymous with gossip.

“In short, today’s reading is characterised by abbreviated perusals of lurid gossip, scandals and pornography.  As a result, we now have very arrogant children who know a whole lot about pop culture and less about life and ubuntu,” he said.

Zimunya, who is also a respected poet and literary critic, believes the country’s education is not in any way inculcating a reading culture.

“Most of today’s educational leaders hardly do any reading themselves.  I am privileged to have taught at the highest level where students make through university without much original reading but are entirely dependent on Internet spoon-feeding for their essays and learning,” he said.

Zimunya added that Zimbabweans must appreciate their culture.

“What is sometimes missing is the conviction to accept that we are who we are and not waste time in trying to be New Yorkers, Londoners or Parisians when we have not even flown across Lake Kariba to discover precisely what ghosts or spirit mediums we are courting through our misguided fantasies,” he said.

Comments (1)

You can say that again Mr Musayemura Zimunya.Our people should read books.Period!

Cde Dokora - 1 June 2015

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