We plan to bring you regular highlights from our Pinterest boards, which are kept active by a team of ‘virtual volunteers’ in the USA and Ghana. We have our partners Friends of Mmofra to thank for recruiting and managing student ‘pinners’ on our behalf!
Pinned to: Africa Inspirations
This week’s picture comes from the First Lubuto Library in Lusaka, Zambia. But as you’ve probably noticed, it isn’t a picture of the library itself. It doesn’t show shelves, books or children reading. So why have we chosen it?
Let’s look at what it does show. The caption to the original picture is “Insaka, where children wash their hands upon entering.”
An insaka is a round, open-sided meeting place. According to Zambia Vernacular Architecture, the word means ‘place to gather’ in Bemba. So the picture shows that where there is a library, there will be people. Libraries can bring communities together.
Inside the insaka is a tap and basin. We can tell from the faces of the children that they didn’t pose for the picture. Nobody told them to use the washbasin. It is simply part of their visit to the library.
When a library becomes a community meeting place, it also becomes a platform for other things. Here it helps teach children the importance of sanitiation – not just for personal hygiene, but for protecting books that can be damaged by dirty hands.
Lubuto Library Project’s mission statement says:
Lubuto’s full range of preservation, reading promotion, educational and social service activities are a model for the valuable role libraries can play in national development. …. The significance of publicly accessible libraries as a gathering place and safe haven cannot be underestimated.
Reclaiming local literature
As well as establishing community libraries, the Lubuto project helps introduce Zambian kids to the children’s literature of their own country.
Its staff and volunteers hunt down forgotten books in local languages, digitising them and making them available online.
In the video below Mulenga Kapwepwe, the chairperson of Zambia’s National Arts Council, talks about why the project is both important and exciting:
Could Ghana do the same?
If a team of volunteers went in search of Ghanaian children’s books from previous generations, what would they find? Are there forgotten books hidden in your house?
At Mmofra we’ve produced modern versions of our founder’s work for children, including an award-winning illustrated audio- and e-book of Voice in the Forest.