By Ada Anioji
This year’s edition of the Nigerian National Reading Week was marked from 18th- 23rd April 2016.
Sunbird African Media Limited, the publishers of The Difference Newspaper, has over time invested in making this an annual event and this has now come to fruition. Beginning in Oyo state (Ibadan) in 2013, the annual event now takes place in more than one state across the country every year.
In Lagos, the event was organised by The Difference in conjunction with the Centre for Research, Information Management and Media Development (CRIMMD). At the grand finale at the CRIMMD Free Reading Library, Idimu, Lagos, participants were thrilled with interesting readings from books like My Odyssey by Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Palm Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola and Freedom by Oluebube Sharon James. The interactive segment of the event was on the importance and benefit of reading and numerous benefits were enumerated by participants.
The moral of the event was clearly that the importance of having a reading society can never be over emphasized and indeed, Nigeria’s reading culture received a unique boost through the event.
Indeed, observers say that the establishment of the just-concluded ‘National Reading Week’ celebration is a most worthy addition to the nation’s book publishing firmament. Timed to coincide with the ‘World Book Day’ on Saturday, 23rd April, leading book publishers used their initiative to organize and host the event in their respective state capitals.
In Enugu, Delta Publications (Nigeria) Limited, the state’s coordinator, were favoured with the partnership of Monsieur Olivier Mouginot, Director of The Alliance Francaise, who made the state-of-the-art grounds of the French Cultural Centre available free of charge for the company’s 6-day celebrations of the reading week.
Kicking off with a generous cocktail party that drew in the Enugu elite, the well-organized reading activities were held daily from mid-day through to 6.00p.m., and saw impressive full-house daily attendance that cut across secondary and tertiary school pupils, writers, educationists, librarians and booksellers, who recorded brisk business at the book exhibition inside The Exhibition Hall.
In his Welcome Address, Mr. Dillibe Onyeama, CEO of Delta Publications (Nigeria) Limited, stressed on the exigency of the reading culture to prevent atrophy of the brain through lack of use, especially in the current depressed economy. “As our bodies are made of what we eat, so is our brains refined by what we read,” he said. “Desperation in the battle for survival has set in, and we all want to be on the fast lane at all costs. This is a major threat to the reading culture as a vital tool for education, information, imaginative flair, and creativity. We must keep reading for our very survival, both as a people and as a nation.”
12 authors, mostly published by Delta, riveted, shocked, amused and entertained from their novels, poetry collections and memoirs, each performance enlivened by questions-and-answers audience participation that also involved readings from seminarians from Bigard Memorial Seminary and pupils from the elite secondary school College of Immaculate Conception (CIC).
Indeed, the Enugu sessions of the National Reading Week activities turned out to be a huge success. As attested to by the coordinator, Mr.Dillibe Onyeama, through the event, the organisers had presented a platform through which the importance of cultivating the reading culture would be continually reflected on. And in line with this, participants were delighted with a vast array of literary offerings from the works of authors who had been assembled to read and perform.