27th September, 2012
In view of the decadence in the country’s education sector, a fresh graduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University, OOU, Tofarati Ige, recently flagged off the Book Reading Campaign. In this interview with Campus Square, he speaks on his plans to revive reading culture among Nigerians and the academia
You are a writer, singer, poet, rapper and event manager. How do you combine them all?
Well, I always refer to myself as a total entertainer. Though it could be stressful and hectic combining all these, the passion and love which I have for entertainment keeps me going. Also, there is a seamless interaction between all these facets of entertainment. So, I’m able to cope well.
So what are the things you’ve done?
I have published two books on poetry which are both doing well in the market right now. They are called TOWN CRIER and ORIKI (PRAISE POETRY), and some of my songs are also enjoying airplay on different radio stations across the country.
What are you up to now?
I’m organising a programme called Bring Back the Book Campaign (BBBC). I have been positively affected by books all my life and I just want to share that same experience with people all around the country.
As we all know, the reading culture in Nigeria is very poor, and I believe that we need to change that before we can make a headway as a country. Some graduates are described as half baked because they cannot construct simple sentences in English. It is quite sad, and we hope to change that.
How do you plan to go about that?
Well, we visit schools, churches and mosques and we talk to the people, encouraging them to read and establish small libraries in their homes, churches and mosques. We also donate books to indigent students who otherwise aren’t able to afford them.
It also involves a competition, whereby we ask students to read books and also come up with original stories, poems and dramas of their own.
And how has the response been?
The response has been very positive. We have been able to change some people’s minds about the power of books. And everywhere we go, it’s really beautiful to see how we are impacting lives in our own little way.
How do you get funding for this?
Currently, I still fund this from my pocket. I’m not doing this for the money but I’m doing it to affect my generation and the people around me in a memorable way. Martin Luther King Jnr said: “If you’re not living for something, then you’re living for nothing.”
It is my passion to change lives. However, we will welcome support and partnership from well meaning individuals and organisations.
Tell us a bit about your educational background.
I’m a graduate of Biological Sciences from the Olabisi Onabanjo University.