maktabani was birthed by a void. A void that needs us to fill it.
It is a sad fact that we are born into and bred by a society that has yet to cultivate a love, if not a reverence, for reading. Perhaps this is a result of a system that values instant gratification above almost all else. and literature is anything but instantly gratifying.
When it comes down to it, there can be no one-night stands with books.. Any book, if not every book, is an affair, it requires time and attention perhaps the two things we have forgotten how to give. Literature in our community is comatose and we made it like that, a vegetable. We are responsible for its failing heart because we have preferred summaries to sequels, skims to substance and 5-minute YouTube videos to weekend literary rendezvous. There is nothing manifestly wrong with any of these but an eyebrow must be raised if one has cultivated a taste for the mango seed in lieu of its flesh.
There is a theory(dispute it if you like, I have no intentions of ingraining doctrines) that proposes that one reason why it was so easy for a colonised people to forget their culture was because most of their beliefs were passed down orally as opposed to being ‘cast in stone’. However you choose to take this(or not take it), there is a gem of truth in it that should be not be flung aside: it is more difficult to ignore and turn away from inscriptions than utterances. It is easier to negate what is spoken than what is written.
So who will immortalise this existence for us? Who will inscribe it on paper that posterity will remember that one time the hike in the price of unga nearly made chapati the poor man’s dish? Who will teach our children to read so that perhaps one day they will write these stories for us? Who will teach a society that the value of this literature is not even in what is written but in the ways it makes us think; in what it makes rise within us and blossom?
Only we can resuscitate literature.
maktabani is dedicated to that purpose, to nursing back to health this missing piece that we so long held over a cliff and promised death.
Love literature back to health.