When we write, we can read and when we read we have hope and with hope, anything is possible. I have come to learn that an act that most of us think of as being hectic and useless is actually very important. As we search for treasure in this world, we should never forget that one of the surest places to find it is between the covers of books. If we want to be successful in life, we should then embark on our faithful companion - books. This companion will always help us and will sometimes delight us. She will never desert us and will make us smarter and wiser every day we spend with her.
Indeed, one Ugandan journalist succinctly summed up the importance of reading when she related the following words: "If you seek a happy and interesting life, one of depth, meaning and accomplishment, you must read books."
I am going to share an observation from the recently concluded general elections in Uganda that I will never forget. I had been seeing it for a while but last year it broke through to me in a new way. I saw something especially among politicians and journalists - two professionals from which excellent work is now more crucial to our country than ever. These young reporters and candidates for office are college graduates, they are in their 20s, 30s and early 40s. They are bright and ambitious and work hard. But it became clear that they had received most of what they know about history through screens. They have seen the movie but not the book. They have heard the sound bite but do not read the details. They read headlines on television and turn to another channel for more headlines.
Their understanding of history is therefore superficial. Here is the problem. If those trying to make history have only a shallow sense of history, they will not be able to make anything good. Reading books forces you to imagine, question, ponder, reflect, and connect one historical event with another. In addition to that, it provides deeper understanding of political figures and events of world and life itself. Watching a movie about Vanvicker shows you drama. Reading history of it presents you with dilemma.
The book forces you to imagine the sound, cold, tone and tension, the logic of events. It makes your brain do work. But oddly, it is work the brain wants to do. A movie or a documentary is received passively. You sit back, see and hear. Books demand more and reward more. When you read them, your knowledge base deepens and expands. In time, that deepening comes to inform your own work. Sometimes in ways of which you are not fully conscious. You become smarter and deeper. That happens with books.
Therefore, my fellow Africans, let us embrace the reading culture. Teachers should advise learners to spend more time interacting with books. The word book is short but can help you reach greater heights than you can really imagine. Together we can create a positive change in our communities. Read a word each day and change someone’s life.