WHERE IS THE READING CULTURE IN NIGERIA FLEEING TO?
‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, the man who never reads lives only one.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson
‘They was going to the market when the bomb exploded’
‘He have graduated from the university’
‘When he get to the house, he now start going back instead of going inside’
Don’t even get me started o! The level of blunder our children and youth commit in this country is incredible. Imagine a graduate teaching children with those kinds of grammar above! What will such kids become tomorrow? I don’t know about you, but I read some of the things that people post on facebook, even while attempting to correct others or insult them for their use of English, I shudder. Graduates! I used to get annoyed when people lament that many Nigerian graduates are unemployable. But now, I don’t know if that’s really a wrong assumption judging by the English we speak and write. It will be hard to employ someone who cannot express his/herself properly in English. I’d wonder how they came about the certificate if it were me. I think it centers around this endemic ‘sexually transmitted degrees’ syndrome in our universities. Since there is an easy way to secure the certificate, why read? Law of least effort.
The importance of reading cannot be over emphasized, yea. So why do Nigerians mostly run away from reading? We can attribute it to bad economy, high cost of books, internet addiction, materialism, religion, upbringing, environment, lack of facilities and conducive environment, attitude and so on. All of them are possible causes to which we contribute one way or the other. Since we all have a stake in it, we must join hands to challenge this status quo in our own individual and collective ways.
Before we start pointing fingers at government, teachers, and all those, let us zero the beam on us as parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, neighbours, matters not the category you fall into. There is always a child somewhere around that you can mentor and coach. That is if we are well coached ourselves. That is why we need to improve on our own reading culture so that we can be better teachers and mentors for the younger ones. I cannot begin to enumerate the joys associated with reading, nor the impact it can have on a person’s life, I am a testimony to that, so can you be if you are not already. Instead of buying irrelevant stuffs for these children, we can get them children’s novels and books, from tender age. That is how they can imbibe the culture of reading and grow with it.
Some of these NGOs can help form accessible book clubs where people can go to borrow books, discuss them with others and learn. I even stumbled on one online book club here in Nigeria, http://www.rcbc.org.ng. such efforts ought to be replicated. We cannot leave everything to government.
This addiction and over dependence on television and the social media should be looked into, parents and wards. There are a whole lot one can learn from the internet, but most often, the young go for just fun and entertainment. Monitor and control the contents of what your young ones gulp in. Some of these long periods in front of the tubes and phones can be reduced to accommodate reading.
How I wish all these real life shows like Big Brother Africa, Gulder Ultimate Search, Nigeria’s got talent and the likes, will involve reading and books in their shows. Let there be one thing that will challenge and benefit the intellect in them. Television shows can also serve as platform for promoting reading culture as Oprah Winfrey does in hers.
Schools! How many of them have standard libraries? Seek out these NGOs and let them assist your school to build and equip libraries. Educate and enlighten the students, not just on how to use the library as we were taught in school, but the treasure contained within the walls of these libraries. I remember when I was in the University, we were taught use of the library, how to find books, the referencing and all. That was in my first year. Yet, no one told me that a very large section of the library was devoted to novels, ancient and modern. My joy knew no bounds when I discovered this, but I was already in my third year and I felt deprived.
There are many ways we can help improve our own individual reading cultures and that of the younger generation. Honestly, once you venture into that world, nothing can change that. Hear Ibrahim Zen:
“I have recently become addicted to books and it is an addiction that I hope I never find a cure for”.
I leave you with those words while also asking you, when was the last time you started and finished a book or are you part of those Nigerians they say that one sure way to hide something from them is to put it in a book?