Voices of Africa – Roseby Gadama, Librarian in Malawi

Malawian Librarian, Roseby Gadama

Voices of Africa is a new monthly Book Bus feature, sharing stories from inspiring voices in the various Book Bus communities. Each piece will be brought to you in the storyteller’s own words. We hope you will enjoy the series.

“My name is Roseby Gadama and I am a Librarian at Malawi National Library Service in Blantyre. My first job was in teaching. I was a primary school teacher for some years but I thought of exploring other avenues. I applied at the Malawi National Library Service as the job itself was not very different from what I was doing in teaching. As a teacher I was imparting knowledge and information to the pupils and as a Librarian my main duty is to share books and information.

“I’m Head of the Extra-Mural Service Department in the Southern part of Malawi which is comprised of 13 districts. The department mainly deals with outreach programmes like establishing and organising new libraries, distributing books from different donors to the National Library centres and other beneficiaries in the region, monitoring and assessing libraries and also equipping other people with library basic training.

Encouraging children to read

“I joined the National Library with a little knowledge of Librarianship but wanted to develop this knowledge to become who I am today. My main challenge was the time I went to study for my Degree in Library and Information Studies. It was very challenging because I had to leave my family, husband and two children behind to study in Botswana. We also had to find all the fees for this degree. It wasn’t easy for my husband who had to support me, the family and lots of other financial commitments too. It was worth it though as now I’m qualified and in a stable job.

“The library I work in serves a community of more than 100,000 people. It is the largest public library in Blantyre. The library has 200 seats and everyday every seat is occupied with people studying. Other readers sit on the floor and the ground outside the library as so many people want to use our service. Efforts are being made either to extend the recent library or to erect some chalets outside the library so that readers who could not find space inside could have some shelter but it is proving difficult due to lack of funding.

Roseby joins fellow librarian Nancy for a Book Bus storytelling session

“I come from the village in the Eastern Region where many children don’t go to school due to the long walking from the village to school. In fact there’s no school in my village (no kindergarten or primary school or whatsoever) – to have a library or a resource centre would be a luxury.

“Being a teacher and now a librarian, it is my dream to have the children from my local area to have a school nearby and a library. A library would help them in many ways, because that’s where they’d learn more about health, farming, food and nutrition, human rights, academic information, current affairs or just leisure.

“I appreciate the work being done by The Book Bus in Malawi by promoting education and reading to the needy children in the remote areas. Indeed it might look like things aren’t changing today when the Book Bus visits the schools and do some storytelling and some games. But in the long term children’s’ lives are changing little by little and at the end of the day they will never be the same.

“My message to the Book Bus? Keep it up THE BOOK BUS!!” 🙂

Rose Gadama works for the National Library Service at Blantyre library.