Kampala- The Minister for General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister, Ms Mary Karooro Okurut, has decried the poor reading culture among Ugandans, saying social media uptake is making a bad situation worse.
She made the remarks while officiating at the week-long Femrite – Uganda Women writers Association – celebrations to mark 20 years of existence at the Uganda Museum in Kampala last week.
“With the use of social media, people send contracted messages, which are affecting the reading culture very much. People are losing the actual literature,” she said.
She expressed fear that the reading culture will even go down because with social media, people are glued to their mobile phones, saying the role of books will not be recognised anymore.
Ms Karooro also urged government to incorporate the indigenous books in the school curriculum because of their quality work and good literature.
“These [indigenous] books are not on the syllabus and even on the recommended list of readers but it is important for the students here to read about themes that they can identify with,” she said.
She added that there is no harm if Ugandans are reading about international themes but they should also have indigenous themes incorporated because at the end of the day, writers are cultural ambassadors.
“This will encourage women to write because they are creative in nature and they are the ones who tell stories, especially in remote areas, they are natural story tellers,’ she said.
At the same function, Ms Karooro was also awarded for her effort in founding the association in 1995, which has helped majority women develop a passion in writing.
Minister Karooro is the founder president and first chairperson of Femrite, holding the title of ‘Mother Hen’ in regard to her role as founder of Femrite.
Ms Brenda Kifuka Malinga from the Ministry of Gender said government is doing its best to encourage the youth to adopt the reading culture because it is the only way to go.
“Through such initiatives, the country gets recognised beyond national borders because books and stories travel faster and wider than any other good,” she said.
She said Femrite and other literature initiatives are positioned among the key organisations that are enabling Uganda to score highly on the world scorecard.
“There are thousands of people who have never been to Uganda but have read Ugandan work, and this means writers are ambassadors in every sense of the world, especially when they are confident with their work,” Ms Malinga said.