Pablo Idahosa, York University, responding to No. 510
There's a bit of a wasted heat here about ego-tripping. Emmanuel (in No. 505) raised some excellent points about ( for most of us) the limited value added of academic writing. But the point is that most of us do not "live" off our books, we live of our salaries, which increase to the extent that we publish books. If that's academic ego-tripping, so be it. Most of us didn't get into this for the ego-tripping of having our faces emblazoned across bookstores, but to teach, to write, and to contemplate upon what others say and write. Additionally, some of us act in various ways beyond what we do "professionally" and attempt to communicate our ideas to others and act upon principles that we believe might be valuable within our wider and larger social and political environments and communities. It used to be called praxis. There is an issue, though, as to whom we are writing for, and the extent to which we wish to change the world by doing so. The things can be brought together and be kept apart, depending upon your principles, or ego, if you will. I doubt, however, that a million seller will necessarily change the world, if people do not read it.
The issue of whom we write for in Africa, and how we support those whom we think should be reading, is another matter altogether. It is a much bigger problem than was suggested, however commendable in intent. Like everything else, it is about sustainability, which and how readerships are established and maintained. We need schools, and the institutions that sustain the ethos of reading. My father claims he read by the light of the moon and candlelight. At least he had the commitment to read; we need institutions that so encourage and provide children and young adults from all classes with the resources to do so.