Books and Random Things

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I interview John Sibi Okumu in his house, up in his study which sits in an  attic, where the roof plunges and rises like a wave. His whole study is a woodland of books. Hundreds and hundreds of books on shelves, some in boxes, books bent away from us with their spines showing. I want to run my hand along those spines. There is one row on the shelf full of VCR tapes. I even see floppy disks in one box! A floppy disk! Seeing a floppy disk and VCR tapes these days is like seeing an extinct animal.

My voice recorder runs between us. His eye contact is intense, his words arranged in columns. A musical note.  Sibi is talking, talking and talking, but when the man speaks it isn’t exactly words you hear, it’s an audio composition. He says things like, ”Going out and mingling, that isn’t exactly my bag, I prefer to stay in and listen to Shakespeare,” and “I like to meet with my friends and just gas over a tipple,” and I’m jotting the words “gas” and “bag” down in my notepad. The first time I heard the word ‘prong’ used in a sentence was when I interviewed him eight years ago: “If you dissect keenly, the issue is pronged in these arguments…”

Anyway, it’s almost 3pm and I’m supposed to pick Tamms up from school because Tuesday is her ‘Junk Day’, because it’s Terrific Tuesday and the girl loves her BBQ Steak pizza. It’s also the time when I take opportunity to fish for information about any boys trying to get close to her so that I can hunt them down with Polonium. I don’t want to interrupt Sibi because we are on full throttle, but I also don’t want to keep her waiting because she is as impatient as I am, and I know if I keep her waiting for too long she will be all sulky, which means I will get monosyllabic answers in the car.

“Did you guys swim today, by the way?”

“No.”

“Oh that sucks, why?”

“Dunno.”

“The teacher didn’t tell you?”

“No.”

“That’s odd.”

[Silence]

What are other kids saying about your new water bottle by the way?”

“It’s nice.”

“Just nice? I think it’s fabulous!”

[Silence]

I interrupt Sibi and tell him that I have to make a quick call because I was supposed to pick my daughter up. I step out and call Mama Tamms, “I’m running late, I’m in an interview, if I pick up madam [she calls her that] at 3:30 do you think she will be very pissed off?” and she says, “Ahh, don’t worry, sometimes I even go at 4:15pm.” (Mothers get away with murder). So I finish the interview and drive like a maniac to school where I find her waiting in the shade with other kids, doing homework. Her socks are dirty as hell and her lips are dry. She surprisingly hugs me as I say, “I’m sorry I’m late, I was interviewing someone and my God that guy kept talking and talking and talking even when I told him, ‘Let me goooo, I’m going to pick Tamms up’, he kept talking and talking and talking…”

She laughs and says, “Who is he?” and I say “Oh, remember Simba in TingaTinga Tales?” And she’s like, “Yeah, was he wearing the outfit he was wearing that day?” and I laugh and say, “No, I made him remove it.” And she grinned and looked out the window and perhaps thought, “Jeez, my dad is strong, he can make Simba remove his mane!”

Anyway, thing is I keep buying Tamms these books but she just hasn’t picked up the habit of reading. I have bought books with big pictures, I have bought books with big fonts because someone told me to make it fun, but she still isn’t excited about books yet, but then someone else said don’t relent, bang on and on about books and one day she will pick up the habit.

“So, have you finished reading the book I bought you?” I ask her as we drive. The good thing with her is that she never bullshits me about reading, if she hasn’t read the book, she will say she hasn’t. Her answer, “I haven’t read it this week.”

I whine, “Why not?” and she says, “Because I had a lot of homework.” I don’t want to sound obsessive, hard or deranged so I say in a casual, friendly voice, the voice of an ice cream man, “Darling you have to find time to read even just a page a day, even before you sleep, OK? What did I tell you about girls who read?”

“They are intelligent and they speak well.”

“And what else?”

“…uhm, that they are confident?”

