By Joseph Mugabi
If a majority of Kampala City residents were reading literature in addition to newspapers, bulletins and other reading materials, the management of the ci
ty would be much easier and cheaper. As things are however, a lot of people in Uganda do not value reading beyond exams and may be a job interview. These remarks were contained in a speech by the Executive Director of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Ms Jeniffer Musisi, read for her by the Director of Education and Social Services, Ms Annie Galiwango at the official launch of the City Reading Tent. The event was part of activities to celebrate the 20th National Book Week Festival at Garden City. The Festival whose theme was Uganda at 50: Celebrating Books and Literacy was organized by the National Book Trust of Uganda (NABOTU).It is well known that Ugandans are not reading as much. This is the motivation for organizations such as NABOTU to introduce children to reading early on in their life. The city reading tent which was organized and sponsored by Children International Uganda and KCCA attracted schools in Kampala. This is a flagship activity for nurturing talents in writing, reading, reviewing, storytelling, craft making and drawings which are expected to help a child in future economically.
The colourful City Reading Tent attracted close to 80 primary schools within Kampala whose children testified that the festival gave them free time to interact with other children and teachers of other schools in knowledge sharing and talent development. Teachers and children used local materials to make valuable things like mats, ropes, pots, drawings and art work from clay, palm leaves and fibers. The activities helped children discover resources in their environment that could be transformed into useful products. In addition it built their awareness of the need to protect the environment in order to preserve the sources of raw materials like banana trees, and wetlands where palm trees and papyrus grow.
Annie Galiwango while addressing publishers, teachers, children and other partners said that lack of a reading culture sabotages development. Wealthy people who do not read incur a lot of losses in seeking simple services and information, which information is readily laying in books. She said people should not only invest in books just for the sake of passing exams and securing jobs but for knowledge that will transform society. She called on writers to write on themes that meet the individual and social goals for Uganda’s population.
NABOTU Chairperson, Mr. Martin Okia on his part called upon well wishers in Uganda and the diaspora to support reading development programmes such as the Children’s Reading Tents. He expressed optimism that this was one of the most sustainable ways of guaranteeing quality education and rapid transformation of Uganda’s economy in the next 50 years ahead. Mr. Okia thanked Children international in Uganda and the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) for supporting the City Reading Tent.
In the coming year, NABOTU and KCCA would work in an ever closer partnership to make reading a popular activity in the majority of the city schools.