Recently I was having a conversation with my friend on “diversifying your bookshelf” versus “Africanization” of your bookshelf. She stated that most people are concentrating more on reading African books when diversifying your bookshelf means reading “all voices and not only African voices” “There’s nothing wrong with reading African voices” I stated in response.
I pondered over what she said long after the conversation was over and realized there’s some truth in what she said. I must admit, I am a bit ignorant when it comes to diversifying your shelf vs Africanizing your shelf but I decided to write this from a personal point of view.
WHAT DOES DIVERSITY MEAN?
Diversity simply means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. Diversity is a constant and conscious effort to understand and appreciate different individuals and groups as well as respect the differences. It is extremely important because it helps place value on individuals and groups and free them from prejudice.
MY JOURNEY TOWARDS DIVERSIFYING MY BOOKSHELF:
In 2018, I started my journey to diversify my bookshelf. This started with a constant and conscious effort to read books authored by Africans. After reading a few books, I realized that I was on an enlightening journey – a Re-education and Un-learning on the Point of View (PoV) that is often ignored. Quote: Until the Lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the Hunter. -Zimbabwean Proverb. This was an awakening moment for me. It was not only an issue of diversifying my shelf only but a journey of self-discovery – finding and owning my voice.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSIVENESS:
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those difference” Audre Lorde
Diversifying your shelf doesn’t mean reading only African books. No. It simply means, reading books that have different perspectives from yours. There are so many differences that are discussed in books – Sexuality and LGBTQ, Gender, Religious beliefs, Race, Physical abilities, Socio-economic Status and Age among others. Books are both mirrors and windows, therefore it is important to have diverse characters in books so that people find themselves while reading.
DIVERSITY ASKS “HOW MANY DIFFERENT VOICES ARE THERE?”
Inclusiveness means representing “all voices”. INCLUSIVENESS ASKS “HAS EVERYONE’S VOICE BEEN HEARD?”
Read books that represent different individuals and groups in the circle. There is so much to learn from reading diverse books. “Books create empathy, if we don’t have diversity, if we’re only showing things from one perspective, how are we creating empathy” –Angie Thomas
WHY IS DIVERSIFYING YOUR SHELF IMPORTANT?
- Diversifying your bookshelf gives the reader new experiences.
- Diversifying your bookshelf helps readers value the differences that exist between individuals and groups.
- Diversifying your bookshelf helps eliminate prejudice and discrimination.
- Diversifying your bookshelf leads to cultural expansion. Books become the window to glance into various cultures.
MY JOURNEY TOWARDS ADDING MORE VOICES:
After the conversation, I decided to add different voices to what I read. I will not abandon my goal of reading more African voices instead, I have decided to add more different voices. I decided to focus on Gender, Race, Sexuality and Religious beliefs – this includes “all voices”. In subsequent blog posts, I will share my recommendations. Please share if you have some recommendations.