An Afro-Australian author, novelist and playwright, Mr. Wole Akosile has stressed the need for schools in the country to ensure that book reading through library time and the formation of book clubs become part of their culture.
He said the books should span across genre, philosophies, religions and history, adding that the move will improve literacy, foster the reading culture, as well as create a tolerant and empowered generation with strong critical thinking and social consciousness.
Akosile, the author of ‘The Gods of Women Have Gone Mad’, said he believes the reading culture should start from the home. “It starts in childhood. For instance, parents reading bedtime stories to children, parents setting manageable targets for their children to read a book a month that will be 12 in a year.
“However, access to books is also a concern, but in the digital age and with wide internet coverage in Nigeria, families have access to books through online book stores such as Okada or Amazon.”
He expressed concern over the reduced interest in reading books among Nigerians due to social media, saying, “it is not a problem unique to just Nigerian youths, it is a global concern. David Toscana in his opinion piece, ‘The Country that Stopped Reading’, in the New York Times, discussed similar problems in Mexico.
“Social media feed into our desire for instant gratification, primarily we are all wired to be driven by pleasure and the allure for ‘likes’ or ‘views’ when we post or blog is so gripping, it is a primal drive. The constant desire for such quick sensation (which we are all guilty of) is unlikely going to allow us to think critically, reflect deeply or spend time to read and research because by design the creators of social media want us to be on their platforms all the time.”
Akosile explained that reading a book educates, challenges, changes and liberates one, adding that people who don’t read widely will be devoid of critical reasoning, disempowered and ultimately be at the mercy of parochial leaders and rapacious outsiders.
He stressed the importance of the country having a book festival, which he described as a gathering of its best literary minds and an opportunity to bring great minds and writers from around the world who can “help re-think our history and how it will help shape our today.
“It has other advantages such as helping to foster the reading culture in young people in our society; it helps identify and launch local writing talents; it is also very good for the economy and the publishing industry.”
On his book, the author said it describes how tradition and cultural beliefs perpetrate the unsafe practices of female genital mutilation (FGM) and deals with broader themes on teenage marriage and the rights of women.
“It also explores the important role women play in patriarchal societies in bringing about social change. The story has a broad-based appeal. People of different ages and of different nationalities and races will find it interesting and enlightening. This book adds impetus to the fight against FGM and brings a much-needed focus to this unhealthy practice,” Akosile said.