My life in the bush of books – Okey Ndibe (Journalist/writer/teacher)

1. Favourite book ever – The Bible.

2. Why? It is an inexhaustible, multi-form treasure of a book–an anthology featuring numerous authors, containing heady verse, parables, cautionary tales, breathtaking drama, transformative memoirs, lore, history etc. There is something to hold a reader’s interest–often to keep a reader at the edge of a seat–whether the reader is a believer or not.

3. Last book read? ‘Tram 83’.

4. Packing for a journey and allowed to take one book. What will it be? I will forego a book altogether, opting instead to set out with a large notebook. Then I will devote myself to writing my own story.

5. Why? As a writer, the joy of writing my own book is​​​​peerless. This is not to say that writing is easy. In fact, the opposite is true. Writing can be quite challenging and frustrating. But the same is true of reading. The secret is to stay with it, to return to the arduous task with the most stubborn spirit you can muster. For me, the adventure of writing a book is powerful, in part because it includes the excitement of engaging in reading. You read the book you are writing, and write the book you are reading. It is a way of doubling the creative enchantment!

6. Who is your favourite author/writer? My favourite authors are oldies, ancestors gone to their rest a long, long time ago, but who remain present to us in a rich, vital and potent way. I would go with Shakespeare as my all-time favourite, even though Sophocles is, in fact, a deeper fertilizer of my own creativity.

7. Have you read any book on the 9mobile prize shortlist? Yes.

8. Do you think Nigerians read? The short answer is, yes, Nigerians read. Whenever I travel in Nigeria, I find individuals and circles passionately engaged in reading. I also know that too many Nigerians do not have the time or inclination for leisure reading. Some believe they cannot afford the cost of books, even though they spend fortunes on rather expensive cell phones, high fashion, and other accoutrements of modern life. Some are too busy trying to eke out a living that they have little or no time left to lift a book to their face. The irregularity of power supply, the malicious and relentless warfare waged by mosquitoes, the rat race for material accumulation, the absence of libraries and good bookstores, the ill-disguised disdain for intellectual accomplishment–these constitute impediments to reading in Nigeria.

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