“Kenyans are voracious readers” screamed yesterday’s headline of the Daily Nation. This, apparently, is according to a study that was conducted by Kenya National Library Services (KNLS) and released recently .
Out of the 950 people who were asked to fill questionnaires, 85% indicated that they actually read with the dailies ranking high up in their reading culture list. Next are magazines then bibles/religious books and finally fictional books.
It however seems that KNLS did not conclusively define what ‘reading’ actually means and it begs the question, what exactly do we mean by reading? Is it-;
a. Reading the literature that comes with almost all drugs describing known and unknown side effects as well as the drug’s chemical breakdown. (This only happens because Kenyans share drugs and so they need to know if the drug that was used to treat arthritis can work on stomach ulcers)
b. A walk on the streets of Nairobi and a chat with the ever increasing number of magazine/tabloids venders will leave you convinced that Kenyans read a great deal. They (Kenyans) religiously follow the fashion trends seen in the likes of True Love, Eve, Vanity Fair, Adam etc despite most of these magazines giving a false image of very happy interviewees who live in mansions that are truly out of this world. I think it gives most ladies a false illusion of being in the magazine world. Apparently some Kenyans also prefer reading tabloids about sagas of some celebs or some politician
c. Reading the ‘store in a cool dry place’ instructions on products in the supermarket
d. Reading newspapers which are mostly full of politics(no wonder Politicians are Kenya’s NO.1 celebs) I can’t remember the last time that a Kenyan daily had a headline or photo or anything other than a Kenyan politician
e. A prayer book/self help religious book (not that I have anything against religious reading) but reading ‘the ultimate guide to the power of miracles” only helps get Dr. Bishop, MP, the right reverend…..more followers and makes one wonder if religion has become just about miracles and healing.
f. Reading about “10 ways to make a woman orgasm” on some website or reading the status updates of friends/fans on face book.
g. Reading a bedtime story to your kid – this does not mean that you read-plus most parents have left the bright screens to tack in their kids.
If this is reading, then Kenyans read a lot and publishers should stop complaining and start printing their books like glossy magazines with photos of politicians on the cover page, include enticing photos plus post status updates.
A note to KNLS- you don’t ask Kenyans if they do certain things, it is a well known fact that Kenyans are very positive people and will say what you want to hear. What KNLS should have done is visit peoples home and make a conclusion based on how many Kenyans actually have: – a library, book shelf, actual books. They should have also sought to know the actual titles from those who admit to have read certain books as well give a summary of what the book was about.