The idea of a book, formed out of a story that made its way through several communities, is novel. How can it be explained? Students in Rivers State are writing a communal story on the festivals, geographical landmarks and other ‘sights and sounds’ specific to their own Local Government Area (LGA) as part of the Port Harcourt World Book Capital (PH WBC) 2014 ‘Walking Book’ programme. The involvement of children in all the 23 Rivers State LGAs is an idea that aligns strongly with the PH WBC 2014 project, whose key beneficiaries are youth. Moving through from one LGA to the next, each area will get its turn at having a chapter of the book to represent it.
Prior to the start of the Walking Book pilot phase, teachers from Community Secondary Schools in the 23 Rivers State LGAs were invited to a project briefing where the expectations of the Walking Book programme were outlined. Following that meeting, the schools submitted four topics of their choice, out of which two were selected. Writing is currently underway, with 10 students each from the selected schools penning down a story under the supervision of their English teachers. The entries are streaming in and will be edited and collated into a book that will be published. This forms the test phase of the main Walking Book programme which is set to involve students in all 36 states of Nigeria. Through this programme, the students’ creative writing skills will be enhanced and they will learn about and appreciate the different cultures around Rivers State and ultimately in Nigeria. The end result is the promotion of unity by breaking down cultural divides and inspiring collaboration, both of which are very important elements in the preparation for Nigeria’s centenary.