“If you can’t read, it’s going to be hard to realize dreams.” Booker T Washington 1856-1915

One of the most fundamental skills for the advancement and preservation of our livelihood, culture and survival is reading! While some may argue that there is a modicum of financially successful people who are unable to read, they also cannot deny that these people have a full complement of trained, competent staff who have not only mastered but have excelled in the art of reading. Success without knowledge is impossible. Practical knowledge may be gained and applied without the skill to read but cannot be claimed. The ability to read and write may be the only way to maintain our privacy. 


Contracts and Signatures

Not every picture is worth a thousand words. Some can be very misleading and your inability to read the caption may land you in trouble. 

Attaching your signature to any document is verification that you are in agreement with it’s content. A contract is a legally binding document. Being unable to read not only restricts your ability to enter into some contractual arrangements but can also cause you to agree to something illegal or otherwise detrimental to your financial, legal and social status. Reading and writing are somewhat inseparable. It is extremely difficult for an illiterate person to write legibly. Our reading ability enables us to make our own unique signatures which may be the difference between freedom and incarceration.


Many African-Americans lost their homes in the crash of the real estate market in 2008 partially due to their inability to read. Many did not understand the contracts which they signed and the conditions governing the loans and mortgages they took out on their properties. 

“Never forget that intelligence rules the world and ignorance carries the burden. Therefore, remove yourself as far as possible from ignorance and seek as far as possible to be intelligent.

Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Pan-Africanist 1887-1940

Preserving Our History

In ancient Africa the history of our people was passed down orally from one generation to the next. Each tribe told its own story and some salient points may have been distorted or lost in the telling. The ability to read and write gives us the opportunity to not only learn our history but to record our history as it evolves. Writing is a way of preserving our culture. However,in order to write, we have to first learn to read. History is a continuous process. It is made on a daily basis. Without records, future generations will not have knowledge of their ancestry. While technology has advanced to the level which enables us to make oral recordings, we need to read the instructions governing their operations.

Reading for Knowledge, Advancement and Enjoyment/Pleasure.

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.” Marcus Garvey

Not all information is available in audio format. Simply put, the more you read, the more active your brain remains. The more knowledge you gain, the more qualified you become which in turn will not only be great for personal development but also for professional advancement. While not promoting isolation, the ability to read gives you the opportunity to relax and enjoy your own company while exercising your brain. Bear in mind that you have a wider choice of subject matter. Books may be purchased from various sites on the world-wide-web. Pertaining to your interest, the AWS online store with our book inventory from our resident African Warrior Scholar and author Baba Mwalimu Baruti is an example of where you may find reading material.

Movies Featuring The Burning Of Books

In George Orwell’s book and movie “1984” published in 1949 they have what is called “The Ministry Of Truth” whose job was: “rectifying historical records to concord with “Big Brother’s current pronouncements so that everything the Party says is true”. This was achieved by modifying the factual contents of historical books in such a manner that they portray images and views that would present a more favorable reflection on the bureaucracy during that period. Although this is not being done outright, one can say that George Orwell was way ahead of his time. 

In the book & movie “Fahrenheit 451”, by Ray Bradbury  in a future American dystopian society, books are banned and burnt by “firemen” when found in citizens’ possessions. Originally published in 1953, the movie debuted in theaters in 1966 and rebooted in 2018 as an HBO production starring actor Michael B Jordan. (Black Panther).   

What are these books and movie adaptations telling us about the future? Why use an African-American in the latest reboot of “Fahrenheit 451”?

Outside of formal education, we, as African people must make reading, an instrumental part of our lives. Continuous reading, understanding, verifying and applying what we read is instrumental not only to our advancement but also to our survival.

Ref: The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, 1923


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