“Exactly, don’t you want to be like that? Will you try and read?” And she says yes, I then ensnare her by changing topic and saying, “It was so overcast this morning,” and she will ask, “What is overcast?” I will tell her what it means, only for her to forget two days later, so  I will remind her again and then ask her after another week, only for her to forget yet again. I will tell her what it is again then ask her after yet another week, only this time she will remember, and she will NEVER again forget what “overcast” means as long as she lives. Ever. Then I will introduce another word and repeat it again and again and again. By the time I’m done with her and she leaves for college she will have a head full of words. She will speak well and other girls will gather in her room and bask in the warmth of her brilliant eloquence, and when boys write her messages using words like “hae” she will block them promptly because ain’t nobody got time for a boy who can’t even spell a word as simple as “Hi.”

I’m a word voodoo wizard. I’m turning words into smoke and blowing them into her ears, filling her head with that shit. The other week she asked me what an ‘exhauster’ was and I didn’t know. Does anyone here know what an ‘exhauster’ is?  I guess now I have smoke in my head as well.

Talking of words and books. On Saturday afternoon, I found myself seated in a classroom with some children in Deep Sea Slums in Westlands. I bet you didn’t know there is a slum in Westy called Deep Sea.  On a bench against a wall sat about seven girls, dressed in brown tatters, no shoes on most feet, dirty knees but such eager eyes. At the end of the bench sat this half-dressed toddler, chubby and puffy, legs in rings, seated next to her elder, but still  small sister who was babysitting her. I was reading them a book called In The Land Of The Kitchen by Oluoch Madiang, a crazy book where sufurias fight with the jiko and the rolling pin and the spoons chant. Kids love it! As I read aloud, feeling like that guy who used to be on Kiini Macho, these girls (there was no single boy) sat there and asked questions like “What is to “sigh”? and I would sigh loudly and tell them, that is a sigh, can anyone try and spell the word “sigh” and someone would say, “it’s S-A-I” and I would correct them. This girl, this 9-year old girl would write them all down in this old dog-eared Karatasi exercise book. On a bench outside, a lady called Joan was reading to another group of kids. In the next room, Tamms and some other kids were taking turns to read to a group of other children.

I was surprised at the thirst for books those girls from the slums had. I was invited by a lady called Sonia and her pal Yvonne who started this children’s book club for their kids and their friends’ kids. They bring kids together every fortnight or so, where they meet and exchange books, read them, then write reports on what they read. Later, they are taken to that slum and they mingle and read to kids there.

It’s amazing what people do with their time over the weekend. I was like whoa, while most of us go heave ourselves onto stools and drink, some go to Consolata Shrine and read storybooks to slum children. And the effect on our kids is phenomenal because most of our children are entitled. Tamms asked me after we left the slum:

“Do those children have parents?”

“Of course, they do!”

“Why don’t their parents buy them shoes?”

“Because they don’t have money, Tamms. Some people don’t have money to buy shoes…so you have to be grateful for what you have.”

“What is grateful?”

“You have to thank God, that you are lucky.”

“So if you don’t have money you go stay in the slum?”

“Yes, kind of.”

Then she sits there in silence and says, “Do they have TV in slums?”

“No.”

“What about beds?”

“No, some don’t.”

“Where do they sleep?”

“On the floor.”

“With a pillow?”

“No, no pillow.”

Then she went quiet and for the longest time she didn’t say anything else and when she finally spoke, she didn’t mention that story again. There, I blow smoke and I blow fear. I’m the Dooms-king.

Earlier on in that week I had sat in another classroom at County Girls High School in Ngara. If you saw my Instagram jana I mentioned it. It’s a school that sits on a bedrock of turmoil; drugs, thuggery, poverty and all the ills that you can imagine. Often thugs getting chased by cops would scale the walls of the school and get shot right there in the playground. That was before when it was a mixed school, they decided to make it an all girl’s school, did away with the thuggish boys.

Before me sat close to a dozen girls from that school all sponsored by Ecobank. These are not all smart girls, actually they are average academically, but all of them want a shot at changing their lives. The narrative of where they come from is marred with pain, abuse, poverty, absent parents and a rich mix of confusion and peril. They are either orphans or from broken homes. All are from poor backgrounds.

