To further encourage reading and creative writing among students, the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos, Akoka, yesterday featured Dr. Lola Akande, who read from her latest work, What It Takes, in the February, 2017 edition of the department’s literary reading. The monthly literary reading, which started in 2006, and has featured such writers as Chimamanda Adichie, Odia Ofeimun, Sam Omatseye among others, is an avenue for inspiring students of the department to be creative writers.
Students and lecturers gathered at the faculty’s boardroom as they sipped from Akande’s creative brew. She read excerpts from her new novel that brings to light the ills in Nigerian university system, specifically lecturer versus student relationship and the needless rigor required to acquire a PhD degree.
Akande explained that lecturers take advantage of their positions and the situation on ground to sexually harass and extort students as some of the students who are fragile fall into their whimsical trap. She said the aim of the novel is for society at large to be conscious of the happenings in the university system and for the dastardly acts that happened there to stop so as to promote quality education at all levels in the country.
Also, speaking at the event, Head, Department of English, Prof. Hope Eghagha, said the literary reading programme was initiated to restore and improve reading habits among students. He noted that Akande’s novel captures the reality in the university system as male lectures exploit female students by taking advantage of them, a situation that terrifies students and make learning or acquiring a degree a hard task.
According to him, “Book reading is a practice we try to establish in the department. We invite writers to read their latest work as a way of interacting with students to imbibe the habit of reading. Male–female relationship comes up in the university system often. Male lecturers exploit female students by taking advantage of them. I try to comprehend these issues and admonish them.”
Also to lend his voice was Prof. Timothy Asobele, management board member of the university, who commended the author of the book and the effort put into bringing such evil deeds into limelight. He said lecturers, who engage in such immoral acts never rise above their positions of mediocrity and depravity.
“Lola has been groomed by the faculty and department which is evident in her works,” he said. “She captures what happens in the university system. Lecturers, who are evil-doers do not rise above their position due to the evil scheme they engage in with vulnerable students.”
There were musical interludes as well as Akande read excerpts from her novel. Reviewer of the book and an alumnus of the university, Samuel Olatunji, also noted that the author infused real life experiences to energise the fictional narrative so that readers can feel and experience the narrator’s plight and empathise with her all the way.
Akande holds a doctorate degree in English Literature from the University of Ibadan. She teaches African Literature and has written In Our Place, Camouflage and Dream Chasers.
FOR Akande, the literary reading event was most fulfilling and even surpassed all her expectations. In a conversation after the event, she said, “I wasn’t sure how it would go; I was sure I was going to be attacked. A colleague had accosted me about the book before; so, I was expecting something like taht, but I didn’t see anything of such. My colleagues really came to support me.
“It was very fulfilling. I felt and still feel very grateful to God. I didn’t expect it would turn out so great. It was like a book launch. It felt amazing; our boardroom was filled to capacity. Surprisingly, the HOD, Eghagha, tried to get someone to review What It Takes, but the person he got couldn’t make it. But a former student volunteered; it was so magical, so miraculous. I can assure you I had an exciting time. Some people asked me how I got the courage to write such a book; they were afraid for me how the university would receive the book. Do you know that the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics and Research, Prof. Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe, just sent me a mail asking me to participate in the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) Structural Training for African Researchers? I was surprised. It prepared me for my triumph today!”