Why Do Nigerians Have A Problem With Reading???

As a child, I used to hear the common phrase “if you want to hide something from a black man, put it in a book.” Some say, “write it down.” I couldn’t understand why black men should be thought of with such contempt. Beautiful, highly intelligent blacks, of which I was a part. Then I…


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As a child, I used to hear the common phrase “if you want to hide something from a black man, put it in a book.” Some say, “write it down.” I couldn’t understand why black men should be thought of with such contempt. Beautiful, highly intelligent blacks, of which I was a part. Then I grew up and realized that it was indeed true. It doesn’t necessarily need to be in a book nowadays though, it could just be a few lines of writings and you would still get disappointed.

So towards the end of 2016, I felt an overwhelming urge to celebrate my mom on social media . I mean, the woman had been and still is superb. It wasn’t her birthday. It wasn’t even mother’s day but I wrote something, more like an epistle, putting it up with her picture on Instagram. It wasn’t long after, Instagram notified me that I had some comments. I opened Instagram and saw the comment “Happy birthday mummy. May you live long for us.” to which I commented in return “Thank you dear. God bless you.” Then I started wondering where and when or what about the post had confused the person who commented. Nowhere had I indicated that it was my mom’s birthday and I had specifically said that I had only chosen to celebrate her but because this friend of mine had no particular likeness for reading, she hastily made a wrong assumption, thus, her comment.

I was on my own jejely this year, sometime before valentine, scrolling through Facebook when I saw that Facebook had notified a friend of mine that she had been friends with her mum on that platform for a year. Facebook and their notifications sha. Trust Nigerian mums now. She took their anniversary personal… LOL! My friend’s mum shared the post and made a comment praying for her daughter. Abeg, where did she go wrong? In fact, what drew my attention to the post was the comment I had seen, where my friend was wished happy birthday and like the FBI agent that I am, I took to investigating.

“Ahn ahn…but Simi’s birthday is in January”, I thought to myself. I was then forced, out of curiosity to click on the post and I found that again, it was an error on the part of the person who had commented. Just because she had failed to read. Rummer Godden was right then to say: “when you learn to read, you will be born again, and you will never be quite so alone again.”

Very recently, my very articulate Pastor, Timi Adigun put up a post about his delectable wife, Pastor Titi on Instagram. The thing about this post was that from the beginning of the epistle, it was obvious that he was just being sweet to his wife. It wasn’t their anniversary or anything special but he knew that he had married a gem. He even wrote that it wasn’t his wife’s birthday but she was a woman worth celebrating daily. In fact, there was a “P.S” after the post where he stated the exact thing. It was a nice post and was sure to get lots of comment. And like the amebo that I am, I read each one of the comments. It was fun, there were really deep praises about pastor Titi and my admiration doubled. But, what did I see not too long after? I saw a comment from one brother like that which said “Happy birthday, beautiful”.


I do not understand this. I want to ask. Is it that people automatically assume that once you upload a picture of a person, it must be the person’s birthday or is it that they just don’t take enough time to read? I prefer to go with the latter. I mean, it is embarrassing! Being African doesn’t equate us to being unlearned. Contrary to the opinion of Joseph Conrad and the likes who perceived us as barbaric and uncultured, we are an intelligent and sophisticated race both mentally, spiritually and academically. African scholars like Achebe and Soyinka have tried to pass this on through their writings, for goodness’ sake!

It is the same way students would claim to have failed because they did not see (couldn’t be bothered to read) that a particular question was compulsory and not the one they had wrongly answered in the examination hall. It is the same way you go on blogs and see people ask that others summarize the content of a post to them as it was too lengthy for them to read. Posts that aren’t up to two pages o! Haba, people!

I personally think that the advancements in technology shouldn’t be negative developments, but rather should be used as tools for more enlightenment. The average Nigerian doesn’t want to read. Once a piece of writing surpasses three lines, they think it absurd to go on reading, which is why many a youth have caused themselves embarrassment publicly. I wish I can succinctly write all that is on my mind but I will end it here. Just as Frederick Douglass put it, “once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” Freedom is what enlightenment through reading brings! Yearn to be free today.


