According to Lord Bacon, ‘reading maketh a man whole’, If we go by this maxim, then it is safe to conclude that the indisposition of Africans to reading is one of the reasons Africans especially black people are not wholesome, lacking in many areas of human endeavour.
The truth is that there is no single area in life where Africans are not lagging behind. Even in sports and entertainment, where they appear to excel, it is because of the infrastructure and managerial skills the white folks have made available in various parts of the world.
A careful study of this anomaly will reveal that all these deficiencies boil down to the black man’s refusal to read. Anyone who has analytically examined what is happening today will easily agree that it has become a problem for many Africans to read.
It should be understood clearly that reading for pleasure is a good habit that keeps one informed, educated, and intellectually vibrant. It’s as important as engaging in a course of study in an institution of learning to achieve a given end either in research or to attain a degree or some academic laurel. Whatever the objective, reading and studying are noble ideals that must be pursued by people to advance their lot as civilised people in the comity of nations.
It is quite painful that whites and Asians are responsible for most of the contemporary inventions and advancements in the world today. None of the top-10 hi-tech companies originated in African nations, not even one. It is no surprise because black nations don’t invest in education as they ought to. Black African nations fall far behind the UNESCO benchmark.
Africa must begin to make intentional efforts to build it’s education infrastructure and encourage our people to develop the reading habit so as to catch up with the rest of the developed world in the technological rat race.
While Asian powerhouses, China and India, are already sending astronauts on exploratory missions in space, black nations are still grappling with existential challenges like food shortages, corruption, illiteracy, juvenile delinquency, mismanagement of resources, civil wars, and other byproducts of leadership failure. Africa is yet to industrialise, but America, Europe, and some Asian nations are already in the post-industrial era. These developed nations are already experimenting with artificial intelligence, but many African nations like Sudan are being torn apart by internal power struggles, political instability, terrorist attacks, poor governance, and tribal and religious rivalries.
Going forward, Africa must get its priorities right by investing in its youth and, by implication, their future. As it is, hardly can we find one African nation in any hemisphere that ranks with even the least developed nation in the West. Whereas some Asian and Arab nations are already breaking out of the Third World bracket into the fold of advanced nations. They were able to achieve this feat because of their high investment in education and training.
Recently, one of the presidential candidates in the just concluded Nigerian general election, Mr. Atiku Abubakar complained that the youths of this generation are more interested in social media than reading. No doubt, social media has become a big disincentive to reading for youth of this generation. It is killing interest in reading and writing. Intellectual development is also a big challenge to th Internet-addicted young folks in Africa. They cannot bend down and read, let alone engage in any type of rigorous academic exercise. This has to change if Africans are to stand any chance at all at development.
Africans must begin to realise that technological innovations can only be possible if people study diligently and are prepared to face intellectually challenging research projects.
African countries must submit to modernity by being innovative in managing their human resources. Development of any people can only be done by the people themselves. Unless people are educated, well trained, and properly motivated to learn and evolve into a creative workforce, they would not be productive.
Many young people in Africa today waste precious time on social media, seeking cheap popularity and attention and chasing needless clout, instead of pursuing productive careers that could contribute to their countries’ GDP. Young black people are pursuing get-rich-quick projects or engage in cyber crime, Ponzi schemes, and other fraudulent acts just to get by.
Sadly, despite the amount of time spent on social media, Africans are not making any significant contribution to the upsurge of new technology and knowledge explosion going on in the world. Instead, young people in the continent are migrating to developed countries to seek greener pastures because their own nations are badly rundown by incompetent, irresponsible leaders.
Africans must understand that reading is a culture that flourishes in countries where the people are prosperous and diminish in countries where poverty seems to be on the increase. In fact, extracurricular reading could be factored accurately as one of the attributes and symptoms of a high standard of living.
Going forward, young Africans must wake up to the stark reality of the pitiable social conditions they are faced with and diligently take up the challenge of developing their themselves and their nations. Nobody will help them build their countries or improve their conditions if they do not make up their minds to change their destinies for the good.