Francis Bacon has retorted that reading maketh a man. It is obvious that the human person is the only being on earth endowed with the ability to read (homo liber), yet so many of us take this privilege for granted. According to Chizi Daniels (2012:38), man naturally has a drive to read. It is in our nature to read!
Reading is so part of the human person that no one can do it for the other. No one can read for you. Someone might explain it to you, but he will never replace the effect it would have had on you if had read it yourself.
Reading is the ability to interprete signs and symbols, and be able to relate with it. According to a famous latin maxim, legere est omnes scientia fundamentum – reading is the foundation to all knowledge. Reading provides one of the greatest avenues to the acquisition of knowledge. It lays bare everything that is knowable and accessible by reason, and gives man the ample opportunity to learn and unlearn. You can learn about a new culture, a particular skill, an art, a profession or anything else by reading.
We’re living in a world that is being controlled by information. Information they say, is power! In today’s world, everything is simply at our beck and call if we know how to properly utilise what we have. Just as Steve Harris once noted: “it is not what we don’t have that limits us, but what we have but don’t know how to use”. The internet has made it possible to access ‘anything’ on earth, only at the click of a button. You no longer need to meet the librarian and search for book catalogues before you can do an assignment. You don’t have to travel miles like Abraham Lincoln just to borrow a book to read! You will no longer have to bother yourself with the issue of not having sufficient money to purchase those expensive books, because the internet has simplified every bit of information to suit anyone. All you have to do is to ask ‘Google’ or ‘Wikipedia’.
Despite all these, the contemporary Nigerian youth still finds it diffult to read! He finds himself at sea whenever he sees books. The premium on knowledge value has been greatly diminished because there has been a ‘societal-shift’ from knowledge to ephemeral riches, pleasures and conveniences.
To us books are too expensive, yet we still spend a greater amount of our money buying clothes, cosmetics, phones, jewelries etc. We attach less importance to books and trivialize its import. This is one of the greatest problems facing our educational system – the problem of poor reading culture. Yours sincerely was shocked when he was told by an undergraduate that the book given to him by the former was the first book the later, in his second year, has ever finished in his entire life! It was totally bewildering and astonishing to hear. Suprisingly, it’s just one obvious example of the numerous cases of people around us who have never finished a single book in their entire lifetime.
We have grown to become too lazy to read. I dare to ask you: in your life, how many books (aside from ‘everyday’ novels) can you boast of, to have finished?
It is indeed true that the best way to hide something from the greater percentage of the public in Nigeria is to put it inside a book! I’m sorry, but it’s true: we don’t value books. We treat them with contempt and that’s one of the reasons why we’re where we are today! Who celebrates ever buying or reading a book in our society? The emphasis has shifted greatly to our detriment.
Isaac Newton said: “if I have seen far, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. One of the surest ways to ‘see far’ is by staying with great minds through reading. The great Chinua Achebe that we all revere today is no more, but he still lives in his books! How many will still ‘visit’ him and ‘chat’ with him?
The point is this: Readers will remain leaders forever! They’ll remain the pathfinders.
In our society today, it’s ‘awkward’ to see people discussing books or boasting of how many books they’ve read. What you hear is the leading football clubs, the memorable and exciting matches and the best and costliest players. We know the latest home videos including those just released last month. We know almost every famous musician and the reigning songs, and have even memorized their lyrics. Yet, we don’t know authors or the current books; even those in our subject areas. Oh! what a sad and obnoxious generation!
The average secondary school student who is a dullard and performs poorly in his results, can still chant some of P Square’s or Timaya’s songs without missing a line. What a pity! There’s a high level of misplacement of values in the society today. We now give more importance to the ‘irrelevant’ things and treat the important things with reckless reluctance!
Seeing the quality of graduates we mass-produce every year and the stemming rate of mediocrity in our private and public organisations, there is a great need for urgent re-orientation! Like I will always say: ”What makes you superior to the other person on the street is not your beauty, physique, dressing or your height; it is what you know, the other doesn’t know yet. It is what you do the other doesn’t do”. The world is gradually repositioning: it’s no longer enough to have good certificates, they must be backed up with sufficient knowledge and skills that can give you a place in the society. Ignorance is the highest mountain in any man’s life! What you don’t know yet is what you chose not to know!
The truth is that you can know so much if you can read and ‘unread’. Show me a man who can read without supervision, and I’ll give you a person who can know anything without limits. Forget about that certificate! What do you know and what can you do outside your certificate? Enough of all these fashion parade, it’s time to go for knowledge parade!
What’s your take on this issue? Do you think I’ve misjudged African youths on this matter? You can disagree with me with lucid and practical examples in the comment box below…
Yours truly motivational,
The Academic Coach.