If you are reading this while in your office wondering what, if anything, you can do to change someone’s life, there is a lot. Often it will only cost you two hours of your time a month but those two hours mean the world to these children. You can read books to children. You can donate books to children. You can offer to mentor children through organisations like Global Give Back Circle and KCDF (Talk to Melvine Chibole), and if you work in a bank, you can do what Ecobank is doing, don’t just pay fees, money doesn’t solve all problems. Be there. Listen. People just want someone to talk to, I have learnt.

There was a girl (orphaned)  who when I asked if she was happy said she wasn’t happy because she’s lonely, and when I asked why she said it was because she didn’t have any friends. She didn’t have friends because she doesn’t know how to reach out, and other girls thought she was aloof, so they left her, and she stewed in her loneliness, sinking deeper into herself, locking out the world. That girl made me a little sad especially when Jacquie from the Comm’s department of the bank, later pulled her aside for a chat and draped her hands around her shoulders and they whispered together intimately as women do, and she had that thousand-yard look in her eyes, lips drawn into a sad half-moon.

That girl needs education, yes, but she also need someone to talk to, like a mentor, a rock. She needs a hand on a shoulder, a whispered word of encouragement. Because poverty is lonely.  

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    1. When I was in schl, my parents pushed books on us (I hated it)and they’d insist on listening to what we had read. I didn’t like it cz it ate up my playing time, but later on in the years I hve come to love books so much! I cant lend them out to anyone, I relish in reading and I adore my books, i love it when I use a new word n someone looks at me like ‘what the heck does that mean…’. So…Don’t worry Biko, Tamms will pick up the reading culture and when she does, she will be a book worm. It’s good you’ve started cultivating it in her at a tender age, just keep pushing.

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        1. Thanks Njau. I read and re-read her comment and I just sighed. Stop shortening your words it’s annoying!!!!!

    2. My six year old son, threw in ‘aerodynamic’ in the middle of conversation! I thought it was a fluke and pressed for a definition, which he promptly gave and was correct! Needless to add, he’s the son of a jang’o! 🙂 But he’s not a bookworm as such but an ‘absorber’ of repute. Will definitely try the voodoo wizard approach! Thanks for that tip

  1. Then I will introduce another word and repeat it again and again and again. By the time I’m done with her and she leaves for college she will have a head full of words. She will speak well and other girls will gather in her room and bask in the warmth of her brilliant eloquence, and when boys write her messages using words like “hae” she will block them promptly because ain’t nobody got time for a boy who can’t even spell a word as simple as “Hi.”.. I will borrow and do this for my boy. Thanks.

    1. My sister lend em out! Those books mean the world to someone less fortunate than you. God bless your soul while at it

  2. Nys article.. Reading indeed makes girls confident. Would love to donate the two hours if tht makes a difference to someone

        1. I think it’s amazing that you offered your time, which is an important resource. You might say nys which is superficial but deep inside there is a lot of “nice”. So forget all the grammar nazis and continue being you, and if nys makes you happy, then please, shouting it from the roof tops

  3. That girl needs education, yes, but she also need someone to talk to, like a mentor, a rock. She needs a hand on a shoulder, a whispered word of encouragement. Because poverty is lonely.

    That last paragraph there carries a great deal of weight. Good job Biko, as always.

  4. That’s a nice read Biko. The things we take for granted right?
    I would like to volunteer for this programme so please advise on how to go about it. Thank you.

  5. In the end, they won’t remember who had the most Jaguars in their driveway. No! They won’t even remember who went shopping to China and Dubai every fortnight. Tehy will only remember chaps that made them feel good. Because people remember how you make then feel as long as they live.

  6. Hi,Biko I got the message. You buying your girl books
    reminded me of my late father. Growing up when my dad
    noticed I liked reading storybooks he registered
    me with National library service in Karatina,then I
    was in class four. He was a class seven drop out.
    He would collect magazines, newspapers and bring them
    home to me.He could not afford to buy me new books.

    1. I still go to Karatina Library to feel the nostalgic environment in the old library. I used to be there every weekend to read books since year 2000.

    2. Hi feli,
      I went to that library too and I remember seeing you there. That library
      sure helped a lot of us. So, where do you work nowadays?
      disclaimer: (pls note i didn’t type hae)

      1
  7. Very touching. And you conversations with Tamms are something else, always entertaining. Doing something small at my local church and yest it is really a good thing to give back to the society. It is never about money, can be a listening ear, time to read as you do. But I believe in always giving.

