After three weeks, I’m finally nearing the end of The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. It’s an amusing and devastating story, and I can’t quite tell if it’s meant to be a comedy or a full-blown tragedy – then again, I do have a sinister sense of humour sometimes. Anyway, it’s reminded me of the power books have to mould the mind and influence decisions
[SPOILER ALERT] One of the children in the book decided to kill a madman whose prophecies had been tormenting his family. He read Things Fall Apart, in which Okonkwo wages war against the colonial white man, and somehow came to the conclusion that – like the white man – the lunatic prophet must die. He then drew out possible scenarios of the perfect murder because he read in a book that for a plan to come to fruition, it must be laid out mentally and on paper. He quite literally drew stick images of himself stoning and poisoning the madman. Reading sparks ideas and gets one thinking.
How about a less gory example of the influence of books? Years ago, I read that somewhere in the Middle East, women don’t shave or shape their eyebrows till their wedding day. I found this all intriguing so I’ve left my brows alone in their naturally bushy state until such a time as my wedding day, if it comes by. In the run up to my secondary school graduation dinner, I was tempted to shape it like all the other girls were doing, but I remembered the book and held my resolve. My face is the way it is all because of a book I don’t remember the name of.
Come to think of it, I am probably ‘unladylike’ because of a book too – Little Women. I admired Jo, who was tomboyish, revolutionary and a great writer. She made a divine heroine for a young girl to look up to.
Books are powerful, living, breathing entities that penetrate your mind and steer your destiny. There are so many more examples I could give but pick up a book and see for yourself!
P.S: Please don’t go round killing madmen.
I am on a mission to get Nigerians reading books again. If I can get just one person to fall in love with the written word, I would be ecstatic. Look out for blog posts with the tagline, #ALiteraryRevival, and spread the word!
Image|Source: The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma, Cassava Republic Press