World Book Day is a registered charity on a mission to give every child and young person a book of their own. Celebrated on March 7, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.
The main aim is to use the platform to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own. On this day, children of all ages come together to appreciate reading; very loudly and very happily.
To commemorate the 2019 World Book Day in Nigeria, FAMFA Oil staged a special event at the Shell Hall, MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos, with children drawn from bot public and private school from across the state in attendance.
Held under the theme Share a story, the fun filled event, which was spiced with performances, saw some distinguished individuals read for the children on stage. They include Mrs Naza Alakija, Mrs Juliet Chiazo, Mrs Sola Momoh and the CEO of Fidelity Bank Nnamdi Okonwo. One after the other, the special guests took their turn on stage to read from Munachi Mbonu’s latest book, Chidubem the child of destiny.
In between the reading were dance drama performances by the Proud Roots Production led by Grandma Wura. Themed The Village, the troupe used their performances to drive different messages to the children, especially the story of Nkechi, who wished she was an ant.
Drawing from the story, Grandma Wura, who communicated with the children in the language they understand, encouraged them to aspire to become great leaders, adding, “You can be whatever you like to be, what matters is how you are able to manage the situation you found yourself.”
She also gave them five values of a good leader, which includes service, hardwork, teamwork, integrity and love.
Speaking at the event, Rotimi Alakija, Executive Director, FAMFA Oil, who said the organisation is currently looking at having a foundation focused on education, informed that the initiative was aimed at encouraging young people to imbibe reading culture.
“We are trying to help inspire a new generation of children. Battered in public, healing anonymously Reading should be enjoyable; reading should not be a trauma. It should be a fantasy. Reading is something the children should be able to learn something from. Without education, things fall apart.”
He continued: “Nigeria has a lot of children out of school. We want to try to do our part to keep them in school and keep them interested. And the best way to keep them interested is with books, with stories.”
On the sustainability plans for the project, Alakija said, “As long as FAMFA is still in this country and is still working, we will continue to do this. This is not a one off thing. It is something that will continue,” he assured.
Sharing her experiences reading from Mbonu’s book with the children, Naza Alakija said, “It is really amazing to see how, at eleven years old could write such a book. If you are truly passionate about something and you love what you are doing, you will have the capability to do that. No matter what it is, you will find the means; you will find the resolve. And I think (it’s also important) to reach out to platforms that are available; to reach out to whoever you can to make your dream come true.”
While encouraging other well-meaning Nigerians and organisations to pay attention to the children, Naza said, “it’s always good to start somewhere, develop a platform where other people can be inspired, whether you work in a local library, in a bank, wherever; you can contribute to children and help those that don’t have the opportunity other children have. I think it is inspiring, not only for the children, but also about inspiring other people to get involved and see what part they can do.”
On her part, Mrs Sola Momo, the Vice Chairman of Channels TV, said reading with the children brought back fond memories.
“It’s like being a little girl all over again. I appreciate the fact that a lot of people are promoting the learning culture, which is fading away. So, it’s really a laudable project and I urge everyone to inspire his or her children and wards to read; there’s nothing like reading,” she noted.