Friends, Nigerians, countrymen, lend me your eyes – and minds as well.
Reading isn’t just for acadas (geeks), it isn’t a university lecturers’ or schoolteachers’ pastime, or something you do just to pass exams and get that certificate. All this would probably sound rather unconvincing coming from a geeky scientist. Nevertheless, I am on a mission to rekindle (was it ever alight?) Nigeria’s love for books.
There’s so much a book has to offer. People say, “A penny for your thoughts”, but with just a little more than that, you can have unrestricted access into the inner workings of another human being. Do not underestimate the privilege of delving into another person’s imagination. By picking up the pen, writers expose themselves naked and bare for the world to see.
You can tell a lot about a person from the way they write. You can tell when they are depressed or contemplating the meaning of life as with Dostoyevsky; when they are angry and frustrated like Chinua Achebe; when they feel death approaching as with Ken Saro-Wiwa. I was introduced to the poet and activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, in JSS2 (Year 8) and till this day I find myself reciting Voices in moments of melancholy.
I didn’t leave Nigeria when I was thirteen. No, I left three years before that when I picked up my father’s The Mayor of Casterbridge. Since then, I’ve had a love affair with Shakespeare, sat at Dickens’ feet and developed an eternal friendship with Jane Austen. You see, reading roused my imagination, it got me thinking.
I have been to South America, the Caribbean, Russia, the Galápagos Islands, Narnia, Middle-earth, Wonderland. I have sat on the hydrogen bonds the make the double helix of DNA, I have run through the war-torn cities of the Afghanistan, and felt the thirsty heat of the Sahara. I have travelled everywhere through the generosity of people who dared to sit, write and share their worlds and innermost thoughts – including the ones they have when they’re high, as I believe Lewis Carroll was when he wrote Alice in Wonderland.
Nigerians, you have no idea what you’re missing, the priceless luxury of picking up a good book – a work of art – that a human being has poured their life and soul into.
My people, go beyond your world! Read!
[To be continued – British People Made Me Love Nigerian Books]
Image| Check out my tattered ‘Arrow of God’ LOL