Get Nigeria Reading Again 2012 With Oby Ezekwesili

Rainbow Book Club, the nation’s flag bearer for resuscitating a reading culture, scored another point at the ‘Get Nigeria Reading again!’ 2012 campaign to mark the Day of the African Child. Alakoto Senior High School in the suburbs of Ajegunle was the venue for the congress of over 150 Junior and Secondary School students from 13 schools who participated in the reading. The message of ensuring a good education by  developing a reading habit set the tone for the day and the children were thrilled to have one-time Minister for education and former World Bank Vice-President Dr. (Mrs.) Oby Ezekwesili read to them from The Missing Clock by Mai Nasara, winner of the NLNG-sponsored Nigeria Prize for Literature.

The principal of the school, Mr. Titoni Ikhigbo, said in his address that he believed that the mindset ‘can anything good come out of Nazareth (Ajegunle, the jungle city)?’ was put to rest with the visit of Ezekwesili, who herself attended a family-owned primary school in Ajegunle. House of Poetry engaged the students and special guests to a soul-stirring drama performance of ‘Ajegunle Cannot Cry’‘, written by Daggar Tolar, coordinator of the programme and chairman, Association of Nigerian Author, Lagos. One of the children also performed a rousing dance to Olori Oko. Koko Kalango, founder of the Rainbow Book Club, was the moderator of the reading. With a synopsis of the award-winning book, the ambience for the reading was further heightened.

Pupils relished the moment as they listened with rapt attention to Dr. Ezekwesili share the story of her meteoric rise to fame. Drawing a moral from a line in the story: ‘though you start with little, you end with much‘, she enjoined the students to cultivate a habit of reading at an early stage. ‘‘I went to primary school here in Ajegunle,” she said. “I really need you to know that you can be anything you aspire to be in this life. I want you to imagine that even though you are here today, you can rule the world. Develop a strong appetite for reading. When you read, you become superior mentally to your old self. When you read, you prepare yourself to become a success. You must plant something by reading.’’

Samson Idoko, a senior secondary school pupil of the school stole the day with his attention-grabbing question that got Ezekwesili astonished as she rose to her feet in utter amazement. Harping on reading as the common denominator for a successful life, she responded heartily to every round of questions. She asked the students to take a cue from Banji, the central character in the story, who brought wealth and fame to his parents by an idea he got from planting. The students were told that through reading ideas are planted that will help them contribute towards nation-building. She called on all present to eschew corruption, become diligent and embrace hard work. In her words, ‘the best investment for you is to get the best education possible. Girl-child education is vital to the building and development of the society. A literate woman makes the best choices for her children.’’

{gallery width=170 height=110}GNRA/Gallery_12{/gallery}No doubt the visit of Ezekwesili, a longtime mentee of Koko Kalango and a professional activist in nation-building to the slums of Ajegunle, made a big impression on the students and the entire community. Skye bank representative Mr. Lekan Faleye donated books to the students on behalf of the bank and joined the ex-minister in presenting the bags of books to the students. Every child at the reading will have a lasting memory of her visit as they had photo sessions in swift successions. Her exit from the staff-and-student crowded classroom was received with a rapturous standing ovation. Media experts were present to cover the event.

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