THE POWER TO READ
By Judyannet Muchiri, Kenyan Writer
You can contact her through: annetjudy
On the occasion of the International Literacy Day, I wish to focus on something that my generation has been accused of not doing enough; reading. Whether or not this statement holds any weight is a discussion to be held another day in detail today we talk about reading.
While literacy takes many forms, I believe reading contributes greatly to it. Reading gives you power. It equips your mind with information. The beauty of this is that your mind is yours and nobody has control over what gets in it. Once you fill your mind with useful information it follows that nobody can take it out. What’s more, you can do anything you choose with this information. That’s power.
With time as you keep reading you will accumulate a base of knowledge; something to base your opinions on. You are easily able to make informed choices. Further, you gain a grasp of most things that surround you; you are able to understand how systems work and how these things in your local community and your country affect you. Everything, including politics, affects you in a way and you should not only understand these things but also actively take part in them. With this base of knowledge you are confident to voice your opinion in matters such as civic education. This way you become a knowledge producer; someone to be involved (even consulted) when important issues in the community are being addressed.
Reading also makes you aware of what is going on beyond your local community or your university. As the world becomes more and more interconnected you can’t afford to stay blind to what is going on out there. Understanding what other young people are doing, say in Malawi, you are able to look at your community and see gaps that you can also fill. You become innovative.
It is argued by some that it is better to be a master in one thing rather than do everything and not be very good at anything in particular. Conversely, some think it is better to have a working knowledge of everything. I belong to the latter and I will read almost everything. If you are only picking up the habit of reading now, I recommend starting with something that excites you. Are you into machines? Well, go ahead and look for information on machines. Start with what fascinates you.
The second thing you need to pick up is History, understanding the roots of your country not only makes you understand your place and duty to your country but also understand the current state of your country. If we, the young people, do not seek our History we will have nothing to pass on to future generations. We must look back to see where we need to go. Closely related to this is the Constitution, we need to understand the guiding compass of our country and our rights thereof. The power in this cannot be emphasized enough. We also need to know what is happening in our country as well as other countries across the globe. Again, the world has become a global village. What happens to young people in South Africa, for example, might be a lesson for you and your friends on how to organize and demand for better services.
The easiest way to start reading is through your cell phone. Most of us are fortunate to have smart phones and we can access the Internet. Start there. There is a wealth of information online. Look in the right places and you will be amazed by all the things you can read and learn through the small screen of your phone. It also means that it is time to make friends with your local library. Go ahead and get a library card and if you already have one, go on and make a step.
Reading can be fun. Make it fun by discussing what you are reading with friends, form reading clubs, get others to read, go read to kids in orphanages, and create a reading culture around you in your community.
Finally, I have heard it said that ‘tomorrow started yesterday; we are already late’. This statement is true in many ways; the future is created now and it starts with what we did yesterday. By understanding the past, whether that is your History, the History of your country or your family’s, you are able to act today and have a choice in shaping your future. What an opportunity!
Go ahead and give yourself the power.
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