Though an old expression, many have described the adage as a biased view on the reading culture of literate blacks while others believe it is a true reflection of their poor reading habit.
In this report, Correspondent Amechi Odo examines the views of residents of Ebonyi State on the issue as Nigerians join their counterparts to mark World Book and Copyright Day.
Apart from being used to promote reading culture across the world, World Book and Copyright Day also coincides with the death anniversary of some world literary legends such as William Shakespeare who died on 23rd April 1616.
Decades before the introduction of the event by UNESCO, many scholars in the western world believed that black people had poor reading culture hence the controversial axiom.
A Lecturer at Federal University Ndufu Alike Ikwo in Ebonyi State, Dr Azubike Ebokaiwe explained that the adage was subjective as the reading culture among Nigerians in particular and the blacks in general had improved considerably since the advent of the colonial masters.
“ Well, I don’t believe in that because, our academic culture right from the beginning has to do with reading and examination, so you can’t go into a written examination without having gone through the reading the materials”.
A Medical Doctor working at the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, Chike Okeke said though reading culture among Nigerians was evolving, there was the need for a reorientation of the public on the implications of relying on ICT devices for sourcing their reading materials.
“They are linked to the internet and social network, so when one attept to read with them, the person ends up just suffering the net and they end up not reading anything”.
Mrs. Uko Ngbo-Igariwey is a Library officer in charge of Public Services at Ebonyi State Library in Abakaliki.
“People who use the library are mainly students, and these students coming to the library is not like they come every day, some of them come because they have exams they are preparing for, but generally, readership is too low”.
On the way out, a student, Miss Jennifer Nwite explained that the future of every society was dependent on the intellectual capacity of the youths and advised parents to always encourage their children to read.
“The situation whereby you have a parent that does not have so much interest in education, the parent will tell you go and hustle like others, you yourself will lack interest in reading”.
It is said that a good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and still remains a friend.
So endeavour to read a book today and change the perception about the reading culture of the black race.