2013's final session of the Junior Secondary School Reading Programme saw students visiting the ZODML Community Library to discuss Shehu Musa Yar’Adua: Neither North nor South, East nor West: One Nigeria with Jacqueline Farris, author of the book and director of the Shehu Musa Yar'Adua Foundation in Abuja. The students - who came from Akande Dahunsi Memorial and Wahab Folawiyo junior high schools - had each received and read a copy of the book (which was beautifully illustrated by Mustapha Bulama) in preparation for the session.
One Nigeria was written to serve as an educational tool, as well as to bring the story of Yar'Adua and Nigeria's history to a younger audience who did not live through many of the events which have shaped the country but feel their effects today, and inspire them to build on his legacy and protect Nigeria's democracy. Born in Katsina on March 5, 1943, Shehu Musa Yar'Adua played a vital role in Nigeria's political development; from his bravery as a soldier in the Nigerian Army (as well as the notable achievement of becoming Africa's youngest Major General at the age of 36) to his service as a civil servant and politician during the First Republic and constant advocacy for a united, strong Nigeria. After prayers, an introduction, and a light-hearted chat about what everyone was most looking forward to about the upcoming Christmas holidays, the discussion took a more serious tone as Farris asked the students challenging questions about the book, Yar'Adua's political activism, and Nigeria's history. The students were also full of eager questions about the proces of writing the book and how Farris, an American, came to dedicate her life to preserving Yar'Adua's legacy - a journey which began when she was asked to serve as a media adviser during the June 1992 election campaign. She shared funny and inspiring anecdotes about Yar'Adua, and read aloud from a moving letter he sent to his son a few months before he passed away in 1997 while in prison. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k58fZmQm1lc Towards the end of the session, a group of five students - Justine Lovina (from Akande Dahunsi Memorial Junior High School), Samuel Akubuike, Blessing Nnamai, Matthew Bitrus, and Victory Arinze (all from Wahab Folawiyo Junior High School) - had their written pieces based on the book shortlisted as the best from the group and read them aloud to the audience. Farris selected the strongest three - Justine Lovina, Samuel Akubuike, and Victory Arinze - and each of the winning students received a copy of Shehu Musa Yar'Adua: A Life of Service. All of the students who attended the session received gift packs with a copy of Cyprian Ekwensi‘s The Drummer Boy, a ZODML-branded T-shirt, and writing materials and, following a tour of the Community Library, were made members and invited to visit often to borrow books. [slideshow_deploy id='2704'] Previous JSRP sessions have played host to Ayodele Olofintuade, Mobolaji Adenubi, and Anezi Okoro.