  8. “She didn’t have friends because she doesn’t know how to reach out, and other girls thought she was aloof, so they left her, and she stewed in her loneliness, sinking deeper into herself, locking out the world.” Wow.

    Tamms will grow into a very intelligent girl.

  9. Nice read. If only more people would volunteer more and/or higher education institutions just implemented a volunteer culture, the world would have few lonely, disadvantaged people.

  10. Good read. I always tell my students to read about anything. Sometimes it replaces this loneliness you talking about biko.

  11. Beautifully written,. very touching. I love to read and to also get books for school chidlren in my village. Question is — Where can you get children’s books with African stories? Kenyan stories? Things they can identify with? any leads would be appreciated. thanks

    1. Lillian, my husband and four year old usually buy some Kiswahili and African themed books at the University of Nairobi bookshop in Mega City, Kisumu. They cost roughly 200 per book but its Kenyan stuff, names and characters which you can’t get from the books in Books First and other bookshops. You might want to check in your nearest University of Nairobi Library.

      1. Useful feedback Ciiku, always assumed Text book centre has ‘text books’… but will now visit them ASAP. thanks

  12. Biko don’t force Tamms to read, allow her to fall in love with books all by herself. My sweetest memories are comprised of the times I would read books out loud to my dad and I would mispronounce so many words and he would correct me.
    I love that you took Tamms to the slums to interact with those kids because we are raising some very spoiled and entitled kids. Good work Biko, continue making a difference as you do.

  13. When I was in schl, my parents pushed books on us (I hated it)and they’d insist on listening to what we had read. I didn’t like it cz it ate up my playing time, but later on in the years I hve come to love books so much! I cant lend them out to anyone, I relish in reading and I adore my books, i love it when I use a new word n someone looks at me like ‘what the heck does that mean…’. So…Don’t worry Biko, Tamms will pick up the reading culture and when she does, she will be a book worm. It’s good you’ve started cultivating it in her at a tender age, just keep pushing.

  14. I am intelligent, I speak well and I am confident too. Tell Tamms thanks for the affirmation.
    Sigh. God bless you Biko for opening up your child to the rest of the world not just her four walls.

  15. I promise myself not to comment but always ends up doing so .
    1. I am so impressed at the reasons Tamms gave on what impact reading has on a girl
    2. Learning a new word over a period and promising never to forget ( my case of liaise )
    3. “Because poverty is lonely.” – I do agree . One time during a Inuka Dada forums , a girl in form 2 told me of why they engage in early sex and drugs. A man , way older most of the time, gives them the attention and since the fee worthless of any value to reciprocate, they are left with two cards; i) sex ii) Doing what the man does i.e drugs .

  16. Good piece Biko, its good to be in touch with the reality of slums, and that you are enlightening Tamms about it too at an early stage. My dad bought me books all the time and we went to a store in Westlands where we exchanged the ones already read, it was our father-daughter moment on Saturdays’. Keep Tamms reading but let her choose what she wants to read .. just direct her to inspirational reads.

  17. I want my 6 year old daughter to be confident,to speak well and to be intelligent. so as a challenge from this article i will but her a storybook at least once a month. I used to read alot alot and then i became addicted to series plus book villa closed sad huh! But you are right i will start reading again atleast a page per day before i sleep!!!! A note to thyself!

  18. There is a guy called Clifford Chianga Oluoch. Outgoing Deputy Principal at Oshwal Junior Academy. A man after God’s own heart. Helps slum kids with food, accommodation and education. This post is for him, so let me send it to him. He also operates with the kids in Deep Sea. You might have heard of Homeless of Nairobi? Yap. That is Cliff and Shamit and others.
    About reading, well, I don’t know man. I meet guys who do not read. They got tired of it in high school because it was mandatory and mechanical. Just like githeri. And it is sad that a reading culture is still lacking in Kenya. Well, not lacking completely, but it is not as vibrant as we can be.
    Good read son of soil.
    http://www.books.magunga.com

  19. ‘Money is not everything,family is very important’.they always reach out.man,Biko your writting is something,you just know how to stir humanity in everyone

  20. It’s always an inspiring and great learning moment to talk to young girls who are passionate about getting an education. Thank you so much for the info on who to talk to and organizations to work with, to give back.

