Reading Culture: Insight from a Local Policeman

9th May 2018

Photos of a few children stopping by our office to make use of the books in our library   On a recent case study with a local stakeholder, I received some insight that inspired some reflection about WIL Uganda’s impact in Busembatia. The man I was interviewing is a Police constable, Mr. Bukono, who has been in the police force for 22 years. Self-taught, he explained that he hadn’t even attended secondary school, but became a police officer and worked his way up to the senior position he has now. The phrase that struck me during the interview was when he claimed:   “For me personally I am very thankful for WIL Uganda and the reading culture you bring.” The bookshelves we have at our office are full of books ranging from educational textbooks to childrens books to teen novels, and though this isn’t one of the main services we advertise, it is always there for the community to access and make use of, and Mr. Bukono is a frequent user.   The reason the phrase stuck with me was specifically because he used the term “culture.” When you look up the word culture in a dictionary, it is often defined as the shared beliefs, practices, and values of group of people. This made me think about how the act of reading can become a part of a peoples culture: belief in the importance of reading, practicing it habitually, and valuing the role

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14th March 2017

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On the 2nd of March, WIL Uganda celebrated International World Book Day. If you mull that sentence over for a couple of times, it begins to look strange. World Book Day is not a holiday proper. It is on a par with World Pet Day. Far from everyone knows of its existence and, I submit, fewer remember the date. Reactions are usually ‘ah, is that today?’ instead of ‘Happy World Book Day!’

Not so in Uganda. Together with Noraly and Joseph, I picked up a group of students from Townside High School. I preach my love of books and reading here during the weekly book club that is part of the Literacy programme. While walking back to the office, I wonder. Is WBD really for us? For them? They hardly have books, there is no reading on the curriculum in schools. Could they name one Ugandan author? We make it to the office a little before 11 and show them around. Even though our event is outside, it is worth the slight delay to show them the inside: some of their pictures are on our walls. There is a mixture in the air of stolid concentration and elated excitement when they find a picture of themselves. Outside, where we have decorated the outer office with banners that Joseph whipped up, and an easel with Poppy’s delightful summary-in-drawing of Harry Potter, we explain the day’s objective. They are to read a story, in groups of 5, sum