Sowetans Still Read Books

Sowetans Still Read Books

Wise man's friend: Sowetans pour cold water over a perception that they don't buy and read book

Malls and shopping centres across Soweto don’t have book stores. Some of the stores have been closed down for reasons known to the owners. Despite this setback, Sowetans claim to be buying and reading books. They dispel as untested assumption that they don’t read.

Simphiwe Ntuli refutes the claim that people don’t read. “That’s a lie. I borrowed this book from a friend,” pointing at The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Green, “but I realized that I needed my own copy. I went to several malls without any luck. Fortunately I found it at this books stall at the mall,” he says with excitement.

Simphiwe thinks that, although films and watching television is entertaining, books are more stimulating, broaden the mind and enlightening.

Soweto-born and one of revered authors in the country, Niq Mhlongo, emphasizes that people in Soweto do read; a lot. “I deliver and sell my books from a boot of my car. The demand is higher than before. For instance, the Abantu Book Festival – hosted in Soweto – is the biggest in the country and it is only two years old, thanks to the support from people of Soweto.”

But where are the book stores at Soweto shopping centres? “Those book stores are irrelevant. They prioritize foreign books over the locals. They are not in line with the interests of the people,” he says adamantly.

Books vendor, Taylor Matsime concurs with the two speakers. He vouches: “People do buy books that is why I am still in business.”

His best-selling books are religious, dictionaries and political books due to the shifting political landscape in the country. Self-help books do sell too.

If indeed a book is a wise man’s best friend, then Soweto has many wise people….