Don’t believe the hype; Ugandans DO read – Femrite report

Uganda Women Writers Association (Femrite) has launched a market survey report on Ugandan literature that disputes a widely-held perception that Ugandans do not read.

The report presented last week by lead researcher, Ms Pamela Batenga, says in part: “…Ugandans read but what they read differs. Some read religious books, newspapers, inspirational and self-help books”.

It however points out that “reading literary works is competing with television and internet”. Poverty and school system that does not encourage reading are additional factors that undermine reading by Ugandans.

Another key finding of the survey shows that the production of literature has grown, with the report specifying that “literature by Ugandan authors has increased in quantity and in some cases, improved in quality”.

A publisher quoted in the report said: “…I get very many manuscripts. People are writing. Ten years ago, a publishing firm would actually look for manuscripts. Right now, in a month, I get 5-10 manuscripts…”

However, the high cost of producing literary works, lack of transparency in the process of production, lack of aggressive marketing of literary works by publishers and isolation of those who write in indigenous languages, were cited as reasons why some Ugandans shy away from writing.

The Executive Director of Femrite, Ms Hilda Twongyeirwe, appealed to the media to disseminate the survey findings as an effort in improving reading and writing in Uganda.

The survey was conducted in April and May 2015 with funding from the Danish centre for Culture and Development.  It lists a raft of recommendations including the construction of community libraries through support by Ministry of Gender, encouragement of production of local language books, as well as buying and encourage the reading of Ugandan books by the Ministry of Education.

Read the full report here with details on survey methodology, lessons learned, the influence of Femrite in the development of literature and more.

Harriet Anena

Harriet Anena is ACME’s Special Projects Officer

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