  21. Nice read.Emphasis on reading can never be too much.
    Waiting to read about John Sibi Okumu…i have always wanted to

  22. “she will block them promptly because ain’t nobody got time for a boy who can’t even spell a word as simple as “Hi.” We all have that person who says that word and surely it pisses one off.

  23. It is contributing to a worthy cause in your own small way that makes the world a better place,be it a chapati forum or a visit to a childrens home. That small gesture is all that matters

  24. Biko, I’ve always wanted to do storybook reading for little ones – long story –
    how do I go about getting on-board?

  25. It’s thanks to the Kenya national library services that I developed a culture of reading keep insisting to Tamms the value of books KNLS allows children to be enrolled and borrow books from experience i know being in the company of other young readers motivates

  26. I always loved reading from a very tender age.It is one of those things that I really treasure and i really admire people who are well read.Reading as you said makes kids grow up confident and also as good speakers

  27. I’m looking at a post on fb, someone wrote on a girl’s wall “Mambowr mrexh” and the girl sent a reply.

    I’m contemplating on whether to block their asses or talk to them about seeking therapy. I know what Tamms would do tho

  28. Among my 2015 resolutions was to develop a reading culture. I had to force myself into it because I felt so shallow, conversing with my expansively read peers. I faked it till I made it. Right now, I live on books and would definitely fall in the category of the intelligent, eloquent and confident girls Tamms will grow into.

    And I am with Tamms on that. I think I got an allergy for wrong spellings. They give me goose bumps and I get the sensation in my teeth that comes when a soda bottle top is being dragged on a concrete floor.

    I want to meet the Deep sea girls. I want to make them part of my empowerment agenda.

  29. This story brought back memories. My mum couldnt afford to buy books so i would always pass by the local butchery and read all old newspapers,whether the stories are complete or not didn’t matter. All i wanted to do was read.I used my entire first salary to buy all the books I longed for as a kid. Needless to say, I’m a lawyer now, and reading still forms the best part of my life

    1
  30. Hi Lillian, I work at Phoenix Publishers and we have lots of lovely books with African themes for children. Most of our books cost between Ksh 150 and 250 (lower primary). If you’re buying many you can get a nice discount.
    PS: If you can remember books like “Beautiful Nyakio”, ” The girl who couldn’t keep a secret” etc, they’re from Phoenix.
    Email: [email protected]

  31. Kinda all over the place with that one. But not bad. Please give more details on the reading initiatives. I would really like to participate.

    nairobipedestrian.wordpress.com

  32. On a more serious note, its 2016, yaani there is no web developer who can give this site a facelift? We need to keep adding his articles to pocket to make the readable?

  33. Growing up, I had a thirst for reading, it was the only way i could escape, being introverted. I remember my parents never bouught me that mucch books as i would have loved. the few books i got i would read and re-read and re-read them over a hundred times. Th words would always be fresh everytime i read them again. The thirst for reading waned at some point, trying to get it back.

  34. hey Biko,
    I am inspired!
    Reading and instilling the love for books is what will enable us to live, through books, experiences which do not have to be undergone firsthand to learn from them. i am looking into a future where every city in Kenya has a library as one of its most treasured places and every home a library, no mater how small.

  35. Thanks Biko for reminding us once again to give to the unpriviledged in society. “To whom much has been given much will be required.”

  36. reading is knowledge and knowledge is reading i would like to join a book club and bring change to my fellow girls

  37. Dear Tamms,
    Listen to daddy. Even when he warns you off boys who try to make you laugh.
    Sincerely,
    Big sister from the gang.
    But then again, Biko, she will find her own path. Good luck in giving her a steady foundation these precious years.

  38. A nice read.. I like the reading activity you do in the slums maybe you can think of starting the same in kibich. There is an organization in kibera Polycom Development Project that deals with empowering adolescent girls. Maybe introducing this will be worth it.
    And tell Tamms to block those boys who cannot write English.
    “a girl who reads builds her confidence” I like that.

