He calls it a “New world order” and talks about African children. There is no sign of giving up in him. He embarked on the reading crusade five years ago and is now on a worldwide mission to lift his banner even higher.
When Malawian Cleo Bonny’s late mother, Meria Hastings Nzeru, compelled him to read at an early age, he thought she was evil but now he says he understands why it was important.
Since then, he could not resist the drive to move on a borderless campaign to sensitize communities, especially young people on the benefits of reading.
The zeal for informing through the cultivation of a reading culture has taken the courageous young man to lands he has never imagined nor dreamt of, with the result that he has already travelled to 15 countries in Africa.
In explaining his motivation, Bonny said, “My mother was not rich but as a woman who wanted to live a legacy through her own children. Every night she would beat me up if I refused to read a book.”
Bonny recalled that when he grew up, the atmosphere in his home country was not conducive to learning due then Dictator Kamuzu Banda’s fearful political administration. The administration provided for poor facilities in the form of Libraries, Magazines, books, newspapers, media, tv, radio, which Banda often looked upon as breeding grounds for dissent.
Despite the odds being against him and what he called the “free development of the youth”, he couldn’t think highly about the world of work. Instead he acceded to inner voice spurring him into becoming the prophet of a “new” reading culture that was installed in him from early childhood.
“It has always been hard in all the countries to which I travelled,” he told the Sunday Standard Lifestyle.
Lately he paid R3000 to the Government of Republic of South Africa after he was declared an illegal immigrant for over staying. That was just after day the world cup kicked off.
One striking observation made by Bonny about the degeneration in the culture of reading across a number of countries he has been too, and across the world generally was that with every diminishing interest, the farther away the prospects of wealth in its many forms.
For that reason, I am convinced that leaderships, political religious and civic authorities all have a duty to shape the attitudes of young people towards reading.
He says one way to achieve this may be by way of creating a platform for discussions and voluntary reading clubs, sponsored both by the state and willing organizations and individuals.
“Bonny added, that, “This could make a common feature of every small settlement and centers of learning.”
The Ambassador of Reading, plans whilst here to appeal to local leaders including President of Botswana, Ian Khama Ministers, church leaders, wealthy individuals, academics, intellectuals, business leaders, parents, media at large to assist and disseminate wisdom, knowledge, to those under privilege ones.
He says “Through the culture of reading society and governments can close the divide between Africa and the first world gap and Africa, by enjoining the whole nation in the habit of voluntary learning by making reading a culture.”
To lay bare the folly of ignorance and indifference, Bonny paints a scenario in which every parent will be liable for tax in respect of every child born in the future.
He illustrated, “Imagine, due to growing demands for national revenues, free-education schools being repossessed, with foreign aid no longer dished out and third world nations as a result tempted to try their luck by handing over natural resources will be the European masters.”
Yet even with information at their fingertips, Bonny argued that it remained a sad reality that Africans still find it hard their own true history.
Regret was also expressed that although, Ministers of Education of different countries have preached about reading but still no impact until to date.
The Reading Ambassador loves this country so much he came to their defense in relation to accusations made by some, that Batswana are a lazy nation.
In his opinion, all it takes is just a change of attitude towards information and one’s environment, and he recommends a deliberate “reconstruction and development project (RDP)”approach in the form of multi-angled strategy to educate the whole nation especially the under privileged.
Some religious groups that had information first hand managed to use it to be strategically positioned to own land, mountains, rivers, lakes all over Africa and they became very wealthy.
“By the same token, so we can become wealthy if we read, read and read too. However African population shall be hit hard if we don’t heed,” concluded Bonny.
Whilst here, the Reading Ambassador will visit a number of schools, including Diphetogo Primary starting tomorrow (Monday) for motivational activities on reading.
The week after the next he will be wrapping up his trips for this year by travelling to Zambia, Tanzania, and four other countries.