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Revitalizing Nigeria through Reading Promotions

Article by: Richard Mammah |

Revitalizing Nigeria through Reading Promotions

by:Richard Mammah, President, NBRP
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Let me begin by thanking Olatoun Gabi-Williams, initiator of the African Perspectives Series, Founder, Borders Literature for all Nations, UN SDG Book Club African Chapter Publicist and Management Committee Member, for availing us this much needed platform that enables us to share details about the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Culture Promoters (NBRP) in Nigeria. This article will be written from the perspective of NBRP's potential to contribute to the realization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, UNSDGs.

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About NBRP

NBRP emerged on the Nigerian national readership promotions scene in February 2023 with the following stated aims and objectives:

  1. To bring together book clubs and reading promotion organizations in Nigeria for shared readership advocacy.
  2. To serve as a platform to encourage more Nigerians to read.
  3. To collectively project and present the interest of book clubs and reading promotion organizations in the book chain.
  4. To cooperate with other organizations in the book trade with a view to forging more beneficial relationships and partnerships between readers and the rest of the book chain actors.
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Achievements So Far and Gains Recorded

Awareness creation: Book clubs matter

We believe that our most significant contribution to the reading and books ecosystem so far, is our helping to register in the minds of more and more swathes of the Nigerian population as well as in the public consciousness, that book clubs exist here and that they are needed for achieving critical national development goals. The nation's population should patronize and use them.

While this has been done through various platforms, media and engagements over the years, the peak of our awareness-raising activities has been our Lagos Book Walk activity undertaken to flag off the tenure of Lagos, Nigeria's commercial and culture capital, as the Nigerian National Book City 2023. The Lagos Book Walk took place on April 27, 2023 and included among other activities and schedules, the presentation of the 10-point Lagos Book Charter: Suggestions for Improving the Reading Culture in Lagos to officials of the State Government. The document was the product of extensive consultations among stakeholders in the books and reading ecosystem that comprised publishers, authors, booksellers, librarians, authors and reading promoters.

Book Walk 2023
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Walking the Collaboration path

One of NBRP's tracks to achieving its goals is walking the collaboration path. This is based on a simple reasoning that book clubs as aggregate assemblies of readers do not exist as completely autonomous islands unto themselves. They need books produced by other stakeholders and they equally need reading spaces. Our collaboration initiatives have therefore seen us join with other book ecosystem players like the Nigerian Publishers Association, the Booksellers Association of Nigeria, the Association of Nigerian Authors, the Nigerian Copyright Commission and the Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria in organizing the annual Nigerian International Book Fair. It has also seen us signing MOUs with agencies and organisations like the National Library of Nigeria, the Nigerian Library Association and the Committee for Relevant Art, CORA, in relation to setting up book clubs in libraries countrywide and undertaking joint book advocacy engagements.

Book Walk 2023
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No blind walking: The imperative of data-gathering

Before we got into the field, one of our biggest concerns was not wanting to play the wild card. We saw that we were working in a field where for various constricting reasons, guesses and assumptions were being generally used in place of statistics and we decided to do something about it. This is why one of our first public projects was a commitment to data gathering. The result was the Preliminary Survey on the State of Reading Infrastructure in Nigeria that was presented to stakeholders at the Nigerian International Book Fair in 2022. We also conducted a second survey on the reading habits of Nigerians in the Lagos area.

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Sustaining, energizing, populating book clubs and building more functional capacity within NBRP

This is one area where we have pushed quite hard, deploying a combination of virtual and physical tools. It began with our Whatsapp platform where almost on a daily basis, we share beneficial information, opportunities regarding book clubs, reading promotions trends and allied matters. We also have our quarterly training sessions designed to help our members and affiliates upscale their methods while also encouraging the setting up of new book clubs in cities and schools countrywide. Our last major activity in this regard was the formal induction of some 22 new clubs on the sidelines of the 61st National Conference and AGM of the Nigerian Library Association that took place in Akure, Ondo State in July 2023. Notably, one of the newly set up clubs was that of the National Library branch in Akure. The yearly AGM and Conference of NBRP is another much valued capacity building forum.

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Countrywide outreach

As part of our deliberate effort to ensure that the reading promotions train impacts different spaces and strata across Nigeria, we have a rotational Nigerian National Book Clubs City scheme that encourages the concentration of our work within a given city/state per year. The beneficiary city is chosen in a bid process that peaks during the Annual General Meeting and Conference of NBRP and upon being declared successful, the successful city is supported to carry out reading promotions activities within its broader state area for at least one calendar year.

Akwa Ibom enjoyed this grace in 2021 and 2022. Lagos is the current beneficiary and Yenagoa/Bayelsa has already being chosen as Nigerian National Book Clubs City 2024. The 2025 Host City is to be chosen during the 2023 NBRP AGM and Conference in Lagos in September, 2023.

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NBRP and the SDGs

The work we do at the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Culture Promoters in Nigeria fits in very well with the themes and objectives expressed in SDG 8 -Decent Work and Economic Growth. This goal calls attention to the imperative of sustained, inclusive sustainable economic growth and full, productive employment and decent work for all. In addition, we are persuaded that it strongly resonates with SDG 4 - Inclusive, Equitable & Quality Education. This is more so as this goal advocates the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all.

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Through encouraging a culture of foundational grounding in literacy and the reading enterprise; through continued supplemental reading during formal school engagements; through imbibing and practicing life-long reading as a continuing engagement for all of the population, NBRP is helping to ensure the nurturing of a population of people primed to be a net-contributor to national wealth creation in a replenishable, continually value-adding chain all through the span of their lives.

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Richard Mammah - Career Profile

Richard Mammah is an experienced editor and manager with a demonstrated history of working in the books and publishing industry. He possesses skills in writing, publishing, advertising, editing and media relations. He is a strong business development professional with a B.A and M.A in English and Literary Studies from University of Calabar, Nigeria. Since February 2020, he has been the President of the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria (NBRP). NBRP was founded in February 2020 as a non-profit to develop, promote and sustain a reading culture in Nigeria and to serve as an umbrella organization for Book Clubs in the country. He currently serves as the President of the elected Executive Council that runs the affairs of the organization. The council's achievements include:

  • Launch of 774 Book Clubs and Libraries Project, a campaign to ensure the emergence of at least one book club and a properly equipped library per local council area in Nigeria.
  • National Book Club City project where a city in the country that has an active NBRP presence gets to be garlanded to serve as the focal point for reading promotions initiatives countrywide. Uyo was the pioneer holder of the status for 2021 and 2022. Lagos took over the status of National Book Club City on April 23rd 2023.
The Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters (NBRP) is a partner of the UN SDG Book Club Africa.

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About the African Perspectives Series

The African Perspective Series was launched at the 2022 Nigeria International Book Fair with the first set of commissioned papers written and presented by authors of the UN SDG Book Club African Chapter. The objective of African Perspectives is to have African authors contribute to the global conversation around development challenges afflicting the African continent and to publish these important papers in the SDG Book Club blog hosted in the Stories section of the UN Namibia site. In this way, our authors' ideas about the way forward for African development, can reach the widest possible interested audience.. The African Perspectives Series is an initiative and property of Borders Literature for all Nations.

1 Comment(s)
Posted by Chigozie Mbadugha | 27.November.2023 10:02:14 This is an awesome summary of NBRP's contributions and impact on the literary landscape of Nigeria. I am immensely proud to be a member of this network. Well done sir.

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