Literature Works that shaped Our Lives .

By:Douglas Ogbankwa Esq.

It was Francis Bacon that said :

Reading makes a man ,writing makes a prepared man ,while speaking makes a complete man

And so ,as young boys and girls ,who  loved to read  we started with Queen Premier and Later Common Errors in English by Jowitz and Nnamonu, that shaped our English.Of Course ,I inherited my Mother's Dictionary.My Mum was a Teacher and this assisted in me having access to alot of books.

I was fortunate to have a father that bought newspaper ,So I  Started reading news Paper when I was in Primary 3 ,not now when the young use the front page of today's newspaper to clean their buttocks ,after going to the toilet.

I bought my first news paper Champion Newspaper when I was in Primary 6 in Arinze Primary School in Benin City .Now ,I read myself in National Newspapers.What a feeling?The Apple does not fall far from tree.

Around that same time, I read Lamb Tales from Shakespeare from where I read epics of Williams Shakespeare like King Leah,Midsummer Night Dreams,Romeo and Juliet ,Othello,the Merchant of Venice ,As You Like It,Macbeth,The Taming of the Shrewd -which shaped my character in handling stubborn women,which I enjoyed doing with seamless skills as a Young Man ,using the tactics acquired  from the book .

I came across lovely books like  Mr. SMO Aka's My Father's Car The African Writers' Series had sublime books like the Passport of Mallam Millian,Efuru and the Rivers Between ,both Written by the First Female Author in Nigeria-Flora Nwapa.

I read Chinua Achebe"s Things Fall Apart when I was in JSS 2,from where I churned out  interesting Igbo Proverbs like He who brings Kola Brings Life ,Since they have learned to Shoot with out Missing ,I too have learned to fly with out missing,You stand in the ruins of the House of a Brave Man to point at the House of a Coward I also read other books by Chinua Achebe like  Arrow of God,Girls of War and just before he died I read his brutally frank book - There Was a Country.

We were also invited into the amazing books and Poems of the First African to win a Nobel Prize for Literature Prof. Wole Soyinka. I read Death and the King's Horse Man,Kogi's Harvest ,The Man Died ,The Mystery Gun Man

I like Wole Soyinka's  Poems they are mostly in Free Verse in  Abiku the Persona  said :

"In vain your bangles cast ,Charmed circles at my feet,I am Abiku, calling for the first

And the repeated time".

Reckon that Professor John Pepper Clark also wrote "Abiku",just he wrote "The Casualties","The Nigerian Railways", ,"Ibadan",etc.Worthy of Mention is the satirical Monologue,"The Telephone Conversation"by Prof. Wole Soyinka .

Talking about Satires ,who would Forget Prof.Niyi Osundare with his Profound Satire they too are the Earth ,where he asked the rhetorical question :

"Are they of this Earth ?

Those who Harry the Hills 

And Fritter the Forests"

He also.lampooned the those who run the Power Sector when stated in his untitled Satire ,that :

"A Deperate Match stabs the dark in Nepa's Darkdom ".

The Poems in Africa had their different Motif.East African Poems dwelled on the Paradox of Independence.Poems like Richard Ntiru's "Pauper ",Henry Barlow's "Building the Nation ".

In Southern Africa most of the poems depict  Racism and Conialism.Poems like Oswald Mtshalis "The Washer Woman Prayer " and another one -Dennis Brutus'"Night Fall in Soweto,".Dennis Brutus'"A Traboudor I traverse ,".

In West Africa the Motif of the poems dwelled on Cultural Re-awakening .You have poems like Olokun by J.P.,where the Persona said :

I am Jealous and Passiona like Jehovah , God of the Jews

You had a short  but Profound Poem by Kofi Awoonor called "The Cathedral"where the Persona said :

"On this dirty patch 

a tree once stood 

shedding incense on the infant corn,its boughs stretched across a heaven brightened by the last fires of a tribe.They sent surveyors and builders who cut that tree planting in its place a huge senseless cathedral of doom".

Who will forget foreign books like "Animal Farm ",by George Orwell"."Some animals are equal ,but others are more equal to others" .

Who will forget "The Lord of the Flies",which has three profound themes that defines the essence  of man kind,to wit :

1.Man's Inhumanity to Man .

2.Man's Way is inherently evil ,And 

3.Brittish Civilization and any other Civilization for that matter can not stop man's irrational behavior.

"The Old Man and the Sea" and "Arms and the Man",by Ernest Hermmingway ."The Great Expection" and "Oliver Twist ",by Charles Dickens ."The Mayor Castebridge "-By Thomas Hardy ,"A Tale of Two Cities",by Charles Dickens.

We have lovely poems like :"Two Looks at Two",by:Robert Frost ,,"Death Be Not Proud ",by John Donne,"My Last Duchess ",by Thomas Browning , William Wordsworth "The World is Too Much With Us " and "The Solitary Reaper ".

When you see people speak and write well it is not a mistake.It was borne out of nights of  burning the midnight candle reading books.If you want hide some thing in Nigeria ,put it in a book !

At this Juncture ,I must commend  Pastor Michael Omoregbee-Uncle Mike-My English and Literature Teacher , of Standard Lectures and Standard Schools in Benin  City ,who inspired me to rekindle my interest in Literature ,upon which I have even formed the Benin Writers' Society,the only one of its kind in the whole Edo State.Teachers reward are now on Earth ,not in heaven .Thank you very much sir ! *Teachers Rules the World ,not Politicians*-George W. Bush .

Most of our Young ones no longer read .They only watch  BBNaija, African Magic , Partying,posting pictures on Facebook with out "Facing their Book ".A Generation that does not read can not lead and in the land of the blind a one eyed man is King.

Government is not even doing enough.There are no Programmes in place to rekindle the reading culture.They are concerned about hosting the Winners of BBNaija,Beauty Queens and Musicians.

We should re- Introduce the Literary Debating and Dramatic Society,(,LDDS),to fire up the reading and writing culture .All these Yahoo Yahoo will fade away ,it is what you upstairs that stays with you till you die . People will also talk about it ,when you are gone .So ,take improving your content seriously.It is a good feeling when you speak in Public and you get a resounding applause .

Read ,Read and Read .It does not kill!

About the Writer :

Douglas Ogbankwa a Benin Based Lawyer and the Immediate Past Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA),Benin Branch-the Lion Bar and he is the Founder of the Benin Writers'Society.

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