Sir Francis Baeon, the renowned English lawyer once asserted; “Reading Maketh A Man” And for the purpose of this article, I will add the following: And Building of nations.!!
It is really with dismay and anguish to observe that the reading culture among Ghanaian youth of today is dismally at its lowest ebb! Gone were the days when students in the secondary and training colleges in Ghana often met and discussed and argued among themselves the materials they had read and imbibed during their leisure time from short stories, novels, plays, poems etc. In fact this kind of activity preoccupied much of the leisure hours of students in those old times days worthy of remembrance in comparison to what is happening now among Ghanaian youth in the senior high schools and colleges of education in the country.
During those glorious days, especially in the 1960s and the 1970s the prevalent characteristic culture was that of reading among the youth. One could vividly recall the common reading materials among students of such renowned writers like Ernest Hermingway, Hardly Chase Peter Cherney Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Ayikwei Armah, Cyprian Ekwensi, Camara Laye T.M. Aluko, Atukwei Okai, EfuaSutherland, Ama Atta Aidoo, Leopold Senghor, James Ngugi (now known as Ngugi Wathio’go) Kofi Awonoor Asare Konadu, Amu Djoleto, Francis Serloney etc. As a matter of fact, this was the time when the culture of reading among Ghanaian youth was considerably high as compared to what one can observe now among the youth in the country today.
Conversely and negatively, Ghanaian youth in the senior high schools and colleges of education in the country today are often seen preoccupied with antisocial activities and immoralities such as drinking, smoking of marijuana and spending long hours watching pornography and immoral films on the internet for pleasure! One can imagine the long term havoc and damaging effects that will result from these antisocial activities which Ghanaians youth of today are indulging in and persuading with ease! Undoubtedly, the health and smooth development process of Ghana in the future will be adversely affected because the virile and ambitious youth of a country constitute great potential for her progress and development.
A progressive and determined nation like Ghana can only advance forward with her economic and development agenda with a healthy, dynamic and enterprising youth who are focused on the development process of the country. This is attainable if the youth of Ghana today will stop their bad habits and attitudes and engage themselves in vertious and useful activities such as spending much of their leisure time in extensive and copous reading of good and profitable materials of literature. Through this they will become empowered and capable of under taking many kinds of human adventures, experimentation and exploration that will go a long way to benefit the country on her path of development.
By developing a healthy culture of reading alongside their normal studies of their various disciplines, they will find themselves in a situation that will help them to master the physical and spiritual challenges of their environment to enable them to discover, innovate, invent and transform their standards of living through their various gifts and talents that God has endowed them with. And this situation will be highly beneficial to the progress and advancement of Ghana as a nation. A healthy, exuberant and dynamic youth is highly indispensable to the economic growth and development of Ghana.
The idea of infusing and establishing a healthy culture of reading among Ghanaian youth of today is indeed a worrying problem that must be tackled and addressed seriously now by parents, teachers, churches, traditional authorities and the government in a concerted and collaborative manner that will contribute positively to bring about a change for 5the better among Ghanaian indisciplined youth of today.
The teeming youth of Ghana today must be properly directed and organized in order to save them from their wild and aggressive behavior and going astray by the influence of all the antisocial activities and immoralities that have bedeviled and engulfed them at the moment, which go in the name of “ Civilisation “or enlightment”!
The herculean task in the solution of this problem must be equally shared by parents, teachers, churches, traditional authorities and the government so that the youth will be put on the right track and be able to develop a healthy and vertious habits that will shape them as great assets to the country’s continued efforts to achieve economic growth and development. This problem of the youth must be solved now to avoid imminent disaster that might befall the country in future.
It is obvious to me personally that, the Ghana Association of Writers( GAW) had taken note of the problem and is seriously doing something positive and pragmatic for its solution. For instance, the Ghana Association of Writer’s is currently working in collaboration with the Ghana Education Service to help Ghanaian youth to cultivate the habit of reading and this is well organized through various activities and programmes which are intended to firmly inculcate the habit of reading in Ghanaian youth. Some of these programmes and activities initiated by the Ghana Association of Writers are: an outreach programme to open up literacy clubs in senior high schools in all the regions of Ghana. These clubs are being run by the students under the guidance of their teachers.
Furthermore, the Ghana Association of Writers has initiated a programme known as GAW Sunday. This is held every first Sunday of every month which features poetry recitals storytelling, book reading, spoken word performance and music. The Ghana Association of Writers has founded a literacy magazine known as GAWSOP Filla which features literacy writings and articles from second cycle institutions in the country.
It will be appropriate and appreciable if similar programmes and activities will also be initiated and organized by parents, teachers, churches, traditional authorities and the government to inculcate a .formidable reading culture of reading among the youth of Ghana today. This will greatly help to awake the youth and help them to abstain from the wasteful and misguided antisocial and immoral behavioural practices that they are fond of.
In conclusion, the teeming Ghanaian youth of today must be helped to channel their inherent youthful exuberance to useful habits such as extensive reading of good and profitable literacy works to occupy their leisure hours. This will definitely help them to become greats to Ghana in the future. Ghana cannot afford to jeoparadise her bright future prospects by her present wild and indiscipline youth! They must be corrected and put in the right way of behavioural pattern now!
By Michael Akenoo Theatre Critic