why don’t we read books? I keep asking myself that question every time. Why don’t we read books that are for pleasure, expand our minds, books that excite our imagination, books that teach us about other cultures? Why do we ignore books that expand our minds? I have been thinking a lot about books and the paucity of good books
You know, when you have a lot of things to do and you find you have not done one? You are so busy doing nothing. That has been my problem lately. I had a radio drama series which seemed to have swallowed me up whole. I have not had time to even think there are other parts of my literary life that need attention and my blog has suffered it most. I will stare for long moments longingly wishing I could just get my arse and do some writing ut I read another story on rape or hear one and I am off-putting that into a radio drama piece and asking my panelists to be on standby.
I do not intend to talk about rape today. Where am I?
Okay, I forget easily these days and that is another thing. This irritating habit of simply looking into the distance mid-conversation and not remembering what I want to say or write. Okay, blogging and my blog. Did I tell you about the problem I had getting my books back from those ’friends’ of mine?
Anyways, I don’t plan to give my books to bookshops anymore. Leastways not in my environment. One asked me to reduce the cover price to a fraction of the production cost so I could sell cheaply. He said books that are just meant to be read for its literary value don’t sell. He laughed at me, accepted that I could maybe write, but no one was going to buy my books for the prices I quoted.
There was hope in his eyes when he asked me if I had won any awards with any of the titles. Then the hope was replaced with pity as I mentioned that I wrote the series “I NEED TO KNOW”, he gave me a suspicious look. I could almost read his thoughts as he wondered if I had lost my marbles. I don’t look like a television writer to him, besides that was a popular series that spanned the whole country and beyond.
He had come to ask if he could sell my books for me in his own state and stared t me in horror when I told him how much it was going for. He patiently explained that I was not producing this for television and he was being helpful. There was a long pause then he brightened up and offered to take all four books for N600, that is less than $2:00. I screamed at him to get off my face and space.
He was miffed and told my friend I was going to be hungry for a long time. I was depressed. Told him he was a nightmare. I have been having such nightmares daily as I stare at my collection gathering dust.
Why don’t we read?
I wish I can have an answer.
That is the title of a book presented by a literary lion recently in Akure at the Federal university of Technology Akure. The book was written by Basorun Sehinde Arogbofa. A well attended event with first firebrand governor of Osun State Chief Bisi Akande as chairman of the book presentation
No, I am not reviewing the book. It has been reviewed already by a greater personage than me. I am using the title of the book to ask myself and by extension I guess my reader a few questions. You could call this piece a lamentation and musing
Many years ago as a wide eyed secondary school student, my teachers taught me to expand my mind. We were allowed to read books. Good books, interesting books, adventure books. They moulded our minds and fired our imaginations. I cannot list all those books here now. I remember reading Enid Blyton’s FAMOUS FIVE series gave me an adventurous spirit. In a subtle way, I learnt to be very observant of the human nature, it helped me in so many ways. To this day, I panic if I don’t have anything to read. Remember that saying about the idle mind and the devil’s workshop?
Then, the government had this idea to participate in the moulding of our minds, and for some reason, reading took a downward dive, we lost interest in reading to improve our minds but to pass exams and get certificates so we can get jobs. We became educated illiterates. I have been asking that question for years. Maybe I should have titled this piece THE MURDER OF THE REAL NIGERIAN WRITER. For one it will get your attention, but I wonder if it will hold your mind.
Sehinde Arogbofa might not roar enough to make us shiver, because his brand of activism in writing is that of the mouse and the cheese. He eats away at our sleeping conscience asking us with an annoying persistence why the writer must go hungry in our beloved country. This time he tells us about the path we have refused to take. It is the third of his conversation with Nigeria.
I attended his book presentation, watched the quality of people that came and made announcements about so many copies for so much money and I sighed. Knowing the author within the limits of my assessment, I suspected he was more interested in people reading what he had to say in the book.
Later, when we asked him where we were to purchase the books, he gave a wry smile, gave me one of those looks that spoke volumes and in his usual soft voice he asked me what chances the book had of being read. He made a quiet survey of those of us seated and asked the question, ‘do Nigerians read’? The silence that followed was more than an answer
Maybe really, I should have titled the piece, HOW NIGERIAN WRITERS ARE MURDERED by the indifference of its people. I am at a loss to answer, because like Sehinde Arogbofa said, it is not always the money, but the cry deep from the heart that we may hear a response. I see a picture of a blind plodding mass determined to make money and reading only money.
The Path Nigeria refused to take could easily be changed to The books Nigerians refused to read. Remember we were told, that knowledge broadens the mind, how do we broaden a mind that reads only texts, lives 24/7 on the social media, and has very little knowledge of the world around him, even his neighbours next door? Unless of course it would bring him filthy lucre?
I am a writer and watching the presentation of the book only increased my despair about the fate of the Nigerian writer.
To be continued