Former ambassador of Nigeria to the Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway), Godknows Igali, has raised concerns that Nigeria is gradually losing its reading culture to modernism. The ambassador stated this in Abuja at a reading colloquium appraising the aesthetics of a reading culture in Nigeria. A reading culture is an environment where reading is championed, valued, respected, and encouraged. This used to be the Nigeria of some decades ago, where avid readers – especially those who could prove so with their grasp of abstract and trending socio-political issues – were given accolades. Now, it seems to be a thing of the past.
Igali explained that reading is beyond relating with ideas written with ink on paper. He added that man has always read before the evolution of technology. He noted that the whole idea of reading has been in existence from the beginning of history. In his words, “I disagree with those who believe that reading is only when you put ideas on ink and paper. Man has always read but now gradually reading culture has been taken over by modern society.”
Sub-Saharan Africans do not read as much as they should.
While explaining that most people in sub-Saharan Africa do not read as much as they ought to, he said that some societies are also losing the culture of reading. In Nigeria, this seems to have affected the kind of television shows and popular trends. Before, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire was a household name. All and sundry were interested in watching the show hosted by the prolific Frank Edoho. This was not only because it was interesting but also because the viewers aspired to the intellectuals who defied all odds to showcase their knowledge on TV.
Also, there was Guilder’s Ultimate Search, Cowbellpedia, and other pro-educational shows that dominated the Nigerian radio and TV waves in the past. Parents simply pointed this out to their children to these brilliant young people on these shows to emulate. However, it seems that as Nigerians were exposed to more technology, the culture built around reading and intellect was gradually being dismantled. Now, the people have pivoted to watching content on social media or keeping up with reality TV shows. The slang expressions spreading on the internet are a testament to the fact that the trends have changed.
Author’s book shows the consequences of the Warri crisis.
On her part, the author of the book and organizer of the program, a Bayelsa-based lawyer, Theresa Ebi Tobuyei, said that the work is a summary of the devastating effect of the years of ethnic crisis that rocked Warri in Delta State for several years ending in 2003. She said that Warri witnessed a crisis between 1997 to 2003, which resulted in a great number of casualties. As a result, it attracted the attention of international peacekeeping and human rights bodies from around the globe.
According to her, the book titled “GASP” was written to bring out the devastating effects of the crisis and the lasting horrible memories it had on the lives of the victims and other people who witnessed it. “It was in a bid to appraise the negative consequences of the violence in the light of the active and passive conflict still plaguing the Nigerian State, Africa and the World, that I wrote GASP,” she said. The literary piece focuses on the consequences and the psychological issues that arose from the scars inflicted on the people, especially marginalized groups such as children, young people, and women, in times of crisis, wars, and armed conflicts around the world.
GASP tells the story of some fictional girls who witnessed the crisis.
She further explained that GASP is a fictional tale about some girls who physically witnessed the brutality of the Warri crisis, with each of them losing a principal member of their family. The story captures how these characters were separated by the circumstances of life, displaying how each of them navigated their way through life whilst nursing the scars the crisis left behind. The book also considered other societal vices like electoral violence, domestic violence, bullying, sexual assault, child abandonment, and the like, as well as displaying the travails and triumphs of her characters.