The Chairman of the National Media Commission, Nana Gyan Apenteng, has said the decline in reading is the inevitable response to failure of the nation to provide the means to encourage and cultivate the habit of reading.
He said: “…Reading has fallen way down the priority list of governments in the last few decades and we find nothing in the present to encourage us to be optimistic”.
Nana Apenteng was speaking at the 16th Ghana International Book Fair in Accra on the theme: “Revitalising the Book Chain for National and International Cooperation.”
The Ghana Book Publishers Association, organized the fair to create a platform for actors in the book industry to showcase their products, exchange ideas and inculcate reading among school children.
Nana Apenteng, who is also the President of Ghana Writers Association, said even in the hard bad days of the late 1970s and early 80s when everything, including newsprint was in short supply, people queued for newspapers every morning and those who were not fortunate enough to find some would borrow to read.
“Today, the story is different. Even in this massively literate audience you would struggle to catch people reading. Of course, we would all claim that we are reading on our phones but that is largely untrue…unless reading WhatsApp messages can be described as reading,” he argued.
The NMC chairman said though there were many efforts to improve the reading situation in the country the industry players were all doing little in their different corners and urged them to gather the critical mass, especially in advocacy, to effect change.
Nana Apenteng said the nation must get its priorities right adding that the current debate on building a national cathedral in Accra “speaks about our priorities as a people and as a state”.
“It does not matter whose money is involved but from where I stand, and seeing what I see travelling up and down this country, I would think that it would be better to invest any such money in building libraries and book stocks across the country,” he said.