Author of Igho Goes to Farm and journalist, Mr Anote Ajeluorou, has blasted the National Library of Nigeria (NLN) for not promoting creative writing and writers in the country, even as he lamented its dilapidated facility in Yaba, Lagos, and the Abuja headquarters that has remained uncompleted since construction started over 13 years ago. Beyond asking writers to submit copies of published books to it, according to the author, 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 under-development 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 Center, 13 Arowojobe Street, Oshodi, Lagos, on Friday, January 29, 2021. Time is 10 am. The book is also among the best 11 children’s books in the country. Jelosimi Art Center is an arm of Sobayo Abolore Art Foundation.
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.
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 for their children and wards.
Mr Ajeluorou commended Mr. Abolore for his bold initiative in locating his arts centre in Oshodi, saying the location is apt, as it would not only help to moderate the notoriety of Oshodi and give it a new image, but also give young people resident in the area positive alternative platform to expend their youthful energy away from crime and other unwholesome activities that Oshodi is renowned. Ajeluorou also tasked other public-spirited individuals to toe the path Mr Abolore has paved to give young people of challenged communities across the country platforms to exercise their creative energies in the right direction.
Indeed, it’s a weekend of engaging artistic events at Jelosimi Arts Center. After Ajeluorou reads on Friday, Pottery Workshop with Ato Arinze with hold the next day, Saturday from 12 pm, while on Sunday, an Art Exhibition featuring Nurudeen Popoola’s works will also hold at 2 pm.
Last Sunday, Jelosimi Art Center and Sobayo Abolore Art Foundation held an online conference to commemorate The International Day of Education. It had as theme ‘Art and Technology: A pathway towards Encouraging Creative Education and Enhancing Critical Thinking’, which had Lagos State Comissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo as keynote speaker while the Rector, Lagos State Polytechnic playing a key role. Oliver Enwonwu, Adetola Salau, Julius Ilori, Sari Hurme-Mehtala and Bukola were resource persons, with the foundation’s co-founder, Sobayo Aisha, moderating.
Founder of Jelosimi Art Center, Mr. Abolore, said of his centre, “It becomes a social responsibility for every community to better equip their youths with necessary tools to think creatively. Helping our youth through art programmes may be one of the most important steps we can take as individuals and as a society.
“With the Jelosimi Art Center, we hope to engage children and youth both in school and out of school with the teaching of moral values, self-discovery, life skills development, leadership, team building, history of our past heroes, goal actualization, monitoring and evaluation.”