By Patrick Odimnfe
ARMEd with his motorbike, helmet, camera, and a collection of books, Beninoise Library officer with Goethe Institut-Nigeria, Georges Gambadatoun, yesterday, August 2, 2023, took off on an awe-inspiring expedition, which he aptly calls the Reading Ride. Gambadatoun’s mission is to make a positive impact across six countries and 16 towns in West Africa, and it is driven by the objectives of entertaining, educating, and empowering the region’s youth while promoting literature, photography, and sustainable development. At the heart of the Reading Ride initiative lies the primary goal of bringing joy and knowledge to children and teenagers through captivating book readings. By showcasing the works of talented writers from Africa and its diaspora, the road trip endeavors to instil a love for reading, nurture a sense of cultural pride, and foster literacy within the region.
Beyond promoting literature, the road trip places a strong emphasis on youth empowerment. With mobile photography training sessions and insightful talks on artificial intelligence (AI), Gambadatoun seeks to equip young individuals with essential digital skills. Through this training, the youth are empowered to capture the beauty of their surroundings, encourage creative expression and charting potential career paths in the ever-evolving digital landscape.
Georges Gambadatoun set for the Reading Ride initiative
Gambadatoun also said his Reading Ride also “recognizes the significance of educating the participants about critical global issues, as he will ensure throughout the journey that “the youth are well-versed in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the ECOWAS 2050 agenda. By spreading awareness and fostering understanding of these essential objectives, the project inspires action and cultivates a sense of responsibility among the youth by encouraging them to contribute to a sustainable and prosperous future.”
As part of the project’s lasting legacy, Gambadatoun aims to create a small collection of books from West Africa, which will find its home at the ECOWAS office in the Benin Republic, adding that this endeavour not only promotes the richness of West African literature but also fosters cultural exchange within the region, strengthening its sense of unity. Gambadatoun is keen for the road trip’s outcomes not to be limited to words alone, “as it aims to produce a comprehensive database of pictures and photographs taken during the journey. Through these visual records of experiences, landscapes, and encounters, the project seeks to preserve memories and serve as a source of inspiration for future endeavours.
Georges Gambadatoun (right) and his fellow Reading Ride advenurer and photographer, Tope Asokere
“Furthermore, Reading Ride introduces the participants to mobile photography techniques among participants by encouraging them to build their portfolios. This skill development not only serves as a creative outlet but also opens doors to potential careers in photography and digital media, empowering the youth with practical skills for the modern world. Friends who believe in this initiative have made great commitments so far. A video and photo diary will be created by Tope Asokere and posted on https://iwaria.com/, while written documentation will be provided by Patrick Odimnfe. Other friends have contributed books and funds.”
Gambadatoun’s vision for the Reading Ride “transcends a simple road trip; it is meant to be a transformative journey with multifaceted objectives. By combining entertainment, education, and empowerment, the initiative aspires to leave a lasting impact on the youth of West Africa through promoting regional literature, arts, and sustainable development. This unforgettable journey will foster unity and cultural understanding across the region while inspiring the next generation to dream big and embrace change as they embark on their own paths of discovery and growth.”