Senior citizens from Mt Pleasant enjoyed an afternoon of readings by authors, who took turns to share tales and stories from their books in September.
The event, held at Four Ways Mt Pleasant Retirement Home was organized by Harare City Library to raise awareness about International Literacy Day and to engage with the community. Renowned writers Ignatius Mabasa and Farai Mungoshi put on a good showing, telling fairy tales, and reading excerpts from their books.
One of Mabasa’s stories told the tale of an African boy who leaves his village in search of greener pastures, inspired by how transformed one of the village boys had been after his journey to the city.
Mabasa’s vivid storytelling transported his audience back to their teenage years, lifting them out of their chairs to a time before walking sticks, as they wandered alongside the characters in his story.
Son of the award winning writer Charles Mungoshi, and an author in his own right, Farai Mungoshi read a short story from his newly published book, Dotcom, which chronicles the sad story of a young girl from Chitungwiza who dies while attempting a second abortion.
Four Ways residents expressed happiness after the event, and thanked the team from Harare City Library for the gesture.
“We are grateful that they have remembered us. Because of age, our lifestyles have become routine so it is good that we can have some refreshing moments that are outside our daily routine,” said Robert Jackson, one of the elderly residents, who also expressed hope that it could happen again.
Jackson added that such initiatives are important to them as they feel less neglected by the world.
Tinashe Kuzuwazuwa, the Mt Pleasant Branch Librarian said they were concerned about the plight of the elderly living in Harare’s homes, who can suffer from loneliness and boredom.
“The library decided to take the opportunity presented by International Literacy Day to interact with the residents at Four Ways Retirement Home. Although some of them do have families that visit, many of them are neglected,” said Kuzuwazuwa.
She also expressed disappointment that there were very few local events to do with International Literacy Day, even among writers and at schools. She hoped that the activities by Harare City Library would inspire more people to take part in the future.
Kuzuwazuwa further appealed to libraries across the country to invest more in outreach programmes which she said were important in rebuilding reading culture in the country.
“Librarians should take the library out to people such as the old, disabled, and other home-bound people who are deprived of the privilege to read and enjoy the services that the libraries are offering,” she said.
According to UNESCO, the 2016 edition of International Literacy Day marked the 50th anniversary and was celebrated under the theme “Reading the Past, Writing the Future”. It is a day marked by UNESCO to promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies.