My Warri Chronicles 8. The Library

 

 

My favourite place in all of Warri was the local library. It was situated on Swamp road, at one end of the GRA. It was just a short stroll from my school to the library. The day I discovered that little building, my life changed forever!

I was always a bookworm, and though we had quite a rich library at home, it was never enough. I read anything that was written on a piece of paper, even the ones I did not understand.

One day, during the “Long break”, usually about 30-45 minutes, a friend told me the library was just around the corner; and off we went. As I went through those hallowed doors, I thought I had entered Heaven! How could so many books be in the same place, all waiting for me to devour? I wanted to borrow ten books at once, but the librarian, a stern-looking buxom lady, would have none of it. She said I could borrow one book and read for a week, and if I finished it then she would allow me to borrow two books per week from the children’s section.

Me? One book per week? Okay na.

I filled the form/card and was issued a temporary library card. And I went home with one book. The following day at break time I was back in the library with the book in hand. And the librarian was mad! She said she knew we were not serious! I had returned the book without even attempting to read it, bla bla bla bla..ad infinitum!

I was a very quiet girl, so I politely waited for her to finish pouring the verbal venom on me. When she finally ran out of steam, I told her I had read the book and could tell her the entire story if she wanted. Of course, she did not believe me. So I told her the story, almost word for word. She went quiet, and looked at me ‘one kind.’ Then she let me borrow another book, slightly bigger. And I returned it the next day.

After that, the library became my personal space during the break, and that lady became one of my favourite human beings. Soon she was letting me go home with five books at weekends. And on Mondays, I would return them and we would discuss books like two equals.

It was in that space, I discovered Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, and so many wonderful writers that helped to shape my brain and probably, that was when the secret desire to be a writer began. I’m not too sure, but it did contribute a lot to my all-time love for books and libraries.

 

Yes, my Warri was not all rough edges; we had the panache that exists only in bookish towns.

That was my Warri. And we will bring it all back again. Soon.

#MyWarriChronicles #Warri #HomeTowns #WarriNoDeyCarryLast #BornTWriteWell #ElsieWrite

 

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GENERATION NEXT3: THE LITERACY QUESTION

“When a university graduate is unable to string two sentences together in English language who do you blame? The graduate, his teachers or the institution awarding the certificate?”

Someone sent me a video a few days back. It was a video of a state Governor interviewing a school Teacher, not for a job, but for her ability to read.

A school Teacher, unable to read; somehow that is a statement that does not make sense except if the Teacher in question has suddenly been struck with blindness. But there it was, in full colours, a Teacher who was unable to pronounce words like “declaration” “residing” and so on. People laughed because they found it funny. I did not laugh.For me it is a tragedy and it does not go down well with me at all. How can a Teacher not know how to read in the language of instruction?

This leads to the literacy question of our GENERATION NEXT series: whose fault is it when people who have gone to school do not know how to read, write and speak?

Who takes the blame for a Mechanical Engineer who knows next to nothing about machines or anything about the Engineering process for that matter? Whose fault is it when Doctors misdiagnose and patients die? Who should take the blame when a broadcaster ‘murders’ English language on air in an English-speaking country?

I frequently find myself carrying out Human Resource functions which sometimes include hiring and it never fails to amaze me that people with University degrees are functionally illiterate. They are unable to read and understand the English Language! Last time I checked we were still an English-speaking country so where lies the problem? I’m honestly puzzled but maybe I should not be.

When I was growing up the public library was a big deal. It was ‘cool’ to be seen with a novel and book sharing was a major part of our lives. Now cable TV has taken over and phones and mobile devices are the new ‘cool’.

What I find difficult to accept is how a generation like mine that grew up on a steady diet of James Hardley Chase, Mills and Boon Romance, Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon, Leon Uris, James Clavell, Chinua Achebe, Chukwuemeka Ike and so many other great authors could allow its offspring to feed on junk like cartoons and Home Videos! How did we let that happen? And why? And most importantly, what are going to do about it?3

Where is generation next?

Shalom!