Reading Culture: Insight from a Local Policeman

Reading Culture: Insight from a Local Policeman
9th May 2018

Photos of a few children stopping by our office to make use of the books in our library


On a recent case study with a local stakeholder, I received some insight that inspired some reflection about WIL Uganda’s impact in Busembatia. The man I was interviewing is a Police constable, Mr. Bukono, who has been in the police force for 22 years. Self-taught, he explained that he hadn’t even attended secondary school, but became a police officer and worked his way up to the senior position he has now. The phrase that struck me during the interview was when he claimed:


“For me personally I am very thankful for WIL Uganda and the reading culture you bring.”

The bookshelves we have at our office are full of books ranging from educational textbooks to childrens books to teen novels, and though this isn’t one of the main services we advertise, it is always there for the community to access and make use of, and Mr. Bukono is a frequent user.


The reason the phrase stuck with me was specifically because he used the term “culture.” When you look up the word culture in a dictionary, it is often defined as the shared beliefs, practices, and values of group of people. This made me think about how the act of reading can become a part of a peoples culture: belief in the importance of reading, practicing it habitually, and valuing the role of what reading can play in a persons life. This doesn’t mean that it is an act that is done only out of necessity, or just because we are told to at schools. Rather it is a practice that follows you your whole life and at all levels of society, whether it’s young children or elderly people in a community, whether it’s on your lunch breaks, or in bed before sleeping. Really being a part of the culture of a group of people. The importance of education and knowledge is also then taken to a deeper level, and appreciated in the many ways it presents itself.


Mr. Bukono is a wonderful example of this; even amongst his coworkers he is known for reading on his spare time and at the police station when he is working. I can tell he values the existence of our library and treats it like a resource that needs to be appreciated; just in the way he spoke about it.


This train of thought also reminded me the importance of always learning from people we interact with, especially as a visitor to a new culture. How we need to always be vigilant that we are listening and being attentive to the new environments we are in, and take in the knowledge that people are always indirectly sharing with us. Lastly I was reminded how we should encourage children to come and make use of our library, as children always hang around the office but we don’t always hand them books; however that would be such a great way of reinforcing this reading culture. I hope to use this term more often now.


By: Neda Shadbakht

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