Celebrated writer, journalist and author of ‘Igho Goes to Farm’, Mr. Anote Ajeluorou, has blasted the National Library of Nigeria (NLN) for not promoting creative writing and writers in the country.
He lamented its dilapidated facility in Yaba, Lagos, and the Abuja headquarters that has remained uncompleted since construction started over 13 years ago.
According to Ajeluorou, beyond asking writers to submit copies of published books to it, there’s nothing else to indicate that a national library exists in Nigeria. He therefore charged the federal Government to give the Abuja library needed attention and complete it this year.
He noted that constructing rail lines, bridges, roads and other infrastructure means nothing if the minds of the people are not cultivated but bereft of knowledge that books in a library give.
He further explained that Nigeria’s current underdevelopment has correlation with neglecting to enrich the minds of the people with good books that the parlous state of the national library signifies. Mr. Ajeluorou made the remarks as he prepared to read to children from his acclaimed ‘Igho Goes to Farm’ (already approved for junior secondary school classes by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council -NERDC) at Jelosimi Art Centre, Oshodi, Lagos, on Friday, January 29. Jelosimi Art Centre is an arm of Sobayo Abolore Art Foundation.
‘Igho Goes to Farm’ is also among the best 11 children’s books in the country.
Ajeluorou, who is Head of Politics at The Guardian said America’s Youth Poet Laureate, Ms Amanda Gorman, 22, who performed her poem at the inauguration of America’s 46th president, Mr. Joe Biden, was discovered at a reading event her country’s national library organised, where Biden’s wife, Jill, was among the audience member.
He noted that Mrs. Biden was so impressed with Gorman’s performance that she invited her to feature at her husband’s inauguration, where Gorman captivated the entire world with her poem of national renewal and optimism for the future, ‘The Hill We Climb.’
Ajeluorou said had America’s national library not provided Gorman with that unique opportunity and platform to display her poetic talent, she would have remained an obscure young poet known only in her small circle.
But with that inauguration platform she eloquently seized, Gorman has now been transformed into a global young poet of immense promise.
Ajeluorou stated that that singular act of dedicated activity by America’s national library has elevated Gorman to poetic stardom where both her poem and an earlier book she published rose to number one and two on Amazon. com a day after her inauguration performance.
He therefore urged the Prof. Lenrie Aina-led apex library administration to immediately begin initiating quarterly engagements for writers, even if via virtual platforms in view of the coronavirus pandemic, for Nigerian young writers to showcase their works to the public.
He also cited the instance of the recent summit of Poets in Nigeria (PIN), a body of young poets, led by Mr. Eriata Oribhabor, which held for two days in Lagos, as example of what the nation’s foremost library should be doing to engage young people in rewarding creative engagements.
At Abolore Art Foundation, Mr. Ajeluorou will read and mentor young people and inspire them to see the beauty in reading and writing and how the two activities can change their lives for the better.
The children’s author urged parents to always buy quality books like Igho Goes to Farm, approved by NERDC, for their children and wards and reduce children’s television-viewing time so they could concentrate and excel in their schoolwork.