Culture can be defined as the way of life of a people. In all societies, culture is passed from one generation to the other. This was done orally before writing was invented. Writing led to the production of books.
Thus books preserved the expression of the human mind in creativity, wisdom and knowledge of a people. Books have therefore always played an important role in the progress of society. Books and culture blend to promote national development.
The Western world and indeed all nations publish their books with their cultural settings in mind. Generations continue to read the published materials which enable them to follow their culture and promote national development.
For example, practices across various communities in Ghana teach and encourage us to keep our environment clean. This then is a cultural thing that enjoins adults and children to practice cleanliness in the home.
Now with the benefit of formal education, if this vital information is published in books and children learn more about the benefits of cleanliness at school, cleanliness becomes a natural cultural habit of the Ghanaian. Thus the government will not need to spend so much money to get rid of filth and preventable diseases, thus making money available for other developmental projects.
Books are certainly cultural tools for development and a reading nation is indeed a winning nation. It is therefore imperative that we preserve the various components of our cultures through books and keep them alive. No human society can develop in all its dimensions if its culture dies off. This can be prevented when vital information is published and immortalized in books for future generations.
Already having been dependent on oral traditions for so long we have lost vital information which could not be preserved. That notwithstanding, now that we have the means of preserving our rich cultures and traditions we have to endeavour to immortalize these through books.
These will then help in promoting national development. If the experiences and exploits of our elders were published, they would benefit society immensely and thereby promote national development.
No doubt books play a major role in the progress of humanity. Young people should therefore be encouraged to discover the pleasure of reading for vital information and also to gain renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of the society.
This year, the 15th edition of the Ghana International Book Fair (GIBF) which comes off from Thursday 24th August to Sunday, 27th August, 2017 at the Accra International Conference Centre, focuses on the linkage between books and culture with the theme: “Books and Culture in the Digital Age.”
The annual fair brings together all the players in the book industry and the education sector. The major stakeholders in the book industry in Ghana are namely, Ministry of Education, Ghana Book Development Council (GBDC), Ghana Book Publishers Association (GBPA), Ghana Association of Writers (GAW), Ghana Printers and Paper Converters Association (GPPCA), Ghana Library Authority, Ghana Library Association etc.
The GIBF’s main objective is to promote literacy and the reading culture in Ghana. It has put together a number of interesting activities for this year’s book fair, including:
- Reading clinic and literacy games for children,
- Reading sessions and time with renowned Ghanaian and foreign authors and
- ICT Seminar for JHS and SHS students on ‘Exploring the positive sides of social media.’
Also, there are a number of training programmes for the book industry players aimed at sharpening their skills and helping members to be abreast with the current trends in the industry. There will be a symposium on the use of the mother tongue (first language) as a medium of instruction at the lower primary (an issue which has become topical in recent times), as well as the usual exhibition of a variety of books by local and international publishers and book sellers.
If a nation cannot produce leaders who can promote the culture of its citizens to promote national development then the idea of creating a Ministry of Culture and Tourism will be defeated. A culturally inclined nation is always the best in terms of promoting national development, thus saving government revenue for other projects.
By Amanda Anka