Kindles for Africa – are they a good idea?

The Camel and Hassan Djiwa

The news that Worldreader.org is giving Kindles to children in Ghana must have passed me by last year. At the time it seems there was some debate raging over at the Huffington Post about whether or not this is a good idea.

This year Cricket Magazine has put together a nice-looking Kindle ebook called ‘The Realm of Imagination’, including a short story I once wrote for them called ‘The Camel and Hassan Djiwa’. This will be among the books that Worldreader has acquired and that kids in Ghana and Kenya will be able to download on their Kindles.

So far as I’m concerned, if the ebooks and the gadgets themselves give some kids some pleasure, then that’s great. It’s easy to be snarky about other people’s development efforts, and to witter Why-do-k-when-you-could-do-l-or-m-or-n. That way madness lies.

Anyway, back to Hassan Djiwa…

Hassan Djiwa of Gorom-Gorom was a bad man. He was not all bad – he loved his mother and he hardly ever forgot to feed Haroun, his pet aardvark. But he was mostly bad – he would lie, cheat, steal and make pirate cassettes of copyrighted music.

The Camel and Hassan Djiwa was one of the first stories I ever wrote (in my adult life at least) and has the distinction of being “the weirdest story Cricket magazine have ever published”. Hooray!

weirdest story ever published

I hope Ghana and Kenya enjoy Hassan Djiwa and his amazing Arabic-writing camel. And best wishes to you, too, Worldreader.org. May your supply of Kindles never dwindle.

On a more analogue note, FAVL (Friends of African Village Libraries) is also doing excellent work in this area. They are working with communities to create and equip physical libraries full of papery books. They have a readable and oft-updated blog, curated by clever Michael Kevane and his busy team. Definitely worth a visit.

Published by

Stephen Davies

Children's author: picture books, chapter books and YA novels

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