  1. Morris
    Lol, I like the way this was written.

    I think maybe it’s a generational thing… + Is it really a big deal in schools? I would say No, and i have 6 younger siblings.

    1. OddMrB
      @morris I certainly agree that it’s a generational thing. The average educated folk in our parents’ generation read way more than we “youngsters” do currently. Schools need to encourage it even more – make literature studies compulsory, give books to be read with ultimatums, let’s make reading cool again. 🙂
  2. Butterflymind
    Early this year I posted something on Facebook about moving to Germany to further my education and how I intend to stay in touch with my friends after I’m gone. As always Facebook include the “see more…” tag for posts longer than a few words.
    Thing was, at the end of that post I wrote that everything I had posted was a lie but it was experiment to see those people who don’t read to the end before commenting.

    As usual there were more than a few culprits congratulating and wishing me success in my German endeavours.

    I was tired, man. So I agree, Nigerians need to spend more time reading to get more information, to understand what a person’s saying, to acquire knowledge etc., and not simply to have a response.

    Good one 🙂

  3. Monarkh
    So apt. I once posted a picture of my friend on Instagram where I clearly stated he is just a friend, nothing more, I even had to tag his girlfriend. Many of my friends messaged asking if he is Mr. Right. So much for the explanation I had to put up in the first place. People just prefer concluding than reading to find out what message the writer is passing across. Nice write-up Chachoo.
    1. Ayo Al
      Dups Dups! Oshey Maami…i saw that your post o. It was surprising to still see the type of comments that sprung up. …Might we say it was because the brother was so cute?? Thanks for reading dear!
  4. Tobbyofficial
    Well, I used to be like that too. I would read a post/an article half-way and just picture the most important part(end part) in my mind, what could actually be the end.

    Few problems lead to this.
    1. Repetition of posts.
    2. Half baked posts and cumbersome posts.
    3. Laziness on one’s part to enlighting oneself.
    4. Inability to capture people’s attention with interesting quotes, phrases in the write up.
    5. Readers/people don’t know the IMPORTANCE of information.

    “Reading” should be instilled at an early stage in one’s life, that’s when it becomes a norm, when it’s seen as something usual and expected. Once you do not have that foundation, it will eventually become a problem.

    But nothing stops one from reading and also getting oneself detailed about important things.

    I love the piece.

  5. Tesslah
    Tell you the truth typical Nigerians will definetly have problems reading all this… Nice post though. but i think Africans get bored easily and do not pay much attention to little details. And all this add up to the big problem we have here.
  6. Olubukola
    Nice piece!

    I think a lot of people have a very short attention span and are quickly moving on to the next thing. This is probably why you hear people say “Nigerians are always in a hurry”. So little details are overlooked, articles are browsed through and important issues become ignored.

    A comedian put up a video on Instagram last week where a fan brought her a cake just to celebrate her. She stated at the end of her very short write-up that it is not her birthday yet and even gave her birth date.
    You can imagine the loads of “happy birthday” messages she got as comments.

    If our generation and those behind us do not read, what can be done to change the tide for the coming generations, so as to break this circle?

    1. Ayo Al
      Thank you Bukola. You have asked a very important question. I think those who have the habit of reading, do so because it was instilled in them as children….when they were very little. At least I can speak for myself and some people I know… Let parents and teachers make conscious efforts about their wards. It might not be 100% effective but it would go a long way.
  7. Shola Cartel
    Nice write up. In fact as I was reading, I skipped 5lines and just headed to the summary before I realized that was what u were correcting and went back to it. It’s not our fault jare. Many blacks have learnt that d whole idea of school is sham and the society have so painted it that u only should read coz you are in school. So if school is d biggest scam, reading is never necessary. Thanks for the post. I hope a lot of people see this and change their perspective
  8. Nedoux

    I couldn’t have articulated this any better. This was a brilliant article.

    What irks me is that not only have they become too lazy to read, they become too cool to write too.

    Adults writing emails in what I’ve termed the “Millennial’s amputated lingo”- Ow r u ? etc. ????


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