UPDATE (March 21, 2014): the book is also now available on Jumia! Click here to purchase - all funds go to support the work ZODML does in local and state government schools. We were thrilled to receive this lovely review of ZODML's first publication from a good friend of the library (and past Book Pick author)! - Read on for Dele A. Sonubi's thoughts on Christmas in Nigeria: a Collection of Short Stories from Around the Nation. By error or divine encouragement, I had electric power supply for some hours at my house and while rejoicing, I scanned through some television channels and stopped, curious, at Silverbird Television to watch what seemed like an interesting programme. My TV programmes of choice are primarily news broadcasts: for international, CNN and Al Jazeera; and for local, Channels TV. But on this day I stayed tuned to Silverbird. There was an award ceremony: notable Nigerians (and some international heads of states) were being recognized for their achievements in the social and national realms. The themes of this award ceremony were a return to history and the promotion of reading culture. These themes were evident throughout the ceremony. Chinwezu, one of the foremost literary critics of our time, lambasted the history of Nigeria from the era of Lord Lugard, the Governor General at the time of the 1914 amalgamation of the North and Southern Protectorates. Chinwezu advocates for the re-writing of Nigerian history from a Nigerian perspective, as well as a representation of Africa originating from the owners of the land: Africans. He echoed the remarks of Kenyan Vice President William Ruto who, at the ‘Nigerian @ 100’ celebration in Abuja, insisted that “African histories must have a new narrative.”
Again, by error or by divine encouragement, PHCN disconnected the power supply. I was immediately inspired by one the themes of the ceremony and I reached out for my copy of Christmas in Nigeria: a Collection of Short Stories from Around the Nation which was published by Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries. I found myself engrossed and became pleased that PHCN had cut off the power supply because it gave me an opportunity to read this book which has been gathering dust on my reading table since December. The stories were so true-to-type and constructively precise that I was glued to the pages. I marveled and wondered at the creative ingenuity and technical expertise of the editors of the book, the sensitivity and competence required to reduce stories to such a short and understandable compilation. Now, those Nigerians who are addicted to Facebook, SMS, BBM, and WhatsApp will no longer have excuses for not reading books, since these stories are short and comprehensible. Libraries will no longer be a weird place with huge books and the incomprehensible vocabulary of Wole Soyinka; with this collection, anyone knowledgeable enough to read can walk in, purchase a copy, read, and encourage others to read and buy! There is a library — Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries — willing and actively interested in visitors and users to come and feed their souls with intellectual nourishment such as Christmas in Nigeria. The typical assumption made about short stories is that they are for children and youths. Reading through Christmas in Nigeria,I found out that although the book targets the youth, the stories include tales which reminds us (the elderly) of our lives in the village, and how such times were rich, uncomplicated, and filled with abundant natural joy. This book takes us through the histories and events which truly demonstrate our life, culture, attitude, and common joy. All the places mentioned in this book share similar experiences of fun in the celebration of Christmas. These stories do not simply describe Christmas in the villages alone, but walk us through the anxieties involved in travelling home, the pride of returnees, the logistics of having to navigate congested roads between cities and villages, broken-down jallopee cars and, of course, those anxious to show off their brand new purchases (even if the cars were actually borrowed for showcase). The stories also explore traditional cultures by narrating the great expectation of the egungun (masquerades) during the Christmas celebrations. This book is generously recommended to everyone who is anyone. The stories cut across all ages, and are great reminders of Nigeria’s rich histories and our intertwined pathways. The stories will expand the minds of the readers and offer insights into the celebrations of joy to the world across nations. This book is simple and educative, so students of all ages can read, understand, and even translate for their grandparents for fun-time sharing. This book reflects Silverbird‘s campaign for youths to return to reading and for histories to return into our academic or professional studies. Chinwezu might want to remove Christmas from our thoughts because it is an aspect of colonialism and mental erosion, but before deciding whether to agree or disagree with him, one needs to read Christmas in Nigeria. I sincerely recommend readers to buy one, read, and share with others as well as encourage them to do the same. Indeed, the task of getting this generation to read starts with the publication of stories that are familiar, short, and simple to read. Well done, Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries!