Years ago, it was a South African writer, Alvin Masarira who opined; “the best way to hide something from the black people is to put it in a book”. Today, the statement is not only still valid but more pronounced. Reading has predominantly fallen off the priority of an average black man. While taking the case closer home, it becomes more crucial, an average Nigerian sees little or no reason to read. Less for examination or job interview, today’s generation doesn’t see reading as an important aspect of life.
Meanwhile, it is no longer news that one of the greatest challenges of this current age, militating against all-round development in this part of the world is the continuous dwindling reading culture among the general populace. The nature of the book notwithstanding, either hard copy or ebook, people these days generally find it difficult to open a book and read. This is however not limited to a particular class of people, status, age or creed.
The most bothersome part of it is that not only that people no longer read, our leaders do not also read. This is unlike other climes where leaders are readers. This gives the reason for the huge difference between the developed and the underdeveloped countries. This is because it is unequivocal that no nation can develop beyond its leadership. The situation is so low to the extent that some of our leaders recruit special aides to read daily newspapers and reveal what therein to them in the form of the executive summary.
More so, it is a universal truism that “you are what you read”, then what happens when you read nothing! An American journalist, Margaret Fuller once said; “today a reader, tomorrow a leader”, the summation here is that leaders must necessarily be familiar with the development in all areas of life. This could be done via reading!
It is said that amazing leaders worldwide have exceptional habits, where the chief of them is “reading”. These are great leaders who are also passionate readers. There have been a series of stories of how distinguished leaders from politics to business, entertainment as well as arts and science have become phenomenal through the act of reading and have consequently shaken their respective worlds positively.
From American billionaire, Bill Gate, whose father, Williams, described as a “voracious reader” from the age of 13, to Guy Kawasaki, the renowned Silicon Valley author, investor and businessman and to shorten the list, we come home to mention Obafemi Awolowo an advent reader who till date had unequalled achievement in Nigerian political administration.
Summarily, books can be best described as the greatest reservoir of history where knowledge is acquired and information is transferred from one generation to another and it’s significant to this present age can never be overemphasized.
It is a fact that a society that does little or nothing positively about her reading culture, especially that of her younger generation is on the highway to generational mental perdition.
On this note comes a cheery intervention from the wife of the Ekiti State Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi. A writer, policy advocate and feminist scholar who teamed up with a Nigerian multi-concepts firm, OpenWay Global Concepts on this year’s international world book day, April 23, to promote reading culture in Ekiti State and Nigeria at large.
Starting with a 2-kilometre reading awareness walk in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, organised by OpenWay and sponsored by Fayemi’s Above Whispers, an online community initiative, the walk saw youths in their good numbers led by Adesina Adetola, the CEO of OpenWay Global Concepts educating and sensitising the public about the importance and benefits of reading.
The climax of the day’s activities was the reading colloquium where Erelu Fayemi as the guest reader, made a special public reading from one of her books, Loud Whispers. It was an interactive session where the Ekiti First Lady advised Nigerian youths to develop a good reading habit for intellectual benefits.
She said; “sustainable growth and development could only be achieved through the adequate and continuous pursuit of knowledge.”
While lamenting the nonchalant attitude of the youths towards reading, Erelu said “the act has constituted a clog in the wheel of progress for Nigeria. It is unfortunate that our youths devote their time to frivolities rather than engaging in activities capable of sharpening their intellectual capacity.”
Speaking at the event which was attended by notable state government officials, academics, authors, book critics and advocates as well as hundreds of youths and students, the CEO of OpenWay Global Concepts, Adesina Adetola said; “the event is organised to promote the objective of the world book and copyright day, celebrated every April 23. It is a symbolic date for the world to pay tribute to books and the authors who wrote them.”
According to him, books are formidable tools for national development and agent of change, therefore, it is necessary to do everything possible to encourage literary works and promote its relevance in national development.
In upholding one of the main objectives of the day which is to contribute to the achievement of the sustainable development goal number four, that is; to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; Erelu Fayemi declared that the state administration will embark on improving on the public library for the advancement of quality education in the state. According to her, “this will also promote one of the main agendas of the administration which is the restoration of our core values.”