One of the most pervasive assumptions among observers and commentators about Africa is the dearth of a reading culture among Africans. These assumptions are usually in the form of lamentations over why Africa has not, in recent times, produced distinguished writers and authors in the league of Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Nadine Gordimer, Nurrudin Farah, Ngugi wa Thing’o, Dorris Lessing, and Nawal el Saadawi, among others, or why existing writers are not producing trail-blazing, high-caliber publications. There are even jokes about the poor reading culture in Africa, such as that, if you want to hide something from an African, place it inside a book.
J. M. Souther
J. Mark Souther is professor of history and director of the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio. A native of Georgia, Souther earned his Ph.D. from Tulane University. He is co-project director of Curating East Africa (an NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant project), project director of the Cleveland Historical app (http://clevelandhistorical.org) and the Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection (http://clevelandvoices.org). Souther directs development of the Curatescape mobile publishing framework (http://curatescape.org), also developed with NEH support. He is the author of New Orleans on Parade: Tourism and the Transformation of the Crescent City (2006) and Believing in Cleveland: Managing Decline in “The Best Location in the Nation”(2017). His newest book project explores the development of Georgia’s Fall Line cities.