  39. Awesome! I will continue to use big words and explain. Meantime I will go to Consolata Shrine and ask about the Deep sea project for reading to girls. Asante!

  40. An exhauster is those trucks that carry sewage (sewerage) from compounds that have septic tanks but are not connected to the sewer lines

  41. I am going to try your methods with my daughter and other children every Saturday evening… see how it works out.

    I love how Tamms works you out.

  42. repetition and consistency works with kids.how else will it stick on a 2 week memory brain. Almost like 50 first dates every time we
    pick up a book for the umpteenth time .I’ve read winnie the pooh so many times I can recite it in my sleep .(and I do when queuing at the hospital to distract him )

  43. My mom after reading Ben Carson’s Think Big, started that two books a week rule. She registered me at Macmillan library and would bring home books that SHE would read to me…eventually I got into the habit that I would read without her prompting. In school, I made friends with other nerds and we had our very own Enid Blyton/Harry Potter club. Those nerds are still my friends to date!

    1. Kadonye can i join in?I’m a lover of books and i can get to exchange with the circle instead of buying all of them.i have a tiny library so we can swap with what you have

  44. The last two paragraphs had me really fighting back tears. We take so many things for granted.

    Nice piece Biko as always evoking my emotions.

  45. Nice peace Biko. My baby boy is 11 months and I bought him a book called Playful Puppy when he turned 9 months and he loves it! Although he does not understand what the story line is all about he loves turning the pages, looking and pointing at the colourful characters. Imagine he loves this book more than his toys 🙂 I believe it’s never too early to cultivate the reading culture in our babies.

  46. For sure….giving back is what we are called to do….a simple assurance to these girls that they have a fighting chance! love the storty Biko….na contacts jee??

  47. Awwwwwww. Reading is such an amazing thing to do. Thanks to my boyfriend, when i met him 3yrs ago while still in college, he inspired me towards reading more. These days we compete to read at least 2books per week. You should find us out for a picnic each with a book. It feels heavenly. God bless him. .

  48. Biko, sometimes you are funny, other times you are silly…and then there are stories like this one that are touching/moving/evoke emotions and a desire-no, a need to be involved in something beyond yourself and your own children. This is it!

  49. Awww…this is moving! Biko…as for Tamms – please read to her. Hear it from a Reading teacher. Fathers can have a far reaching impact on their kids in so many fronts. Choose her favourite genre and then choose a chapter book and read sections every evening for her. Reading out loud is powerful. Alternatively, go to http://www.storylineonline.net and listen with to online stories. This is a favourite site and my students love it!

  50. Biko, mbona una rumble? John, Tamms in school, deep sea. Just hit the point. Take time to plan your writing. Like you used to.

  51. I had the worst teenage years cuz my family never understood me.I was living away from my mum after my pops passed away and all these relatives did was talk and beat my spirit down.Biko am not looking for pity but it’s been the hardest trying to discover myself.Trying to silence all those negative voices but i have.Rather I am trying.I just got a job with a media house and I’m so excited about it.I hope I’ll make an impact with that chance.I hope i’ll encourage someone with that position.And oh you made me cry with Tamms’ story.Reminds me of my dad and i.Biko that man made me so confident.He used to ask me to read him a paragraph of a story everyday after school .People think i have a beautiful voice and i can make a great journalist and now that i have the job i can’t help but wish he was here to see the woman i’ve become.This achievement would have made him very veeery proud of me….I appreciate you Biko.

  52. An exhauster is a stinking but very neccessary beast also known as a honey sucker. Many are parked at Dagoretti Corner.I try with my son the way you try with Tamms and he just won’t read. Perhaps one day he will finish a book without being coerced.
    My Dad always read no matter how busy he was. Used to make us read the newspaper and Newsweek so he could correct our diction. All 5 of us love books as a result. He couldn’t afford to buy us books all the time but there was a library in school. Pretty sure I read about 80% of it. About volunteering, on to that website. Thank you Rosemary.

  53. I am keddo namba 116. The day CM stops numbering comments will be the day this blog ranking will stop. “Exhauster” means trying terribly to read the post first and be the first to post. Nice read though, there are better things to do on a weekend than perching on a stool and drinking. I am last so I get to sweep the class.

