Books are a distraction. You should focus on your studies #ALiteraryRevival

Books and studies are two different entities in Nigeria. Studies are generally what your teacher hands you – with a cane in the other hand –  that you have to memorise in order to pass exams. Like television, computer games and the internet, books are distractions that pull you away from the most important thing you need to do as a child – bleed your way to a school certificate. While studies do not require you to think but just remember, books open doors you never knew existed to dreams and imaginations, much to the bane of many parents. Too much thinking in children translates to stubbornness.

Teachers don’t read, so we are taught outdated information. They don’t read, so they can’t accommodate the child who does. They don’t understand the child that answers questions differently, outside of the set formula of parroting whatever you are taught, so such a student gets punished or downgraded for their thoughts. Parents don’t read, so they have no idea how to answer or respond their offspring’s numerous questions. They don’t read, so they kill their children’s natural curiosity with their blunt, impatient responses. Thus, children don’t read, so they struggle with critical thinking and reasoning beyond what they can see around them.

You see the lack of thinking in government. Politicians went to school but they never cultivated their minds. Their charisma and coldblooded greed lifted them to the top but their infertile, dry, barren minds stem them from doing anything useful for Nigeria. Even on the few occasions that they do try, their plans expose a lack reasoning. Reading doesn’t just supply facts, it gets the wheels of dusty cobwebbed minds turning.

Encourage children to read. Buy them Enid Blyton and C.S. Lewis books, Tintin, and Supa Strikas. Let them read and begin to write their own stories, form their own ideas and make their own discoveries.

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!

Shaving Eyebrows and Killing the Madman

9 Nonsenses Keeping People From Reading

Do Blogs Count As Reading?

I will marry you if you promise not to make me eat eggplant

British People Made Me Love Nigerian Books

Reading Isn’t Just for Academics

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Shaving Eyebrows and Killing the Madman #ALiteraryRevival

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!

9 Nonsenses Keeping People From Reading

Do Blogs Count As Reading?

I will marry you if you promise not to make me eat eggplant

British People Made Me Love Nigerian Books

Reading Isn’t Just for Academics

Image|Source: The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma, Cassava Republic Press

 

9 Nonsenses Keeping People From Reading #ALiteraryRevival

Please find the nonsenses in grey and my replies in black.

  1. Reading is for geeks and geekiness is uncool” Ignorance is also uncool.
  1. Books are too long” Like humans, they come in all shapes and sizes. If short ones turn you on, you are sure to find plenty of them around.

Continue reading “9 Nonsenses Keeping People From Reading #ALiteraryRevival”

Do Blogs Count As Reading? #ALiteraryRevival

I read a lot of blogs. Surely, I don’t need #ALiteraryRevival.  I sense some people are thinking this, and it’s a fair point.

I find that blogs are comparable to newspapers. They do make good reads and tell you what’s happening now in someone’s mind as in the online diaries that are blogs and in the world (it is always a mess; I don’t know why journalists bother) as in papers or news websites.

Nevertheless, like with newspapers, one can’t put books and blogs on the same level.   Books are well thought out, ultimate expressions of a person’s reasoning. They tend to be more in-depth and critical on a particular subject or story and are more artistic, showing off greater literary prowess.

Blogs are simply quick bites that only touch the surface like a meat pie; but books are the whole package- hot jollof rice, grilled chicken, plantain, and salad with chilled Coca-Cola. Really good books by marvellous writers even add in hot puff-puff straight from the fire.

Hungry yet?  Pick up a book today and feed yourself.

 

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!

I will marry you if you promise not to make me eat eggplant

British People Made Me Love Nigerian Books

Reading Isn’t Just for Academics

I will marry you if you promise not to make me eat eggplant #ALiteraryRevival

Have you ever wondered why some friends are more interesting on social media than in real life?  They may be trying to say or express exactly the same thing but it sounds a lot more interesting and funnier when they text it on Whatsapp or tweet it than a face-to-face conversation?  Well, the same goes for books and films

Written words convey something motion picture never can.  They possess the unmatchable gift of being able to create a picture in a person’s mind without having to physically paint it for them.  This makes the experience unique to each reader though they are reading the same book.  Books stir up your thinking, opening your mind’s eye to see beyond your known world.

Try as actors might, they will never be able to harness the emotions, the complex twists and bends of the human character the way a writer can.  Take Half of a Yellow Sun, for example.  Though Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton give great performances, the movie falls drastically short of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s brilliantly candid depiction of the love, hurt and the brutality of the Biafran War.

I watched Love in the Time of Cholera before I read it – and I deeply regret not finding the book first.  It’s a great film but the book is so much richer.  The thing about films is that they give 90-minute or so summaries of stories.  How can someone possibly do justice to human emotions in one and a half hours?  Surely, you’d have to tear out so much from the plot.  Even the iconic scenes and quotes from the book that made it to the big screen don’t feel the same.  “Very well, I will marry you if you promise not to make me eat eggplant” is a lot more hilarious and feeling when read.  Seriously now, try saying it out loud. You see? It’s not as magical.

I love films but they can never match the superiority of books.  Don’t just watch it, read it.

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!

British People Made Me Love Nigerian Books

Reading Isn’t Just for Academics

#ALiteraryRevival: British People Made Me Love Nigerian Books

I didn’t start reading Nigerian authors for fun until my Year 10 English teacher came to class one day with copies of A Man of the People.  I was pleasantly surprised that Nigerians could actually write.  Before then I somehow believed that the only one who could do anything was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Can you imagine? I had to go to a foreign land to discover that our books are interesting.  Back home, I forced myself to read Nigerian books for school.  They were generally tragically-written novellas that make one wonder how they made it into the secondary school syllabus.

It was in the UK that I properly shook hands with my comrades and took an interest in their work; it was then I finally read the masterpiece, Things Fall Apart.  I met people who could sit for hours and discuss Nigerian literature and art.  And I would sit down and watch these British people talk with much fascination, making me fall in love with my country.  I am still being introduced to Nigerian books and I am loving every single bit of what I discover.

I’ve never known a bookshop to last long in Lagos, except they sell mostly textbooks or Christian books that tell you how to get rich.  This week I went all the way to Surulere from the Island just to find The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma because all the bookshops I once knew have closed down.  This isn’t due to the eBook revolution, as is the case elsewhere, Nigerians have simply lost their interest in good books.  And this shows in the way we talk, think and live.

I remember being enraged at the pictures of President Goodluck Jonathan at Chinua Achebe’s funeral.  If he had read the books, he would have been too ashamed to send his condolences, talk less of showing up at the burial.

We have great authors in Nigeria but we leave it to Westerners to sing their praises.  We only discover and acknowledge them when foreigners point them out to us.  Even then, we just speak of them with pride but don’t actually read their work.

We are undervaluing ourselves and leaving the West to celebrate and exploit our literary talents.

#ALiteraryRevival: Reading Isn’t Just for Academics

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