Currently the Marketing Manager for the Africa region for Cambridge University Press, Wonder Chabalala has worked with and been inspired by books all his life. He developed a passion for the industry after becoming a part-time bookseller for a large retail company while studying, and since then has been in the book industry for 22 years in both retail and publishing. Wonder shares powerful ideas of why reading can be a collective change-maker:
When last did you read a good book just to get lost in another world and stay there for some time, learning new words, use of words and simply savouring each moment? As a publisher and a book lover, I hate finishing a good book as it means having to find a new one – something that isn’t always easy! I grew up around books and still share books with my sister and brothers today. When we meet, we speak about the books we’ve read and what we learnt from them. It’s a real book club moment to realise that we all have learned and experienced something different but all equally valuable.
It’s important to me that we grow a nation of strong and powerful readers, but how do we change the phrase ‘black Africans don’t read’? We have good books about South Africa written by black South Africans. Books that are illustrated and have great story lines about our country. This is how we share our cultures and tell our stories. Let’s discover the treasures and knowledge hidden inside books so that we can share this with future generations. We have a hand in what the education system is teaching our children. We are also fully responsible for what happens to them. Let’s guide and teach our children well as we keep their minds active.
In my childhood every household owned a Dover stove. In a typical scene, Mother would be making supper and the whole family would be be gathered in the candle-lit kitchen listening to the radio or to our parents telling stories. We didn’t worry about data or load shedding and it was this family time that bonded us together and instilled my love of words and stories.
Storytelling has been around for so many years; let’s preserve that. Let’s find time to read to our children and teach them how to read and write in their mother tongues. Let’s build that culture of reading and sharing words and story worlds. Great leaders write and read books. What kind of leader do you want to be?
For tips on how to make reading a part of your daily family life, click here.