I was a very talkative child. My mum always jokes about an encounter she had with me when I was a toddler that went as follows;
Mum: ‘Oyinda close your mouth’
Me: ‘ I can’t’
Me: ‘Because I want to talk’
Not only did I like to talk, I also loved to argue. My late Dad, bless him noticed those traits and was happy that he had a budding little lawyer who would eventually become a SAN(senior advocate of Nigeria similar to a QC -Queens Counsel in the UK).
Apart from talking and arguing, another thing i loved was reading. I was such a voracious reader that I was the child who would turn up to birthday parties with a storybook or novel in her bag. My mum would sometimes take the book out as she could not understand why you would need to read at a party. I loved talking but I also loved the quiet solitude of being alone by myself buried in books. I was the child who would win the dancing competition but could be found the next hour reading ‘Famous Five’ in the living room away from where the party was taking place.
That child is still the contradiction of who I am today. I love to talk,dance,play & meet people(yup I truly am that tired cliche :people person) but also love the solitude of being all by myself buried in a book. You know how people think extroverts get bored if they are not around people? No,not me. Rarely ever feel bored when I am by myself as long as I have reading material.
I eventually studied English which of course meant that my poor Dad did not get his Senior Advocate Of Nigeria. The funny thing was that I did eventually get the chance (and even a university acceptance) to go back to study law. But by then in my 2nd year of university I had fallen more in love with words and in turn ;Wordsmiths.
You know those people who can craft words and sentences together and make them into works of art. By my 3rd year, I could choose a major and even though it seemed like the less popular and ‘lucrative’ path, I chose to go down the literature route even though it meant more reading.
I know reading and personal development is really ‘IN’ at the moment.Don’t get me wrong, I do like the odd ‘self-help’ book and don’t begrudge whatever it is that gets people reading more.
For me though,appreciation of books/writing has always been about appreciating it as an art and in turn an expression of life. The stories that are told through books were always something that resonated with me on a deeper level. I read for entertainment but I also read for insight and would often always have a practical lesson that I gained from reading any material.
In university ,I got introduced to various genres and writers that looking back now ,realise played a part in forming what is now my world view.
And it was in those classes I got immersed further into the works of writers like Wole Soyinka,Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Mariama Ba, Ayi Kwei Armah, Peter Abraham’s ,Buchi Emecheta ,Amos Tutuola etc
I also got introduced to the works of writers like Nawal El Sadaawi, Alice Walker, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry,Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison( who sadly died last week).
I read widely and appreciate works from writers all over .However I have always had an affinity to African/Black writing. This quote by George Joseph sums up why I love African/black literature:
‘Traditionally Africans do not separate art from teaching. Rather than write or sing for beauty in itself, African writers, taking their cue from oral literature, use beauty to help communicate important truths and information to society. Indeed, an object is considered beautiful because of the truths it reveals and the communities it helps to build.”
Black writing often can’t be separated from the realities and experiences of the writer(even when it is fiction). And even though the appeal might not be widely universal,the thrust of a lot of black literature is to hold a mirror to the real world as it is, how it could be and lessons on how we could make it better. The culture is very contextual and so you would always have to read between and through the lines to get the thrust of what is being said.
Even before african/black writing became a genre, we had the traditional folktale or folklore stories that were used as a means of moral instruction. e.g the Ijapa(tortoise) stories in Yoruba, Nigeria and the Anansi(spider) folktales in Ashanti Ghana.These were passed down from generation to generation by mostly oral traditions.
Even as a person of faith, apart from the spiritual element,I marvel and appreciate at how the words in certain books in the bible are crafted eg Psalms, proverbs, Ecclesiastes and a lot of Paul’s epistles. The scriptures is another very contextual literature and a lot of times has to be read with that in mind rather than a canon that can be applied literarily.
The insights and benefits that can be gained from reading or words are just so immeasurable.Words are truly powerful and even God tells us how much he values them. Even the bible Bible as literature is truly honest and holds a mirror to the evil and good that is abound in the world that we live in.
I love words and I am so grateful for the breadth of words that I have had the privilege to encounter through reading. Words are my thing and I am so grateful for all the beauty and creativity that God has unleashed in the world through wordsmiths from different generations
So do you love words? Or are you more ‘less words more numbers ? Would really love to hear from you as today’s blog post was a bit different. It is called ‘ life thru my lenses’ so thought to share another side to me. So please leave your comments here and on my social media platforms.
If you are a numbers person you probably stopped reading halfway but if you are reading this it meant you stayed till the end so thank you. Really appreciate everyone who takes their time to read this blog.
Thank you again.