June 14, 2024

Writers, publishers, librarians, students in memorable Lagos Book Walk 2

  • March 8, 2024
  • 7 min read
Writers, publishers, librarians, students in memorable Lagos Book Walk 2

By Godwin Okondo

IT was a day of fun-filled activities for writers, publishers, librarians, primary and secondary school pupils and students and many in the knowledge ecosystem when they held the second edition of Lagos Book Walk to sensitise awareness about the benefits of readings books, whether for pleasure or other beneficial purposes. By 7.30am members of the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria (NBRP), organisers of the walk, began to gather at the Falomo Roundabout in Ikoyi for the two-kilometre walk that would end at Freedom Park on 2 Broad Street, Lagos Island, Lagos. And by 8.30am the Lagos Book Walk 2 began, as a sizeable number of walkers had converged to mark the historic event.

An open van mounted with banners and music system and a lady DJ Amina Atinuke Salami behind the turntables began to blast some lovely Nigerian tunes to the ever moving vehicular and human traffic at Falomo Roundabout and through to Freedom Park. Men of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASMA) were on hand to ensure smooth traffic along the ever busy Awolowo Road to the final destination. Just before the start of the walk, Secretary of Nigerian Publishers Association Mr. Emmanuel Abimbola gave a two-minute pep talk on why the network of book clubs decided to embark on the walk in a country that has since lost touch with books. He reminded everyone that a lack of interest in books was what necessitated the walk, as a means of bringing awareness back to it, as was the case in years gone past. He noted that Nigeria was currently suffering all manners of maladies and in darkness because the country has abandoned the book in pursuit of things that hardly edify. Abombola sued for the country to return to books, as the only way out of both the political and economic darkness, saying, “a country that neglects books can only court backwardness and regress into the jungle, dire situations Nigerian currently finds herself!”

Then the walk train began earnest. First stop was at Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries (ZODML) on Awolowo Road, an NBRP partner organisation. It’s chief librarian Mr. Stephen Amunehi introduced the book walkers to the library, how it was founded in memory of Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue, a man, who, without resources or support as a youth, read himself out of illiteracy utilising local libraries around him and later made a name for himself through diligence and steely determination. Mr. Amunehi told his audience how ZODML was impacting lives of school pupils and students in various parts of the country with its many outreaches, including prisons where inmates are acquiring degrees utilising its resources. He therefore sued for more collaboration and commended NBRP for organising the Lagos Book Walk, saying it’s an important campaign tool for the book that should be sustained, and promised ZODML’s continuing support at all times. Amunehi also joined the book walkers to Freedom Park.

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School children at Freedom Park receiving the book walkers PHOTO: FOLUKE FALAYI

The next stop would have been Glendora bookshop, perhaps the oldest bookstore in Lagos that also houses Jazzvile, a record store, but its doors were firmly shut. President of NBRP Mr. Richard Mammah explained that repeated efforts to get its management on board the walk yielded no response. The walk then proceeded apace to Onikan House just across Yoruba Tennis Club and a stone throw from Yoruba History and Heritage Centre. Onikan House was built in 1948 by descendants of Afro-Brazilians and has since been repurposed to a museum and library that warehouses Lagos history from pre-, colonial and post-colonial times. Even the attic of the one-storey building has inviting book shelves and reading tables. Onikan House is an exciting house of history that those interested in Lagos’ history should visit. Political and historical figures like Henry Carr, Adeniyi Jones, Herbert Macualay, Eric Moore, Bode Thomas, etc that are routine street names in Lagos adorn the walls at Onikan House.

Onikan House was the last stop before the book walkers arrived their final destination – CORAVille Library and Resource Centre at Freedom Park. Already gathered were school children performing many stimulating educational tasks. At the newly inaugurated CORAVille library, CORA Chair, Mr. Jahman Anikulapo and Chairman, CORA Board of Trustees, Chief Kayode Aderinokun warmly received the book walkers to CORAVille Library and Resource Centre. CORA Secretary Mr. Toyin Akinosho later joined the party.

While addressing the book walkers on the steps of CORAVille Library and Resource Centre, Chief Aderinokun commended the walkers for their dedication and for toeing the right path in undertaking the arduous task of walk that long distance just to propagate a book and reading culture among Lagos populace, noting, “Book does not only educate you, it elevates you and, over and above everything, it’s the instrument for freedom.”

While addressing the children seated under the canopies where they had been having fun, NBRP president Mammah told them that they should not let anything stop them from being readers now, and thereafter life-long readers, because the evidence out there was that lifelong readers and life-long reading nations were more likely to be successful and continuing to abound in success, as the habit would help them continue to exponentially increase their value, capacity and potential in the marketplace and in the journey of life, adding, “So you should continue to read as long as you have breath.”

Deputy President (West) NPA, Mrs. Folashade Shinkaiye did not only enjoined the children to read but advised them to also start writing, so they could come too them to have their books published. A director at the Lagos office of National Library of Nigeria, Mrs. Obianuju Onuorah also encouraged the children only to read but to also develop their writing skills, and that after writing, they should come to the National Library to get International Standard Book Number (ISBN). She promised to give child authors at the event ISBN free of charge.

CORA Secretary, Mr. Akinosho called on schools around CORAVille that are on Lagos Island to make the most of the facility for their students, adding, “They (schools) can schedule their students to come use the library. There were libraries in Lagos while we were growing up, but not so any more. That’s the motivation for the CORAVille library. Schools should use CORAVille LR&C for their library period.

Vice Chair, Lagos State chapter of National Library Association, Mrs. Josephine Gasper, who represented the chairman Dr. Taiwo Ajayi, told the children, “Books blow your minds, take you where you’ve never been. Someone who does not read lives only one life, but someone who reads lives a thousand lives. Reading is the 21st currency. You can fly high: the sky cannot be limit. You can make Nigeria proud by reading and get Nigeria out of the current mess,” adding that the NLA collaborates with schools, organisations to make sure everyone reads.

The Executive Secretary of Nigeria Book Fair Trust, organisers of the yearly Nigeria International Book Fair, Mr. Abiodun Omotubi told the children, “You’re the future of Nigeria; but you have to read to be the leader of tomorrow. Ask your parents to get you a book on your birthday instead of cake. Cake finishes but book doesn’t. You can have your cake, but remember to ask for a book as well. Lagos Book Walk is a good project and I encourage NBRP to continue.”

Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Lagos Chapter Chairman, Mr. Ifeanyi Avajah also enjoined the youngsters to keep reading and stated that Modupeola Creative Writing Club was coordinating the maiden Eddie Aderinokun Writing contest and that prizes would be given to the winners.

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