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Posts Tagged ‘literate’

Photo: Addis Fortune
A passerby looks at what’s on sale at a sidewalk bookshop.

A love of reading appears to be growing in Ethiopia. According to Mahlet Workayehu at Addis Fortune and All Africa, “It is a common sight to have people carrying around books on the roads and selling them to people sitting in cars or people walking on the streets. …

” ‘Now people hanging out at bars and khat stores are buying books from us,’ says Addis, a book vendor.

“The cost of books in Addis, with the average price of a fiction novel book by a local author coming in around 80 Br [about $3.25], has increased in the past two years. …

“The people credited for expanding the readership of books in Addis are the mobile vendors. They walk around with books in their hands stacked all the way up to their neck, approaching any and everyone to buy a book of them. There are close to 1000 mobile vendors roaming the streets of Addis.

“Addis is a mobile vendor; he has been selling books for five years. Although he is not literate, Addis knows all the titles of the books he carries, whether it be in Amharic or English.” More here.

That bookseller’s lack of literacy really struck me. I work as a volunteer with adult refugees, some of whom never had any schooling and are eager to learn. Book vendor Addis is so near and yet so far from the joy of books.

(For fun, read Roger Duvoisin’s storybook Petunia, about the goose who thought she was wise because she carried around a book. I don’t accuse Ethiopian book vendors of being like Petunia, but I do wish someone could help them learn to read. Of all people, I imagine, they would most enjoy being literate.)

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