Kenyan youth don’t read - True or False?
1 weeks ago, 03:30
When is the last time you read a book? Did you buy the book, or was it a borrowed text?
That young Kenyans do not read books is not a new topic. Those who read do so for purely academic reasons, it has been said.
But are young people really reading for recreational and for intellectual purposes? If not, why are they disinclined to read? Can this situation be remedied? Or could lack of readership among young people be a blanket condemnation?
Some are faithful readers though, but what literature material do they consume? In what formats do they consume this? We spoke with five young lovers of literary works who put the state of readership among the Kenya’s youth into perspective.
VINCY MASAKA, 23
Masaka is studying gender and development at Kenyatta University. She reads poetry, documentaries, fiction and investigative material with religious consistency.
While she admits that time has become elusive due to her work engagements, Masaka says she dives into a book whenever she gets the chance. Her current read is John Grisham’s The Street Lawyer.
“Reading is a habit my mum helped to develop in me. She used to buy for me story books and novels as gifts when I was a small child. I mostly read e-books, but occasionally physical copies too, which I find easier to manage. I am also able to pass them down to my younger sister,” she says.
Masaka openly agrees that reading has become “almost an outdated hobby” among most people, particularly the youth, who find reading boring and less thrilling.
Her peers, she says, prefer to hang out with their friends and playing video games to reading books.
“Social media has disrupted everything. Young people spend most of their time online catching up on memes, breaking news and gossip, all which are of less intellectual value compared to reading,” she observes.
In her view, there is a dearth of local content in the genres of investigative documentaries, which is what excites most readers.
If she had the power to rebrand the local literary scene, she would change the marketing strategy, plot structure and the quality of work delivered by some local authors.
“Most works lack originality. The language in some of the works is not appealing enough. There is urgency to improve some of the works in the market,” she opines.
MUCHIRA GACHENGE, 21
“I don’t think our society treats reading as a primary need, which is a sad reality,” says Gachenge, a third year student of English Literature at Moi University.
Gachenge is a former Features Editor for the university’s press club, The 3rd Eye. He loves to read both fiction and nonfiction books.
“My reading list includes two books every month. These are usually the newest releases. Once in a while, I read classics, which I find irresistible and deep,” he says, adding that his love for literature was self-developed, having grown up in rural Kirinyaga County.
Coincidentally, Gachenge’s reads this month are anthologies of short stories, Tom Mwiraria’s Land of Bones launched last week and Niq Mhlongo’s Soweto, Under the ...
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