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|Today's Youths' Attitude Towards Reading by zayhal(f): 8:39am On May 02, 2013|
Rather hang than read a book?
Category: Monday column Published on Monday, 15 April 2013 17:01 Written by Mahmud JegaSharI was intrigued by the story last week that a 13 year old Nigerian boy committed suicide in Ibadan rather than sit down to read his books.
Oyo State Police Command spokesman DSP Olabisi Clet-Ilobanafor said the boy hanged himself at 6.15 p.m. on March 31 because his father’s friend told him to go and read his books. Now, I know that reading books is out of fashion in today’s Nigeria, but I never imagined that death is preferable to reading a book. It is bad enough that today, uncles must goad pupils and students to sit in corridors and read books. Thirty years ago, as youngsters in this same country, we had no alternative but to read books and novels because we didn’t have video machines, CDs, cable television, internet, blackberries or social networking sites.
Primary school teachers pushed us to read some of our earliest vernacular books such as Ka Koyi Karatu, Ka Kara Karatu, Kayi Ta Karatu and Karamin Sani Kukumi Ne. But once we learnt the art, we mostly took off on our own. No teacher or uncle told me to read 3 volumes of Magana Jari Ce, Labarun Da Dana Yanzu, Ruwan Bagaja, Gandoki, Umar Mukhtar, Mungo Park Mabudin Kwara, Tafiya Mabudin Ilmi, Tarihin Annabi, Uwar Gulma, Jatau Na Kyallu, Iliya Dan Maikarfi, Yawon Duniyar Haji Baba, Sauna Jac, Jagoran Mai Sallah and Ibada da Hukunci.
I started reading newspapers in primary school without any teacher’s prompting. Every afternoon, I sat in the driveway and waited for my father to come home because he always brought with him New Nigerian, Daily Times, Sketch, Tribune, Observer, Chronicle, Herald, Standard and Lagos Weekend. I read them and then cut out the pictures of governors and commissioners, which I pasted onto a notebook. As a result, I knew every Federal and almost every state commissioner in Nigeria during the Gowon era. This served me well in 1997 when our managing director at New Nigerian Newspapers, Prof Abubakar Rasheed, called me and said Chief Sunday Awoniyi phoned to say that an important Nigerian, Chief Gilbert Obatoyinbo, had just died. I said, “The former SMG of Kwara State?” The MD said, “How did you know him?” I said, “I cut his picture from Nigerian Herald in 1974.”
Right from primary school I was reading magazines such as Drum, Spear, Topic, Dialogue, Time, Newsweek, London Weekend, Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, China Pictorial, Soviet Military Review, Woman’s Own and later West Africa and Africa. Every Friday, without any uncle’s prompting, I went to Sokoto’s Yardole market to buy cartoon magazines [comics as we called them] such as Lance Spearman, Sadness and Joy, Fearless Fang, Boom, Jane, Bobo Bunny, June and Football. These served me well during a visit to the US in 1994 when my host’s talkative son began telling a story about the Royal Air Force’s fighter plane of World War Two, the Spitfire. I asked him about Spitfire’s German rival, but he didn’t know. It was the Messerschmitt; I read about the planes’ rivalry in a comic book in 1971.
In secondary school we read James Hadley Chase titles without any prompting. I didn’t read all of them, only 40, including The Vulture is a Patient Bird, You Never Know With Women, The Things Men Do, Tiger By The Tail, A Lotus for Miss Quon and The Way the Cookie Crumbles. From Chase we learnt about description, clever crime plotting, painstaking police investigation and American ghetto slang. We also learnt about some problems many decades before they arrived here, such as the problem of parking space. I read only a few Nick Carter and Denise Robbins novels but in order to know how things work I read Arthur Hailey’s books The Final Diagnosis, In High Places, Overload, Hotel, Airport, Wheels and The Money Changers without an uncle’s goading. From Frederick Forsyth I read only Day of the Jackal, Dogs of War and Devil’s Alternative, but my brothers and I bought and read dozens of other novels and books including The R Document, Papillon, Jaws, Best and Brightest, The Powers That Be, The Fifth Horseman, Red Star Over China and Shall We Tell the President?
