By Godwin Okondo
AS preparation towards Lagos hosting book clubs activities heats up following the city’s choice as National Book Clubs City 2023, the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Culture Promoters in Nigeria (NBRP) has lined up a tantalising awareness programme that will certainly get the entire city, including its leadership cadre at Alausa, Ikeja, and business community engaging in book activities. Tagged ‘Lagos Book Walk,’ the event will take place on April 25, 2023, and will start from Ikeja bus stop on Awolowo Way through to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s office at Alausa, Lagos’s seat of power.
According to the President of NBRP, “The Nigerian National Book Club City is an innovative idea inspired by the UNESCO World Book Capital, where a city is designated to host books and reading activities for a whole year among various communities and interest groups within the city to further entrench the gospel of book reading. For instance, Accra, Ghana is UNESCO World Book City 2023. The Book Club City and all its affiliates are innovative ideas of the parent body, Network of Book Clubs and Reading Culture Promoters in Nigeria (NBRP), the umbrella body that promotes the establishment of book clubs in communities to spread and deepen interest in book reading and the establishment and or renovation of community and public libraries in the 774 local government areas of Nigeria.
“Lagos as Book Club City 2023 will embark on sundry book reading-related activities to stimulate appetite in the pastime of reading among citizens with a conference and AGM, and a discussion on book activities that will involve all segments of society. ‘Lagos Book Walk’ is intended as a measure to garner support for the rich programming of Lagos Book Club City from sponsors, partners, and collaborators in the book ecosystem that include book and literary festival organisers, libraries, associations, schools, government, etc.”
For an effective and productive ‘Lagos Book Walk’ outcome, a ‘Lagos Book Stakeholders Charter of Demands’ will be presented to the Lagos State Governor and the Speaker of Lagos House of Assembly to bring the walk to successful end. The idea is to co-opt government more intensely into book matters and harvest greater input from those in power, so they see the need to invest more in education, particularly school libraries with relevant books which is believed by many to be grossly inadequate for students and others alike. The book situation has degenerated so much that many in the sector now call it ‘Book Famine’ in the land which they also say must be fought aggressively to avert a major national educational disaster.
“’Lagos Book Walk’ is a grassroots carnival-like programme designed to deepen awareness about books and reading,” said the Publicity Secretary of NBRP, adding, “To this end, members of the public, public-spirited individuals and corporate organisations are invited to support this worthy cause of keeping ignorance at bay and bringing enlightenment to the populace. Corporate bodies are especially encouraged to key into the 774 LG library project of NBRP and help to either establish or renovate/refurbish and stock a local library near them with books to improve reading standards and literacy levels in their local, host communities.”