Yaounde, Cameroon, Africa. (Cameroon News) – The Minister of Culture seeks ways of reviving the book industry and reading culture in Cameroon. A national forum to that effect is underway in Yaoundé.
Key actors in the book sector in Cameroon are suggesting that the introduction of libraries in schools, the setting up of books development council and the drafting of a national book policy are measures that can boost the book industry in Cameroon and enhance the culture of reading in the country.
The proposals have been made at a national reflection on the Cameroon book industry that opened in Yaoundé today grouping writers and publishers.
Cameroon’s Minister of Arts and Culture Ama Tutu Muna who is chairing the deliberations underscored the role books play in the development both of the person and the nation given the information they convey.
The reflections are taking place under the theme Reviving the Book Industry and Reading Culture in Cameroon.
The Minister of Culture says the book industry is fraught with irregularities that affect the production, distribution and storage of books nationwide.
Minister Ama Tutu Muna was speaking in Yaoundé today while launching a national forum of stakeholders of the book industry in Cameroon. The actors are working towards reviving the book industry as well as the reading culture in the country.
We spoke spoke to some stakeholders:
There were publishers, writers, authors and many others in the book production team that came to exchange the difficulties they encounter in the book industry, the Acting General Manager for Anucam.
The very first problem is the problem of finance. Publishing is capital intensive. The government does not support publishing at all. Banks too are not willing to give us loans. The second major problem is piracy. A greater number of our books are being pirated. This actually leaves us with huge stocks at the end of every year.
The stakeholders proposed that for the book industry to be revived, libraries should be introduced in schools to promote the culture of reading. They also proposed the creation of professional associations to discuss problems affecting the book industry.
A writer told us:
Generally our literature, be it in textbooks or in fiction is not given the interpretation it deserves by the readers. They tend to read to pass exams instead of reading to cultivate themselves and cultivate a sense of sophistication. When I write and somebody is telling me how to write because I must write for the textbook, that indirectly infringing on my liberty to express myself. I feel so disturbed that many Cameroonians don’t like reading. Books have never been part of our culture. People rather drink a bottle of beer or eat to their fill rather than limit what they drink and eat in order to nourish the mind by reading.
The stakeholders also suggested that contests in reading and writing should be organized frequently in order to enable Cameroonians to read and write. They also said there should be mutual trust and confidence between publishers and authors.
Disclosing the difficulties that writers face linking it to the poor reading culture in Cameroon, one writer said:
We do not have the enabling environment to encourage publishers and writers. When you talk about lack of reading habits it’s also the lack of libraries.
The schools are supposed to be the ones encouraging reading habits so that when the children grow a family they take to that habit of reading.
When you can read then more people will begin to write and as more people write you find that publishers will be available to publish their works.
The two important things to enable us to promote the reading habits is put in in place the enabling environment which is a book policy and secondly the development of libraries in schools and also in the communities.
There has been a long-standing joke that Cameroonians generally do not read even if you wrote on a much loved bottle of beer. Is this statement a true reflection of people’s reading habits?
What Cameroonians are reading:
A random appraisal of the reading culture if at all one exists in Cameroon borders on the negative.
Cameroonians don’t read. People draws and look at the TV but we don’t read.
Many people make use of the information they get from their dear fellows. They don’t get that information from documentation. They don’t do that.
I would say they read. If they were not reading there would not have a proliferation of newspapers everywhere.
Those who say they do read end up mentioning books that are related to their professions.
Because I raised a child I used to read to ameliorate my lesson.
I read books like Handbook of Electronics.
In the other general knowledge books I usually tie it to the daily news, a hobby or novels that fall in the category of classics.
The one I always go back to is Things Fall Apart because that actually depicts the true African society.
I used to read medical books, first aid, medical plants for my personal use.
The only thing I read on my line of work is things like newspapers. I’m not used to reading novels and none of that.
Remembering the title, author’s name or the timeframe within which they last read a book does not come easily.
it was a book that talks about maternity methods.
I was reading – I read a magazine yesterday.
Some attempted to explain why there is a poor reading culture and also proposed solutions.
I think that if we are going make every city libraries at schools
Proposals which hopefully are workable and come up at the national consultation event for reviving the book sector and reading in Cameroon.
The Minister of Culture is seeking ways of reviving the book industry and reading culture in the country. A national forum to that effect is underway in Yaoundé.