The Importance and Pleasure of Reading By Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere

[Speech during opening Printing Works and Books Warehouse, Arusha, 29th November 1965]. Excerpt from Nyerere on Education, Volume II, Edited by Elieshi Lema, Issa Omari and Rakeshi Rajani, published by Haki Elimu and E & D Limited.

…Now let me confess to a special pleasure that is a book store and book printing works which we are today opening in Tanzania. Book production is economically important to us. We spend a lot of money on education and greater number of necessary books which can be printed and published within the country, the less will be in the short-term cost in investment in people. We shall save foreign currency if our schools can be supplied with books which are printed here. When we pay for these books we shall also be paying wages to our own people and thus promoting further development within our territory rather than abroad. These are important factors and it was not without design that the Government, in Mr. Curtis’ words, dropped ‘certain broad hints’ to the printing company to encourage them to expand their operations in this country.

At the same time I have to admit to a personal pleasure at the thought of a good book production taking place in our country. Stored in books is accumulated knowledge of man and the earth he lives in, as well as the literature of different civilizations. In time I hope that our own African traditional stories and cultures will also be fully available in this form, and I was pleased to hear Mr.Moshi say that new books are being encouraged on these subjects. But in the meantime the books which are available can teach us, can inspire us, or can refresh our minds with pleasure of good story well told. Books can break down the isolation of our lives and provide us with a friend wherever we may be.

I think we have to try hard in Tanzania to cultivate literate citizens. It is a fact which we must recognize, that in dealing with modern world, children in Europe have two advantages over our children. One is the familiarity with mechanical things; the other, and perhaps even more important one, is familiarity with books. Too often in our society a person who sits down to read is accused of being lazy or being unsociable. This attitude we must change. When we get to the position where a man and his wife sit together in the evening each reading or reading to teach other, and when children are encouraged to learn out of school by reading books which are easily available, then we shall have made a big break-through in our development….

There are many ways which we can celebrate and honour life of Mwalimu Nyerere. I am doing so by reflecting and promote literacy. For today, let reflect on Pleasure of Reading (RP). Almost everyone understands the importance of reading in life, in the excerpt above Mwalimu says: “Stored in books is accumulated knowledge of man and the earth he lives in, as well as the literature of different civilizations”.

Through reading, one can acquire knowledge which can and should be used for personal and society development. Knowing the importance of education and reading, Mwalimu made them one of central pillar in his development policies. But Mwalimu is expressing a bit of different point of view which is the Pleasure of Reading. Normal we miss this point of view when we advocate for literacy and reading. “Reading for pleasure refers to reading that we to do of our own free will anticipating the satisfaction that we will get from the act of reading. It also refers to reading that having begun at someone else’s request we continue because we are interested in it. It typically involves materials that reflect our own choice, at a time and place that suits us”. (Clark & Rumbold ,UK National Literacy Trust 2006).

Research proves that RP contributes to among other things: improving skills on writing, grammar and text comprehension, vocabulary. It also improves our thinking and communication abilities. One factor for success of reading for pleasure from childhood is availability of Print-Rich Environment, this means people can get a book or anything which they like reading. Readers should have wider range of choice as people have different taste when it comes to reading.

My call for honoring Mwalimu’s life, let’s create Print Rich Environment and make reading a family and community activity.
Mwalimu, what was buried 10 years ago was your body but your ideas and philosophy lives forever.
We remember and miss you!!
Adam Jackson Foya
Rafiki wa Vitabu.

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Published in: on October 9, 2009 at 10:48 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Yes its true that in our generation that reading is the forcing attitudes among individual due to the fact that we normally miss this kind of life to be impacted since at family level, well done sir for your advocasy.

    • Franks, thanks for reading and commenting.
      You are right, that reading should be our attitude. But to me it should not be forced to people, rather from childhood, it should be cultivated and nurtured to us. Family and community have a very important role toward reading. It is time that we take actions to make reading and creative writing a community activities.

      Adam


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