To quote Nurudin Farah, the famous Somali novelist, in an answer to a question put to him by a BBC reporter, said recently, “Somalis don’t read in any language, including their own”. There are, of course, a few individual exceptions. But that is even less than one percent among those who consider themselves literate. That is as alarming as it gets. Think about a nation that has no trained minds. What would happen to their culture, history, literary and technological advances? Here, we aren’t even talking about producing writers as there is no readership among the population. Education has lost its merited position and value in today’s Somalia as everything is possible through corruption, fraud, nepotism and cronyism in both public and private sectors.

Still, people debate on potential bright future for Somalia, the accident rise of good government, effective public institutions and Somalia becoming a petro-dollar country one day.

In my experience as editor of Warsame Digital Media WDM, I have noticed that the attention span of actual Somali reader is amazingly short. Forget about reading books. In conveying my message, I have to be brief and precise. Another impediment to attention span is the information overload: Non-readers and readers alike constantly watch and listen to anything that animates in the social media. Trained minds are usually selective in their intake of public information. It is the ordinary people who are now true victims of garbage-in-garbage-out in the internet. We are living in a difficult epoch of human civilization.

Go to Kenya and you would notice that a shoe-shinner boy would stare at newspaper in your hand to catch the latest headlines. How many decades would pass by until Somalis develop the habit and curiosity of readership?


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