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.
Dr. Meshack Owino is an associate professor of history at Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio. He primarily teaches courses on pre-colonial and modern Africa; East Africa; Southern Africa; South Africa; and Kenya at Cleveland State University. He is co-director of the project on Curating East Africa,(supported by the NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant). Dr. Owino has taught African history at several universities, including Egerton University, Kenya, and Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. He has also served as a visiting professor of African history at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, and as an adjunct professor at Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas. Dr. Owino’s research interests include the social experience of Kenya African soldiers in the Second World War. He has published several articles on African soldiers and wars and conflicts in Africa. Born and brought in Kenya, Dr. Owino earned his B.Ed. and M.A at Kenyatta University, Kenya, and another M.A. and Ph.D. at Rice University, Houston, Texas.