BY GANJIKI D WAYNE
I’VE COMMENTED BEFORE on reading in Papua New Guinea and I’d like to do so again because I think it is such an underrated activity.
For most Papua New Guineans, reading is a hard, laborious and boring activity.
We’d rather chew our betelnut and carry on with mindless chatter with our equally narrow-minded peers, or watch a movie that stimulates none of the imaginative and creative power of the brain, or allow desperate songwriters to shape our thinking by listening to their garbage.
Reading is just not a PNG thing.
And perhaps, in our access to social network and blogging, we have worked ourselves into a false sense of security—that reading short comments and blogs is sufficient reading—besides, this way we can challenge the author right? And feel good about ourselves!
The few times I see my fellow PNGeans reading a book, be it on the bus commuting or at a park or wherever, it thrills me. It’s thrilling because it’s such a rare sight.
One day while sitting and waiting for an appointment outside our Revenue Haus, I was reading a Robert Ludlum novel. An expatriate stopped, checked out the title of my book and asked me where I got it. After I told him he simply said: “It’s rare to see PNGeans reading...”
Things like Facebook and blogs and the newspapers are huge hits with our people. I daresay we delight in reading junk (or snippets of junk).
We seem to have such a short attention span that we can tolerate newspaper articles, blogs and feedback comments...but great books by great authors are not at all in our scope of interest.
It’s even occurred to me that while most PNGeans like to posses knowledge, we hate learning. Have you ever wondered how odd it was for flunking Uni students to go riot over the grading system?
That was in my time and I’m still embarrassed because I didn’t think we deserved any grade higher than what we got. We didn’t like learning but we wanted the As.
And if our lecturers didn’t give an A we tried to squeeze it out of them by threatening to burn a few cars. Come on PNG, let’s change and create a true culture of reading and learning.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see a lot more of our countrymen read. This is why I truly appreciate great organisations whose mission is to make as many books accessible to as many people as possible. But we can all play our part in creating a new culture of reading.
At home I’ve started a book-club with my hauslain. Everyone was given a task to read a book and give a review at our weekly book review night. The other evening we had our first session. My brothers and cousins – ranging from primary school to working or Uni - all gave reviews on their books followed by some comments and questions.
It’s a way of getting us out of the trivial and generally unhelpful activities such as watching movies, playing computer games etc and getting into more positive activities.
This is a simple way to bring change to our nation. We start with the ones at home; start by helping them broaden their worldview, enlarge their brain power as well as their vocabulary.
Simple things like this can make a huge difference in the lives of people who are within our immediate sphere of influence. Please consider this an option for your household.
Reading short comments on feedback and blogs may be helpful but reading books is priceless if you really want to gain real wisdom and knowledge.
I implore you all to read further than this. Even though I’d love for you to read my blog-posts and comments and emails, and “like” them and “share” or “forward” them, it would do you and this nation much better if you now decide to pick up a good book and dive into it.
Like Abigail Adams says: “Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardour [zeal, passion, intention]”