Without anyone’s prompting, I studied the map of the world until I knew every country, island, lake, big river or inland sea. This served me well in 1976 when NTA Sokoto started a weekly quiz program ran by the late Sa’adu Haruna Gobir. One of his favourite questions was, “Name all the countries that share a border with such-and-such country.” I kept winning the N30 cash prize for weeks on end. One day, some young boys accosted me in a park and alleged that Sa’adu Haruna leaked the quiz questions to me, so I asked them to name any country they wanted. One said “India” so I said, “Arabian Sea, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Bangladesh, Burma and Indian Ocean.” The boy ran to his house to check an atlas. He never came back.
As a science student no one told me to read African Writers Series but I read at least 30 of them. As we grew older, we abandoned novels and turned to biographies of great people. No uncle goaded me to read Sardauna’s My Life, Azikiwe’s My Odyssey, Awolowo’s Awo or the biographies of Aminu Kano, Kwame Nkrumah, Amilcar Cabral, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Franklin Roosevelt, Iosif Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Charles DeGaulle, Francisco Franco, Josif Broz Tito, Indira Gandhi, Malcolm X, Mao Zedong, Benito Mussolini, Chiang Kai-shek, Nelson Mandela, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, the Shah, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, Lord Montgomery, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Al Capone, Howard Hughes, McGeorge Bundy and William Averell Harriman. In just one book, Sinews of American Capitalism, I read the stories of John Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, John Pierpont Morgan and Andrew Mellon.
I wasn’t goaded by an uncle either to read many books about the Nigerian Civil War, including John de St. Jorre’s The Nigerian Civil War, Eddie Iroh’s 48 Guns for the General, Toads of War and Siren in the Night; Alexander Madiebo’s Biafran Revolution and Nigerian Civil War, Elechi Amadi’s Sunset in Biafra, Bernard Odogwu’s No Place to Hide, Chukwuemeka Ike’s Sunset At Dawn, Nelson Ottah’s Rebels Against Rebels, Obasanjo’s My Command and many smaller books. Without prompting I took to reading books about the Second World War, such as A Bridge Too Far, Auschwitz, the hunt for Martin Bormann, books about Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Himmler, and books about German Field Marshals Erwin Rommel, Franz Halder, Gerd von Rundstedt and Freidrich Paulus. I then read General Sergei Shtemenko’s Soviet General Staff at War and the two volume Memoirs of Marshal Georgi Zhukov, followed by books on Soviet Marshals Semyon Timoshenko, Kliment Voroshilov and Konstantin Rukossovsky.
Two of the three fattest books I ever read, without goading, were on the Second World War, namely William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich [which I read many times] and David Bergamini’s Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy, which I read repeatedly. The third fat book was Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy. Following from the first two, I read smaller books about Battle of Britain, Operation Barbarossa, Battle of Stalingrad, Operation Overlord, Battle of the Bulge, Pearl Harbour and the naval battles of Midway, Coral Sea, Corregidor and Wake Island. No uncle ordered me to read them.
When I developed an interest in the Watergate scandal, without any uncle’s prompting I read The Final Days and All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward; G. Gordon Liddy’s Will; John Dean’s Blind Ambition; John Ehrlichman’s Witness to Power; Henry Kissinger’s White House Years and Years of Crises; Richard Nixon’s Memoirs as well as many smaller books. Let me not mention here all the books and pamphlets by Karl Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao that we read as young Communists. I haven’t mentioned any compulsory school textbooks either. So, today’s youngsters, please learn to read one book a week. It is more worthwhile than hanging by the neck.
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|Re: Today's Youths' Attitude Towards Reading by barakah(m): 8:23am On Sep 30, 2017|
You've got mail Ma.
Waiting for your urgent response.
|Re: Today's Youths' Attitude Towards Reading by zayhal(f): 9:09am On Sep 30, 2017|
|Re: Today's Youths' Attitude Towards Reading by barakah(m): 11:23pm On Sep 30, 2017|
We need to talk.
Mybad! I guess you remember Mushin days, Bimbo and the fact that i missed becoming your Inlaw by the whiskers.
I don't have your number again, wonder why/how i ever lost it.
|Re: Today's Youths' Attitude Towards Reading by zayhal(f): 2:43pm On Oct 02, 2017|
Oh yes I do!
|Re: Today's Youths' Attitude Towards Reading by barakah(m): 2:50pm On Oct 05, 2017|
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