Attrition of libraries and proliferation of pubs in coastal communities


I would not pass by my hood in La – Accra without bleeding. It has always been the same spirit, energy, and continuous hustling throughout the streets. Nothing seems to have changed.

Looking back, while we – as secondary school students – were preparing for our final exams, what hassled us was the unavailability of a library – a conducive place we could study and read more.

At the time, the Presbyterian Church of La was meeting our demands to some extent. Their library has been there for ages. It’s just small in size and could hardly accommodate 10 people. On top of that, they close around 7:30 – 8:00 P.M. so we had to shuttle between there and La Presec.

Learning at the latter – my alma mater – was a bit challenging because students from other schools also came there to study. (And you know students tend to focus on the vital few and trivial many when they meet in their numbers.)

The attrition of libraries is high, and reading hasn’t been taken seriously in our communities to date. When aspiring Members of Parliament (MPs) are campaigning, they leave out the libraries and avenues to make reading appealing to the teeming youth. Over a decade and more, the entire township still had no newly-built library.

Around 2015, a native who had been away for some time thought it wise to erect a free library, fully-furnished with books and computers and Internet connectivity for research purposes. To say patronage was low is an understatement. Those youths who visited the library did so only to use the facility for their parochial cyberfraud activities. Unfortunately, I learned the library is now collapsed.

In spite of these reflections, the town keeps witnessing the proliferation of betting centres – not sports betting alone, but also game of chance purposely for children between the ages of 10-15, to stake with coins and win a ransom.

Again, with the youth (mostly from 16-30 years), the new menace is the proliferation of recreational centres. Everywhere you go, there’s a pub; and these pubs host multiple events throughout the week.

Boys-boys and girls-girls meet to drink liquor and smoke ‘shisha’. The pub managers, who are usually youths themselves, boast customers’ intoxicating or smoking prowess more than other pub members as if that’s all life has to offer.

This isn’t to suggest that social life is tripe. Of course, we need a place to relax and think about tomorrow once in a while. We need to swim, trot at the beach, or take a trip away from home; but should we put our livers at risk while making merry?

The worst of all the problems is the tomorrow of our children. Our doings in the community have programmed them in a way that seems that reading is akin to time wasting, while gambling is a lucrative exploit.

Reading has become a luxury our future children can’t afford. Their minds are being towed toward a menacing future as they always capture smokes of ‘shisha’ whirling in the air, women wriggling their waists and writhing on the floor like snakes, and men dancing with sagged trousers while breaking bottles of hard liquor. Hence, they’d rather enter a lion’s den than visit the library.

Children of Ga communities like La, Teshie, Nungua, Jamestown, Chorkor, etc., are growing and might not learn how to create or add value to their lives. Meanwhile, their co-equals at other places – East Legon, Cantonment, Nyaniba Estate, South-La, Westland, among others are building themselves with exposure to library, books, coding, etc.

But here we are in the township, glorifying political mediocrity with our last breath. And we aren’t encouraging the children to be sensible at an early stage. It makes my heart bleed. So sad! And too painful.

A generation that doesn’t read would bleed of misdeeds and be misled. The continuous bleakness should break, it’s doable.

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