By Dr Henry Ilunga Kasongo,
Monday September 24, 2007 [04:00]
Your editorial entitled ‘Culture of reading’ in Saturday Post of September 22, 2007 made very interesting reading and should be seen as a call to all Zambians to reflect on what the future of the country would be if this sad situation remained unattended to.
I fully support your opinion published in the same editorial which states: - A massive investment in improving access to books through public institutions such as schools and libraries is not a luxury but a matter of absolute urgency.
Surely books and libraries are not development luxury but are essential, especially in our so-called information age - Unfortunately in a country where the majority of people do not read because of absence of reading culture and poverty , the government and the private sector have not done much to correct the situation in facilitating access to books to Zambian citizens.
Books are still a luxury in Zambia due to the fact that they are very expensive. It is also sad to note that, after 43 years of independence, bookshops are not available in some provinces of Zambia.
Does it make sense that at Arcades Shopping Mall, for example, a novel entitled The Innocent Man, written by John Grisham costs K200, 000? In a country where more than 70 per cent of the total population live on less that 1 US$ per day, such a price is in itself discriminatory as it excludes many Zambians from taking part in the pleasure of reading which seems reserved to a minority of rich people.
How much is the minimum monthly wage for a worker in Zambia? Would it be responsible for a parent to spend almost the whole salary on a novel which costs K200, 000?
Further, there are areas where books are not available. For example, an addict-reader based in Mongu would be required to travel to Lusaka to buy a novel. Such a person would spend between K 50000 to K 200,000 for one novel , K 155000 for transport Mongu- Lusaka - ‘Mongu;
What about his upkeep in Lusaka and transport within the capital city? Is it normal that after 43 years of independence a book is still an expensive and rare commodity for ordinary Zambians?
Zambia’s poor culture of reading can not be looked at as an irreversible situation. What is lacking is the political will to improve our education sector and the living standard of ordinary Zambians.
Political affairs have taken centre stage that our leaders’ attention is diverted to things that have no direct benefit on the majority of Zambians. What is the cost, for example, of a by-election?
How many books, if by elections are discouraged or avoided, can be bought for our provincial or district libraries? Why is it that our few libraries are empty while money is available whenever there are politically- induced by-elections caused by unprincipled and job-seekers who jump from one political party to the other?
Kneeling for Levy
By Raphael Mukuka,
Monday September 24, 2007 [04:00]
It was shocking to see the defence minister Mpombo kneeling before President Mwanawasa and when you look at the face of the President, I don’t think it rings a bell to him that the gesture portrays a master and slave picture to the public.
We live in a modest century where respect for authority can still be served in other forms and gestures other than kneeling.
What Mpombo portrayed was an image of boot-licking and I doubt a person like him would advise the President rationally.
Such behaviour instills dictatorial tendencies and hero-worshipping in leaders and it should be avoided.
He could have asked for a seat as he chatted with the President instead of kneeling which him in my view.