by Adenike Fagade
For participants at iRead held on Saturday, September 5, it was a relaxed time out, an all-inspiring experience worth every moment it lasted for.
The venue was the Thisday Media Centre, Palms Shopping Center, lekki. The event was: iRead, a book reading event designed by DADA books, an imprint of Dream Arts and Design Agency with support from ThisDay Media Center, and planned to hold periodically. The idea behind iRead, according to its promoters, is to provide a social platform for interaction centered around books; where individuals can come and share from books that they find interesting with other book loving young people. Anybody is welcome to read an excerpt from a choice book, sharing with the audience why that part is interesting with a general summary of the book. Celebrities are also invited as special guests each month. What better way to hangout and escape from a week of long hours at work?
Despite the heavy rain that pelted the city of Lagos on that Saturday morning, people still dared the weather to come out, to read books and listen to others read.
Onyeka Nwelue, the young author of The Abyssinian Boy, set the ball rolling by reading from Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, sharing the part where the major character made up his mind to become an atheist after breaking his nose while bowing down to pray on his mat.
Following this was Alagbe Adeola reading an excerpt from Starbook by Ben Okri. Then Maduakor Jesse came forward to read from Jumoke Verissimo’s I am Memory, expressing his interest in a poem on the theme of death. Other people that read included Kunle Dada reading from Basil Davidson’s Blackman’s Burden, Ayodele Arigbabu (author of A Fistful of Tales) reading from Onyeka Nwelue’s The Abyssinian Boy, Jude Dibia (author of Unbridled) reading from Toni Morrison’s Paradise, Ojiaka Ogonna reading from Igoni Barrett’s From Caves of Rotten Teeth, Jumoke Verissimo (author of I am memory) reading from Dylan Thomas’ The Poems, Ojiaka Chizitere reading her own poem titled: For Roots Sake, and Joy Bewaji (author of Eko Dialogue) reading from Adaobi Nwabani’s I do Not Come to You by Chance.
Thus went the readings for the day with lively discussions accompanying each reading. But that wasn’t all for the day. Jumoke Verissimo and Onyeka Nwelue, both authors with works published by DADA books, stepped forward to share their experiences on their recent individual journeys outside the country promoting their books. Jumoke had been to Macedonia representing Nigeria at the Struga Poetry Evenings, one of the biggest poetry festivals in the world while Onyeka was in India having been invited over by some of his fans to discuss his book and further strengthen the relationship between Nigeria and India. The stories recounted by these young Nigerian writers were rather uplifting, Jumoke got to discuss poetry with the President of Macedonia and Onyeka met with major publishers and authors, almost single handedly changing the perception held by Indians that all Nigerians are drug dealers by virtue of the positive reports he generated in a few Indian Newspapers. Participants at iRead were impressed that literary works could go so far in correcting the negative image of the country internationally and earning Nigerian writers respect.
The day’s event ended on this note. DADA books have, through yet another interactive book reading project, challenged the sarcastic old saying that ‘if you want to hide anything from a black man, put it in a book’. With events like this and establishments like ThisDay Media Center providing a platform for literary expression, one is sure to encounter a lot more of the knowledge and creativity the young African generation has at the continent’s disposal.