As a lover of literature, I have nothing but admiration for any venture — such as the Cover to Cover competition —which aims to raise standards of fiction writing. Indeed, there is scope for other initiatives to nurture writing talent especially among the children.
However, I regret the mushrooming of fantasy and cliché that sometimes attends them.
The Swedish Ambassador is quoted as saying that “writers are the leaders of the future”.
Wherever did he get such a ridiculous notion? WilliamShakespeare? Chinua Achebe? Dambudzo Marechera? Joyce? Cervantes? Sweden’s own Stieg Larsson, or Henning Mankel, or the recent Nobel laureate, Tomas Tranströmer?
These are arguably the greatest writers of our time but which of them sought (or still seeks) power over their fellow citizens, rather than the desire to feed their imaginations and ignite their enthusiasms? Would we want them to? As well claim that footballers, or nurses, or train-drivers, are “leaders of the future”.
When we shower schoolchildren with the warm rain of leadership promises, we blithely ignore the fact that only one promise out of a thousand can possibly be kept.
We would do better to equip them to be good citizens, and to have about them the skills and arts with which to challenge the abuse of power to which so many leaders — in all walks of life — are prone.