A few of our international book fairies kindly wrote a piece about the reading culture in the country they live. Here is Amatullah’s – she lives in Kenya.
Kenyan reading culture
Kenya is proud to boast a literacy rate of 85%, the fourth highest literacy rate in Africa (according to The African Economist) yet, we have a very poor reading culture when it comes to anything besides newspapers. The Kenyan life is normally fast paced where we use a lot of our time either holidaying or finishing up work.
We commute for hours, however one would see few with a novel in their hands. Reading is considered outdated by the young, and a waste of time by some of the old – but a great reading culture is what many aim for since without the reading culture at times we are stuck in a bubble of just reality and never in the realm of imagination.
But – we are also the land of storytellers, with folk tales being passed down from grandmother to child, from teacher to student. One of the main problems that Kenyans face is the non- accessibility of books. We have re-sellers for books all through the Central Business District of Nairobi but once you go out of Nairobi, the availability of books slowly dwindles to nothing.
I, personally hope, that initiating the “Vitabu kwa Safari” (translation- books on travel) we may be able to bridge that gap and also widen the reading horizon beyond just newspapers.
Amatullah, on why she became a Book Fairy
“Books are gateways to extraordinary worlds and a plunge into the minds of extraordinary people. I can’t wait to be a book fairy to broaden my horizons and broaden the horizons of my country. Book fairies are people who change other people, one book at a time and I can’t wait to be a part of them all. Sharing the spirit of Harambee and pitching together for a better world.”