Don’t read for me

Who says the reading culture in Nigeria is dying? I’m wondering the empirical basis for that assertion. Well, I don’t think it is anyway, at least based on my empirical observation. But before you start asking me about sampling procedure for statistical analysis, I don’t have any. I simply deployed the tool of observation – in fact, participant observation. The observatory was the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos. It was the first day of a two-day conference and the time was 4.22pm, few minutes after a late lunch was served. The eloquent Mistress of Ceremony took the floor and introduced the next resource person who was to speak. He was a PhD, schooled here and there (within and outside the country) and certified in this and that – an impressive testimonial. I adjusted myself in my seat and waited for her to finish. While that was going on, the paper for presentation was distributed.
…Then our scholarly resource person mounted the rostrum. He had that very humbling look, quiet and unassuming. Then he began. Yes, he began.
He started out with the title of the paper, then his name, as written on the paper. Thereafter, he intoned “Introduction.” I waited, as he continued the first sentence, then the second. It was that moment you listen to a presentation, thinking that what is being read is a quote, hoping that thereafter the presentation would start. Without skipping a word, nor adding any other, he went ahead to the next section and continued. He was reading, actually reading each word he had typed. Word-perfect. My eyes ran through the eight pages of the material I had in my hand and I wondered what torture I was being subjected to. The torture was both psychological and intellectual. It felt as though my literacy level had dropped, that I could not read. I was wondering why we were not given the paper to take home and read while sitting in the restroom. Perhaps, email our questions thereafter from our smart devices and await a feedback.
As I scanned the hall, I could see some people dozing off, others bearing the torture in silence. I never saw a lecture that left people more excited on the finishing line. It was a relief. As I sat there, glued to my chair out of respect for the effort put into intellectual production, I wondered who said the reading culture in Nigeria was dying. I am yet to be convinced. I must admit it was a well-researched and written poster presentation, but I had no way of determining if it was his original thought. If only he had not subjected me to the intellectual abuse.
I walked away that day, wondering why the presentation was not produced into an audio book so that I could listen to it while driving. In my head, I spoke to the presenter, as I would any friend who is to make a presentation, a few words of wisdom: “please, don’t ever read for me. If you must read to me, then let it be a quote or poetry.”


1 Comment

Filed under Education

One response to “Don’t read for me

  1. I really can’t imagine what u guys must have gone thru… I couldn’t help but laugh tho…

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