In what has become a Children’s Day tradition, the Governor of Rivers State Chibiuke Rotimi Ameachi, read to children at the State School Mgbuitanwo, in Emouha Local Government Area. The Governor, whose birthday falls on the same day as Children’s Day, read to the children from Gabriel Okara’s book ‘Little Snake and Little Frog’, which narrates the friendship between the little Snake and the Little Frog and how this is shattered by their parents’ revelations of its deceptive nature.
Mrs Koko Kalango, founder of the Rainbow Book Club, the organisers of the ‘Rivers State Reads’ campaign and, the anchor of the session asked the children what they thought of the story. The children, many not more than 10 years, were quick with their responses with several saying they learnt the importance of obeying their parents. Impressed by their confidence and boldness, the governor too shared his understanding of the story with them. He said it was a story about conflict and survival which was not necessarily a bad thing. He pointed out, for instance, that the snake needs to eat to survive just like the frog wouldn’t play with food if it were hungry. Mrs Kalango , who agreed with the Governor went on to give another interpretation saying that fear, as seen in the mother frog, instigates conflict while faith and love promote peace.
In a brief interactive session that followed the reading, the children once again amazed the governor and dignitaries present by their insightful questions; – ‘Did you ever dream of being a governor?’, ‘Do you like being a governor?’ ‘Why did you decide to celebrate your birthday with us?’ In his characteristic disarming way, Amaechi told the children that he decided to become Governor in 2002 because he felt he had something to contribute to the state. He added that though it was good to be a governor, there were also challenges, these he said included upgrading the infrastructure, overhauling the education and health sector, among others. He narrated to the children how he rose from a humble background to become governor and challenged the children to aspire to greater heights especially as his administration has created a conducive environment (the renovated schools) for them to learn in.
After the reading, the children treated the Governor to a wonderful reception in their assembly hall. There they sang and danced for him and also presented him with a birthday present. Governor Amaechi who appeared to thoroughly enjoy himself, thanked the children, the Rainbow book club and the Ministry of Education for the enriching experience.
The event concluded with the handover of over 300 bags of books donated to the children by the governor. The reading was also attended by the Hon. Commissioner Education Dame Alice Lawrence.