Ever wondered if you could be able to get books written by Ethiopian authors as audiobooks, but couldn’t figure out where you could get them? This article reviews an app that allows you to do just that- Semu Audiobooks and Podcasts.
Writing has been one major part of human evolution dating to as far back as the 7th century BC. The earliest form of writing comes from Sumer as they started writing on clay tablets to record legal contracts and lists of assets. This later developed into a means to record Sumerian literature and myths.
Then came papyrus from Egypt. This was a rather new invention that closely matches the paper we use nowadays. Thus the name paper from ‘papyrus’. Before the invention of papyrus other countries like China, Japan and the Americans also used to write on bones, shells, wood and silk.
It is after all those years of history have we reached to modern means of sharing ideas in written form, or through books. According to data from Google, there are currently around 130 million books in the world, which is a rather an under-estimate. The most read books being the Holy Bible and the Holy Quran, followed by The Harry Potter Series, The Lord Of The Rings, The Alchemist and list goes on.
The reading habit of our community, as we know it, has degraded through the years. The factors at play range from the changing of social behavior of the community to the introduction of new technological medias. The number of people picking up a book to read has been diminishing by the minute.
For instance, an article from newbusinessethiopia.com published back in November, 2019 had the headline, “Ethiopia ranks top in illiteracy in Eastern Africa”. I wrote ‘illiteracy’ in case you read it wrong. The statistics shows that about 57% of women and 30% of men being illiterate.
This number becomes especially evident when we compare it with the country with the most literate people in the world- Finland. The percentage of literate people in this country is 99%. There are many factors as to why our country has fallen behind.
Some of these factors could be traced back to the small enrollment of students, in particular from the rural area. The penetration of means to get basic educational literacy has been cut short because of the financial and infrastructural constraints we face. And this has prevented our population from reading even a single book in their entire life.
Now that we listed the drawbacks we are facing, let’s come to potential solutions. One way to curb the infrastructural constraints would be to instead use the recent technological developments as means of teaching platform, particularly by the digitizing of books from physical to soft copies.
Even better way to do this? Turn these books to audiobooks. We grew up hearing bed time stories and anyone could recall the stories because the experiences were very much enjoyable. It is what the app we are reviewing today tries to bring about.
Semu Audiobooks & Podcasts, released on Sep 17, 2021, is an app that offers a library of audiobooks and podcasts in several Ethiopian and East African languages, including Amharic, Afaan Oromo, Tigrinya, and Guragigna. It has collection of books from famous Ethiopian authors like Adam Reta, Mihret Debebe, Mulugeta Lule and many others.
The app quickly got attraction and is currently at 4.1 rating on Google Play Store, majority of the reviews given being positive. It has got over 10000+ downloads on Play Store. Most comments praise the app for its great UI/UX design. Link to official app on play store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.semu.app.prod&hl=en&gl=US
Reviewing the app myself, I noticed the audio quality is also a key strength worth to be mentioned. The podcasts have good content and are well put in terms of their audio mixing and recording. The ability of having books not only in digital form but also in audio format also enables you to be able to listen to books on the go or while doing something else.
This especially becomes beneficial when you have a tight schedule and just can’t fit reading books in your day to day routine. With audiobooks you can listen to the audio book while on the bus, or jogging, or driving. It seamlessly blends with your routine and given one audiobook averages about 9 hours you could easily complete one book each week without disturbing your normal busy day schedule. Great habit indeed, right?
Abel Kinde, a second-year med student spends most, or lets say pretty much all his time, studying for his exams as the course load is huge. But he also has been an avid reader and one approach he came about to still be able to fit reading and staying current to various new developments in his tight schedule was to start listening to podcasts and audiobooks.
A review he gave after using this app was and I quote, “I liked the app design and interface from the get go and the narrators were especially very great. I also liked that there were books available in various languages, I was surprised to actually see books in Guragigna. My only suggestions would be to make the payments go a little cheaper and add more organization and content to the podcasts, which I believe will improve as the app grows. Overall, I rate it good.”
I also believe as the app grows more and gets more users the services will become cheaper and more content will be added. And as users we should get onboard and help the app attain just this. As a closing note, I would like to invite you to listen to an audio taken from Solomon Abebe’s book titled Exodia detailing the lives of migrants, their sadness and happiness.
Article published by newbusinessethiopia.com