Margaret Nyanzi is back in Kenya, thanks to the work of a curious younger woman, Monica Kanini. As the country’s first female librarian, she has had the opportunity to nurture an enduring culture of reading among millions of Kenyans.
“A lot of young people nowadays don’t believe in history and literature,” Nyanzi told the Associated Press. “In fact, they can’t even describe their own history and what life was like in Kenya 150 years ago.”
She compares this lack of knowledge to our own generation’s ennui regarding its own past, as described in the Oscar-winning documentary “Amartya Sen.” “Most Kenyans believe history is something that was never done or somewhere it’s been written out of the book,” she said.
Of course, the situation is even worse than that.
Just one hour’s drive west of Nyanzi’s former Nairobi home, 50-year-old Kanini is leading a project to replicate an old British library in Nairobi, allowing more than 100,000 Kenyans to learn about their past through books and other reading materials.