Saturday, January 22, 2022

Emir laments dying literature studies, reading culture

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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The Emir of Suleja in Niger State, Malam Muhammad Awwal Ibrahim, has bemoaned the dearth of traditional libraries that used to house literature books and other reading materials for the discerning youth of the country.

He said modern libraries, better known as E-libraries, have discouraged the learning culture amongst youth, who now spend a large chunk of their time browsing the internet and engaging in social media chats.

The emir stated this on Monday at the 11th edition of the International Conference on Northern Nigeria Literature, holding at the headquarters of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in Abuja, a statement by the university’s spokesperson, Ibrahim Sheme, said.

The two-day conference, with the theme “Literature and Contemporary Developments in Northern Nigeria”, has participants drawn from across the federation as well as overseas. They are expected to discuss literary exploits and trends in the region.

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The emir, while underscoring the E- library modernity, said during his time in the 1950s, they used to learn a lot from literature including the history and culture of societies, where they drew inspiration.

He urged the participants to discuss the ways that would improve the reading culture of Nigerian youth if the country was to replicate literary giants like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Zaynab Alkali and others.

Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, Prof Abdalla Uba Adamu, said in his speech that the conference was designed to draw attention to the rich literary heritage of the region, regardless of religion.

Adamu, the chief host of the event, said the yearly conference was used to be co-hosted by Bayero University, Kano, and Kwara State University, Malete, has now become a tripartite event, with NOUN as another co-hosting institution.

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The event, he added, was also organised to “establish a focal interest in the development of indigenous scholarship in the region in all spares of knowledge.”

He called on organisers to consider changing the theme of the conference to “Indegenous Literature in Nigeria”, to make it more inclusive and enriching.

On his part, the keynote speaker, Prof Graham Furniss of the University of London, said his discourse focused on “issues of diversity and hybridity”, to reflect upon attitudes to the diverse and hybrid.

Furniss, who took time to explain the “Reflections on diversity and the task of literary and cultural study,” thanked the organisers for inviting him to the event that strives to keep literature in Northern Nigeria well alive.

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Chairman of the organising committee and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, NOUN, Prof Godwin Akper, told the gathering that events in the region have helped in shaping activities which convinced academics to proffer solutions and answers.

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