The Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP) recognises the strategic importance of intellectual materials including books…
“We all know that books burn — yet we have the greater knowledge that books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man’s eternal fight against tyranny of every kind. In this war, we know, books are weapons.”
– President Franklin Roosevelt (USA)
These quoted words of President Roosevelt were his direct responses to the large scale destruction of books and other intellectual materials by Germany during the Second World War. With Adolf Hitler’s blessings, books were drawn from universities and homes, piled up to be burnt. It all started in Berlin and the exercise of burning books was held across the country. In their own thinking, and intoxicated with a delusionary nationalism, Germans burnt the books to expurgate unGerman materials from Germany’s system and thoughts. At the end, about 100 million books from 957 libraries and 531 institutes, amongst others, were destroyed.
It was therefore a great seminal event when the ISGPP Book Readers Club was formally launched on 8 August, 2018. The launch event witnessed a deep intellectual excursion into the trajectories of learning, documented ideas, the defining thoughts and their nuanced richness as served by the Chairman, Booksellers Limited, Dr. Kolade Mosuro, who was keynote speaker. As I am convinced that the reading public would benefit from the deep and rich ideas that Dr. Mosuro shared, I had plans to share some of his thoughts much more generously in my subsequent write up.
The Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP) recognises the strategic importance of intellectual materials including books in the generation of new modes of expressions and experiences, to explore, represent or reform the society and human experiences. Beyond these, ISGPP is also interested in interrogating books as policies, thoughts and documented ideas.
Unraveling researched ideas that could enrich development thinking is therefore the motive behind the establishment of the ISGPP Book Readers Club, entrusted with the mandate of not just promoting the culture of reading books. The Club provides a vibrant platform for the interrogation of documented ideas, frameworks and paradigms thus engendering critical interactions and discourse among crucial members of the Nigerian public, on various issues that have serious bearing on the Nigerian condition
At the event, book aficionados agreed that lifelong education suggests that beyond the structured formal years of education, the process of learning continues in different forms. Globally, lifelong education has been identified as the most important driver of social, economic, political, technological, and environmental development. However, meaningful and realistic national development can only be achieved when sufficient attention is paid to strengthening the implementation of lifelong education. Therefore, it becomes imperative that governments and the private sectors make substantial sacrifices, in terms of resources, time, energy, and expertise towards the promotion of sustainable lifelong education in Nigeria. It is by this process that developing countries like Nigeria can derive the fullest benefit from lifelong education and achieve the desired development objective of improving the quality of life of its citizens.
The rate of access to the information resources and the extensive reading rate per capita are the development indices of a society; that is why the current world is called the information or the network society. The main feature of the network society is the elimination of spatial and temporal distances and information accessibility and utilizing them. However, despite the increasing extension of mass media, technology and internet, the matter of studying and book reading is still crucial. The number of published books, journals, libraries, readers, writers, translators and publishers of a country are all indices and fundamental criteria of its development. Thus, extending the culture of studying and book reading, developing libraries, publications and distribution of books and utilizing this unrivaled cultural instruments are the requirements and necessities of each society’s growth and, encouraging people, especially young people, to read and study is a crucial point in this regard.
Throughout history, societies have been formed, reformed and informed by the profound and well projected ideas of revolutionaries, writers, researchers and thought leaders who recognise the primacy of knowledge. The words of famous playwright, William Shakespeare, continue to resonate and ring true as relevant with humanity even centuries after this simple English man wrote the last of his plays. Shakespeare wrote enormously about kings and nobles as much as he wrote about commoners. He wrote about comedies, history and tragedies; King Lear, Richard the First, Richard the Second, Richard the Third, Henry IV, Julius Caesar, Tempest, Merchant of Venice, Macbeth etc. Humans have always marveled about men and women with power, fame, wealth and influence. Going back to the Romans, we have always enjoyed biographies so that the lives of great men and women can be moral lessons for us. We also like to peep. We like to see great people in their nakedness. What makes Shakespeare so enthralling is his unique insight into human foibles and his stories cover the theatre of life. Age after age, he is still persistently contemporary and relevant, and his works continue to resonate.
Some of the things that sparked the French Revolution were the awareness created by books that gave a vivid account of aristocratic corruption in the presence of mass squalor. Jean Jacques-Rousseau’s Social Contract was a good part of the instigators, arguing for the collective will of the society as a mark of the collective will of the people, and that laws should draw from that collective will. With this, he challenged the traditional order of the society. We know from history and books that the masses rose in a revolution, stormed the Palace and took over, leading logically to the principle of majority rule. How bad it was in Paris before the revolution was captured for us by Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities.
To be continued