Reading Culture and blogs

Blogging is one example of a web 2.0 tool being touted as a new technology that can be used to effect social change. However people in Zimbabwe trying to use this technology to bring about social change face a number of challenges in attempting to utilize blogs to mobilize people for a cause.
A close examination of some Zimbabwean blogs showed me that very few people are taking time to visit blogs. This is evidenced by the paucity or sheer absence of lively comments. In addition some few bloggers I contacted admitted that they are not receiving so much hits on their blogs.
A director of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair once said ‘Zimbabweans don’t have a reading culture’. This Director came to this conclusion after a paltry number of visitors attended the book fair. In fact the few visitors that attended the book fair where for business purposes.
Whilst another incredible body of evidence that suggest there is no reading culture in Zimbabwe is found in the countries libraries and bookstores. At some libraries I once visited very few people take time to read books on literary work such as novels. The situation is the same in the countries bookstores as there is a visible absence of books on liberal arts. This is because very few people are interested in such kinds of books.
I am not saying that Zimbabweans don’t read. Zimbabweans do read, but they mostly read school or college textbooks so that they pass their courses. In fact Zimbabwe has the largest literacy rate in Africa. But after completing school many people don’t read much. Statistics’ on this matter are not available but its an undeniable fact that very few people go to the bookstore to buy a book, Very few people read stories to their children. Very few people who have completed their studies go to the library,
This lack of interest in reading liberal works in the ‘paper world’ has persisted to the digital sphere. This is why a few web users visits blogs. On the other hand bloggers have become weary as evidenced by blogs that go for months without being updated.
So people working to use blogging in Zimbabwe as a means to effect social change are faced with a myriad two pronged task. First to cultivate a reading culture and secondly, to mobilize people using such platforms on their cause.


Is ICT accelerating extinction of our local languages

Our local languages are facing extinction in Zimbabwe. Our educational, political, ICT policies have promoted English to a high status. In academia if one fails English that person cannot proceed with his studies until he passes English. Even if one fails English but passes all other subjects including his native language subject, a student cannot proceed to a higher level.
Now as internet technologies spread English language is emerging as the hegemony online. There is no meaningful material online written in our major local languages. Our local languages are now only evoked to make jokes and satirical writings on facebook . Whilst I can type close to fifty words per minute in English I can hardly type 15 words in Shona or in any of our local languages. Because of the strict regard for English in the country I make every effort to try to understand how to speak, read or write it. This means sacrificing my vernacular language to do everything to learn English as without it I cannot proceed further. Today I tried reading my nephew vernacular setbook but I abandoned the book after realizing that after thirty minutes non stop reading I was still on page seven. What makes my vernacular language hard to read or write but simple to speak? Its easier for me to write a blog post in English than in my local language. I can read close to hundred English webpages per day but cannot read more than fifteen pages of information written in my vernacular language in a day. What are the reasons?
About two years ago Google started offering some of its search services in three of Zimbabwe popular languages namely Shona, Ndebele and Chichewa. However I must admit that I do not access Google in my native language even if it if offered by Google. My first switch to Google in Shona (patois) only lasted five minute.