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Kenyan youth embrace reading for leisure and career growth

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Bella Nyongesa aspires to become an actress and motivational speaker when she completes high school education later this year and is currently immersing herself in books that offer insight into the two vocations.

The 17-year-old Nairobi youth is enrolled at a high school in Western Kenya and her mother has always motivated her to nurture a passion for reading given its transformative attributes.

Nyongesa was among hundreds of Kenyan youth who converged at the oldest library in the capital of Nairobi on Monday to immerse themselves in a diverse variety of books as the World Book Day is being observed.

Speaking to Xinhua at the McMillan Memorial Library located in Nairobi, Nyongesa said the reading culture among her youthful peers is gradually improving with the realization it could catapult them to new levels of social and professional development.

“My passion for reading developed when I joined high school thanks to encouragement from my mother and hope to sustain it even after completing my studies later this year,” said Nyongesa.

“I try to balance reading for leisure and for examinations and visits the McMillan Memorial Library quite often during school holidays,” she added.

The vivacious youngster was on Monday engrossed in reading a wide range of her favorite subjects including English literature, mathematics and natural sciences.

“At home, I usually read fiction that offers some refreshing entertainment but at the library, I devour literature that is relevant to my school curriculum,” Nyongesa said.


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NAIROBI (Xinhua) — A man purchases a book from a street vendor during the International World Book Day in Nairobi, April 23, 2018. The World Book Day is celebrated yearly on April 23 to promote reading, publishing and copyright. XINHUA PHOTO: CHARLES ONYANGO

The now renovated and spacious McMillan Memorial Library has been providing a serene environment for Kenyan adults and youngsters to read widely and enrich their knowledge in many disciplines.

Managers told Xinhua that the architectural marvel that is more than 80 years old has struck an enduring chord with book lovers from all walks of life.

“Our reading culture may not be world class but it is slightly improving despite the technological onslaught. Kenyans are still flocking at this library to spend hours with their favorite books,” said Dickens, a long-serving manager at the library.

He disclosed that Victorian era literature, history and anthropology is still popular among Kenya’s ageing population while fiction, technology and lifestyle books animate the youth.

“At given day, we have visitors filling up the literature and poetry section while young learners prefer sections that have books on contemporary subjects like information technology, chemistry, medicine and architecture,” Dickens told Xinhua.

Arthur Muruga, an ICT practitioner in his early 30s struck a confident pose as he strode along the McMillan Memorial Library’s spacious corridor to look for his favorite books.

The confessed book lover told Xinhua he visits McMillan Memorial Library several days in a week to indulge in reading in order to broaden his knowledge in technology, culture, lifestyle and world history.

“My busy schedule at work has not prevented me from popping into this library to pick my favorite book. I can spend up to two hours reading books on modern technologies as well as economics, culture or politics,” said Muruga.

He noted that reading culture in Kenya is on a positive trajectory as ordinary citizens appreciate its potential to transform their lives and that of their next of kin.

“The new generation could as well harness modern technologies and innovations to improve on reading as a pastime and for career growth. I see technology reshaping how we interact with books in the near future,” Muruga remarked.

The McMillan Memorial Library that is managed by Nairobi County Government caters for all age groups including children, adolescents and young adults.

The library’s rich stock of children books, fiction, ancient art and culture, history, economics and applied sciences has made it a favorite destination for knowledge seekers.

Dickson Wachira, a 16 years old high school student said he looked forward to spending quality time at the McMillan Memorial Library during the April holidays.

“I usually visit the library every day except Sundays and my parents have encouraged me to read subjects that are related to my school work,” said Wachira, adding that he aspires to become an ICT administrator.

Book vendors who spoke to Xinhua during the World Book Day said they looked forward to profitable days ahead as the quest for knowledge among the youthful Kenyans improve.

“We hope more Kenyans will be buying our books that are a repository of knowledge on how to lead a healthy and productive life,” said a middle aged book vendor who requested anonymity.



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