  54. Always love your pieces. I introduced this to a reader in South Africa. She says its epic&never misses a post…

    Just to veer a little, did the young doctor finally get a date?

  55. As for me I thank Mr okwiri. He one time asked us over half term to write 20 compositions. With the limited time I was forced to copy the compositions from story books and while doing this somehow ingnited my passion to read. I started reading from then on till high school. The rat race has made me lose that now I only do blogs. I need to get back start all over again.

  56. I discovered the culture of reading books way too late Biko, because there was no one to help me understand the power of reading in our rural area. You have no idea what transformation book reading can do to a kid. Any time I get chance to speak to young people, the first thing I do is to put them on notice on the significance of educating one’s self through reading. You may peek into this article of mine and share with many young people http://www.magazinereel.com/why-reading-is-magic/

  57. This is a very beautiful piece. I make it a habit to touch a child’s life having benefited from a kind heart myself!

  58. I know 1st hand what Mentoring can do for young boys and girls in Secondary school. I coordinate Mentoring at least twice a term to over 70 secondary schools in Coast region and the impact so far has been encouraging. Seeing them ask questions on Academics, Social issues or being happy that someone is there to chat with them JUST THEM. It lifts their spirits and to a certain degree their self esteem!

  59. Boss maybe someone has told you what an exhauster is up above (too many comments to read) but if not here goes. It is otherwise known as honeysucker, those big tanks which roll around town with a pipe on the side and are comparable to politicians being full of sh**.

  60. Beautifully written Biko. It’s great that we still have people who invest IN their children as opposed to investing FOR them.

  61. Now everyone is saying “nice piece”. I thought I picked 3 pieces.One about Sibi and his Library,one about Tamms and one on your CSR activities..donge!

  62. I have a daughter, she is almost six am i am lucky cos the girl loves to read. But i also know that the best way is to buy them a book, and read it with them almost everyday. Soon they will start reading on their own.

  63. So I’m reading this on Friday. Too bad. The thing is, the reading culture is dying. And lack of books is one factor. Here in Nigeria, you don’t come and ask dad to buy you a novel or a storybook just because you want to read it. The first question he will ask is, ‘Do you need it for school?’ And when you tell him that you just want to read it because you love reading, he’d look you keenly and tell you to go and read your schoolbooks. It is a pity.
    I blog at:
    mikeinioluwa.wordpress.com

  64. Omg, funny how I don’t take guys who say ‘sasa dia’ seriously Hahahaha they get so mad but surely just type dear it’s not too much to ask.Am selfish with my books woiye I can’t imagine sharing my library forever (Now I sound mean)but I can do better, maybe buy a child a book ecerytime I buymyself a novel.

  65. I have always loved reading! Any billionaire that does not have a revolving bookcase that leads to a hidden library is not using their money well!

  66. This has made my day ‘…and when boys write her messages using words like “hae” she will block them promptly because ain’t nobody got time for a boy who can’t even spell a word as simple as “Hi.’

  67. An exhauster is basically a ‘honey sucker.’ A lorry with a big, red tank behind the driver’s cabin that carries ‘political promises’, so to speak.

  68. Biko research shows that children become avid readers of they see their fathers , that’s right, FATHERS read. Do you read often? Kazi kwako

  69. Poverty is lonely….very lonely….Growing up my mum told me that the reason she wanted to be alone, was because if she made friends she would have nothing to offer when the friends came to her house

  70. Hi Biko, this is my first time reading your blog, actually i just toppled over it will googling ‘nothing’ on a Friday noon. Your stories are good and well said, I hope that one day I will teach my child to be and eloquent, confident boy/girl (am in the concept stage) like you. Keep up the good work. God bless

  71. Hi Biko, I’d just like to say…about the whole ‘Tamms not being such a reader’ thing… growing up, I hated reading…I would rather pick up a science textbook than a novel…and my mum kept buying me books and trying to get me to read…to no avail..but one day, I found a book I fell in love with and that was just it…i instantly became a reader. So, give her time…she will find that book that will just kickstart her reading and she will never look back.