8 REASONS FOR THE DEARTH OF THE READING CULTURE IN NIGERIA
Culture is projected through the outfits worn, greetings/exchange of pleasantries, marriage ceremonies, births and death ceremonies, business transactions, religious inclination and other social and moral dispositions. Culture brings about easy identification and assimilation into a group, and also distinguishes one from another group.
Since culture embodies the way of life of a particular group, can we boldly say that the reading culture is an integral part of our every day life, especially in teens and youths? Do Nigerians place a high premium on it? Is the reading culture being imbibed by the young ones at an early age? Do Nigerians love reading books? Unfortunately the answers are all in the negative.
THE 8 REASONS
FOUNDATION PALAVER :
After basking in the euphoria of Independence on October 1st 1960, and the Republican status in 1963, our founding fathers began to channel their great minds to various sectors which they forecast would yield high economic returns for the country. Nigeria began to grow as he looked towards the politicians of the 1st republic to provide the nourishing economic milk formula that would aid in his healthy development. Coca in the West, Palm oil in the East, Groundnut pyramids in the North served as good alternative sources in the quest for fast development.
Education took its pride of place on the Government’s list as more schools were built. People were encouraged to get an education by going to school and those in that era can testify to the numerous books that did abound and how Nigerians love to read. However, the oil boom era of the 1970′s crippled the other economic sources as afore mentioned. The new found gold mine which would thrust the Nation into the International spotlight was immediately given priority over other sectors. Coupled with the political turmoil projected in various military coup d’etat, the wild cancerous spread of corruption, de-value of the Naira, riots, Biafran war, and other unpleasant situations in the history of the Nation contributed to the rapid decline in the reading of books.
2. ECONOMIC CRUNCH:
The river of economic crunch over flowed its banks and found its way into the pockets and bank accounts of Nigerians. Despite being blessed with abundant natural and human resources, Nigerians continue to wallow in poverty in the midst of plenty, having imbibed the principle of “suffering and smiling”. Over the years, the economy has walked on the declining path, with various items becoming a luxury rather than a necessity. It is sad to note that the common man under whose ambit majority of Nigerians fall feeds on less than $2 a day.
The common man has to pay Water, Electricity, Hospital bills, Rent, children’s school fees/professional fees requisite for career advancement, transportation fares, feeding, clothing and other foreseen and unforeseen expenses. The economic crunch has hindered parents from buying the recommended text books for their children, and other books on a wide range of subjects capable of broadening their knowledge scope. The cost of buying books is on the high side and the common man with the family needs to take care of , can’t be bothered with buying books. Most don’t purchase books, hence borrowing from friends who have same becomes a ready option.
3. FAZED AWAY PUBLIC LIBRARIES :
Public libraries back in the days did exist in some cities. The aim of establishing same was to encourage Nigerians to develop the reading habit through the provision of unlimited access to books on various topics. Unfortunately over the years, with the Government’s attention focused on other areas, the outdated books were not replaced with current editions, the library environment was no longer conducive for reading since the place was not well maintained, and other things began to compete for our time. People began to trickle into the libraries and before long it became a shadow of itself.
4.PARENTAL INDIFFERENCE :
Back in the days men worked while their wives stayed at home to take care of the kids. The men worked in the few private establishments and Government parastatals. The concept of Entrepreneurship was at its lowest ebb. The economic drought that pervaded homes caused the women folk to become career minded/entrepreneurs in a bid to strengthen the financial power of their husbands. In most cases, both parents work and often times return home late. The stress of the job prevents them from overseeing the child’s school work, and at best lesson teachers are hired to fill the education vacuum. Most parents do not make out time to ensure that their children are reading on a wider level, but it is ironical to note that these parents themselves lack the reading habit, so how can they instil the reading culture in their kids? Remember you can’t give what you don’t have!
5.STRONG CONTENDERS :
Over time, various spheres such as sports (especially football), music, movies have metamorphosed into Multi million naira industries, catapulting the once poverty stricken individuals into Millionaires and stars. Dancing, Stand up comedy have also joined the ‘financially up lifting band wagon’. A head way in any of these spheres is hinged on talent. Most consider reading to be a boring exercise, and lack the will, drive, patience, discipline, to sit at a spot and read. Nigerians are attracted to subject based colourful magazines loaded with pictures, (not that most take out time to read the contents), the pictures simply fascinate them.
Magazines relating to entertainment, fashion, football, real estate, weddings, life style of celebrities thrive in comparison to other related subjects. TV programmes with exciting line up of programmes(both local and foreign), radio stations giving massive airplay to various songs, UEFA champions league, English premiership league and other International football competitions, promenade music concerts, shows, events have relegated reading of books (literary and non-literary ) to the background.
6. LACK OF COMPETITIONS :
Competitive platforms have over time sprung up, though primarily hinged on discovering talented individuals within the designated spheres. TV programmes such as Young brains, Younger brains were produced to test the IQ of the contestants back in the days. Spelling B, Cow Bell mathematics competition, Close up essay competition, made students study hard and read widely so as to emerge victorious. However, competitions projected mainly through TV Reality shows leverages on discovering and harnessing the potentials of individuals(which do not require the reading platform) such as Gulder Ultimate Search, Star Quest, Football with Fash, Nokia First Chance, AMBO, Next Movie Star, The 12 Ambassadors, The Intern, Apprentice Africa, Big Brother Nigeria, Maltina Family Dance All, Project Fame West Africa. Competitions which require extensive research via reading is yet to be introduced.
7. LOW LEVEL OF RESEARCH IN SCHOOLS :
The “Garbage in Garbage out” principle operates unchecked within the four walls of various learning institutions. Pupils/ students are content to simply give back what the teachers have taught them during Tests and Exams. The Teachers do not insist on extensive research in answering questions given to students as Assignments, (after all most are not being well paid) and are not bothered about the quality of work turned in at the end of the day. The Tertiary Institutions are not exempted, with term papers hardly ever assigned to students, and even if they are, students do not welcome such with open arms. They also do not read widely and are content to read majorly the lecture notes and handouts when preparing for tests or exams. The word “Research” which is a key factor needed for stimulating people’s desire to read, unfortunately, can’t be easily found in the vocabulary maze of Nigerians.
8. THE INTERNET :
Nigerians generally surf the net to seek for information on various topics. It is sad to note that majority of them who engage in the net surfing exercise(youths), are interested in information pertaining to Entertainment, Fashion, Automobiles, Sports, Career/jobs, Universities, creating scammed e-mails, chatting with/meeting new friends especially on Yahoo Messenger, Face Book. Only an insignificant number embark on extensive research or log on to educative sites to increase their knowledge banks.
The youths are of the view that conducting research on the net is easier, faster and better than going through the stress of getting hard copies and reading same. Besides reading hard copies of books can be tiresome while one can still conduct research and at the same time freely site hop. However, one can’t compare the millions of books available on a wide range of subjects in hard copies to the ones on the internet.
Although a few people in some quarters have sounded the clarion call to revive the reading culture, many Nigerians are yet to obey the call. The zeal to read books has been consumed by the fire of mediocrity, ignorance, indifference, and low financial empowerment. The Reading culture can be revived “overtime” if certain machineries are put in place… what do you think?
So long… firstname.lastname@example.org