By: Shotola Abiodun

One of the very foremost activity that brings a people out blindness and unawareness is reading. However, this activity is fast reaching its nadir among the youths. Folks now have a fixed dislike or disinterestedness for reading. This is hugely due to social media which has captured the minds of many youths. Social media is not totally bad, in fact Facebook particularly for this writer, is an open university. Facebook is a mini-seminary for me. The usage of social media among youths nowadays instead of enlightening them on things that matter is rather putting a horrible veil on their faces.

In an article published by one Sarah Nicholas a couple of years ago. She shared the reading statistics of Americans. Here’s what she wrote: “Those in the U.S. aged 20–34 read the least, with an average of 6.6 minutes per day, with teenagers reading 1.8 minutes more. Those 75 and older read the most, with an average of 51 minutes per day.”

From the above statistics it is clear that youths read the least. The same and if not worse may be said of Nigeria. This is a wretched system. Are readers not meant to be leaders of tomorrow?

I will write briefly about three men who have prodigiously encouraged me to read lately.

The first is the Apostle Paul. Paul ordered Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:13 to bring “the books, especially the parchments.” Paul was constantly led by divine inspiration yet he did not do away with his books. He understands the value of reading. Paul could have insisted that the divine revelations are just enough and that he needs other sources to amass knowledge to himself. If Paul, as mighty as he was, was a reader of books who am I not to be a reader?

The second is the Nobel laureate and renowned professor, Wole Soyinka. He wrote in the “The Unacknowledged” section of his prison memoir dubbed “The Man Died” – “Books and all forms of writing have always been objects of terror to those who seek to suppress the truth”. Many youths nowadays are no more than mere ignoramuses. Many youths have stopped wielding the sword of books. They know nothing and can say nothing. They are thus subject to the molestation of error-peddlers. Books are lamps to guide us when walking in the dark. The veil of ignorance is removed only when we become readers.

The last person is someone who has been very helpful to me lately in understanding the Bible: Uncle Deji Yesufu. On the 24th of July, 2020 uncle Deji sent me a lengthy article. While reading the article I complained about its length and these were his response to me – “My brother, we must learn to read long texts”. As if that was not enough encouragement again he said “Ignorance persists because people are not reading”. I cannot agree any less with him. What we are seeing today is a group of young men and women walking about with prideful ignorance who are also unwilling to unfetter their ignorance by book-reading . If we would be wise and knowledgeable in this age we must learn to be readers. We must give more time to reading.

These three men – Apostle Paul, Prof. Wole Soyinka and Deji Yesufu have profoundly helped me to become a reader. Charles Spurgeon, who is today referred to as the “Prince of preachers”, read an average of six books per week. This is a good thing and I hope to emulate this.

Reading of books is often times the first step to be taken if one would get out of the ugly mire of ignorance. If readers are truly leaders of tomorrow I’m afraid there will be few or no leader in this country in the nearest future as many youths have a detestable aversion for reading. We must all as youths be able to say with a steely resolve “I will be a reader”.

Biodun Shotola is a 300L student of the University of Ibadan. He wrote this piece from his home in Ibadan.

Posted by Deji Yesufu

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