‘We’re Breeding A Generation Of Illiterates’ – Soyinka

We’re Breeding A Generation Of Illiterates –  Soyinka

6 months ago
2 mins read

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has decried the decline of reading culture in society, leading to the breeding of what he called the “illiterate generation” of people who are only literate in the use of social media.

The literary giant stated this during an event to mark the official opening of the Library & Resource Centre established by the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) on Sunday, 14 January 2024 at CORAVille, Freedom Park, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Lamenting about the waning reading culture and the negative impact on society, Soyinka said: “Majority of our upcoming generation is illiterate not just semi-literate. The only literacy they have is the literacy of the Internet, the lowest form of social media. We are breeding a generation of illiterates. Not just in terms of reading but also mentally illiterates, incapable of retaining a concept in their minds not even for one microsecond.

Soyinka, who was a special guest of honour at the event said one of the solutions to this social malaise is setting up a resource centre like CORA has done and finding ways to encourage the youths who found themselves in such a world to key in, as efforts continue in the quest to reverse the narrative which seems to be taking a dangerous dimension in terms of swaying standard literacy development process.

‘We’re Breeding A Generation Of Illiterates’ – Soyinka
Chief Kayode Aderinokun Chair, CORA Board of Trustees, thanking Soyinka for supporting the project.

While commending the initiative of CORA committee in setting up the Library and Resource Centre, Soyinka promised to collaborate with the CORA Board to create more centres to promote a reading culture and drive mass literacy development.

Speaking earlier, Chief Kayode Aderinokun Chair CORA Board of Trustees, thanked Prof. Soyinka for being a great inspiration behind the library project. He explained that the concept of CORA Library & Resource Centre (L&RC) was to have a hub that would serve as a database and repository for the transfer of value from one generation to another.

‘We’re Breeding A Generation Of Illiterates’ – Soyinka

Chief Aderinokun disclosed that given modern realities, they plan to set up an e-library to store various information. He said the library is just a symbolic structure as the digital library would help in archiving. “We want to do our own small bit of archiving,” he said, adding that the hub will serve as a centre for development communication.

Also, in his address, Secretary-General of CORA, Toyin Akinosho, said the idea behind the L&RC goes back to the inception of the Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF) in 1999 where the idea of improving literacy through creating centres where books can be read was muted. He emphasized the need to revive reading culture.

‘We’re Breeding A Generation Of Illiterates’ – Soyinka
Secretary-General of CORA, Toyin Akinosho

He mentioned other programmes CORA had embarked on since 1999 such as Book Treks, Book and Art Festival, and haven’t been successful in setting up libraries all over town, “But this space (L&RC) has been deliberately elevated to a Resource Centre. We are aspiring to what the Whitney M Young Resource Centre was, in the 1980s Lagos,” Akinosho stated.

He said the plan was initially to set up libraries in 12 cities in the country’s six geopolitical zones but was later moderated to Six City Libraries in Lagos all in a bid to tackle the entrenched challenges of literacy in Nigeria. He said the library and The Book Trek will be running programmes all year round.

Earlier in the opening ceremony, former Editor of The Guardian, and member of the CORA Board, Mr Jahman Anikulapo, welcomed all present and thanked Prof. Soyinka for supporting the CORA project and others who helped in different ways to ensure that opening the centre was successful.

‘We’re Breeding A Generation Of Illiterates’ – Soyinka
Mr Jahman Anikulapo

Highlights of the event were short poetry readings, dramatic performances by young literary enthusiasts, and book donations by individuals to the centre.

‘We’re Breeding A Generation Of Illiterates’ – Soyinka

CORA Programme Officer, Ifunanya Ottih, who is also the Project Officer for the L&RC, led the guests including Prof. Soyinka to different sections of the library introducing various categories of books, works of art and other resource materials that people can explore during a visit to the centre for knowledge, and entertainment among others.

The centre called for support from members of the public who are passionate about reviving reading culture and improving literacy in the country.



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