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BW Namibia

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Literacy in Africa?

So I am just about to start reading my fourth book this year, on average I read one book a month. I tried to do some research on literacy in Namibia and there was hardly anything worth noting here on the internet.

Just out of curiosity, and because I’m too tired at the moment to wade through websites, does anyone else have any idea about literacy rates in Africa? Or rather what is it like in your country?

Even though there are bookshops galore where I live, I am not sure how many people really do read. All my male friends that I asked about this said they are not into reading unless its the sports pages. I asked a friend what he does in his spare time and he mentioned Formula one etc. at which point I stopped listening. My female friends on the other hand (well about half of them) do make time to read and buy books regularly.

At the launch of the Budding Writers Society of Namibia last year, the Master of proceedings mentioned something sad and scary to alert guests about the low rates of literacy in Namibia. He said” if you want to hide something from a Black person, put it in a book”…

We all laughed because even though it is so sad, we knew its true.

Anyway I’m reading a book published very recently in Cape Town by a dear friend Elaine Maane.

Will definitely post something about my thoughts of the book soon…


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Tsire</a>
    April 14th, 2009 @12:53 #

    Very funny about "If you want to hide something...", funny but sad at the same time. I'm not sure about the stats though, but I hope things are improving. Very few people I know read just for fun, especially people in rural areas.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Ndaba</a>
    April 14th, 2009 @14:57 #

    True, for the majority of rural folk in Africa, because of the trammels of tradition and economics,buying a book for reading purposes is too much of a luxury to worry about. If you have a story to tell, word of mouth seems to be the thing to do. This is a serious socio-economic challenge for most African govts.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Fiona</a>
    April 16th, 2009 @11:15 #

    I've seen it written on this site that the Indian government subsidises books written in local languages, so that they are ridiculously cheap and easily affordable to people surviving on low incomes. That seems a huge improvement on SA's policy of taxing books to death and then moaning about how inaccessible they are to the average South African.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sara P. Dias</a>
    Sara P. Dias
    May 8th, 2009 @19:04 #

    The CIA's World Factbook has general information about every country, including literacy rates. I don't know how up to date this info is:

    and you can gather quite a bit of data from this United Nations spreadsheet, which lists adult and youth literacy rates seperately (Last update: Dec 2008) for each country:

    and there is also:


    WEST AFRICA: Combating world's lowest literacy rates

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    May 8th, 2009 @22:22 #

    What Fiona said, in flaming five-foot-high letters...

    And someone (was it Colleen?) was telling me about fascinating research about the gendering of reading -- apparently (middle-class) women are reading more than they ever have done before -- it's (middle-class) men who are stopping reading in droves.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    May 8th, 2009 @22:30 #

    Fortunately, us high-class men refuse to read in droves. Too uncomfortable and smelly to boot.

    (Relishing my five seconds of Helen-ness as I cursor across to submit.)

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    May 8th, 2009 @22:41 #

    Richard Richard Richard. All this cross-dressing... altho I get a kick out of (being) you, too...


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