Group moves to inculcate tolerance amongst children
National tolerance can only be achieved when inspirational stories across the country are told to children at a formative stage, the proprietor of +234Express, John Adoga has said.
Adoga stated this at the launch of an initiative aimed at exposing Nigerian children to inspirational stories from all parts of the country to inculcate in them a culture of tolerance right from their formative years.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Reading against intolerance’, Adoga said his team got the inspiration from the current situation of intolerance in the country, which is threatening the peaceful coexistence of Nigeria as one country.
“Political fissures are deepening and divisive ethnoreligious rhetoric is attaining fever pitch. We see an urgent need to shield future generations from the growing voices of hate and prejudice,” Mr. Adoga said, adding that one of the ways the organisation felt this could be addressed is through reading.
“For us, one way to roll back the current push towards division and violence is to expose our children to inspirational stories from all across the country; teaching them the cross-cultural similarities buried in our histories, in the histories of our heroes and heroines, as well as in our common experiences. Of course, we may differ in ethnicity, in tongue, in tradition, culture and belief; but we share the same timeless human values,” Adoga stated.
Quoting Lyndon B. Johnson, a former President of the United States of America, who stated: “A book is the most effective weapon against intolerance and ignorance,” Adoga called on both state and non-state actors – governments, religious and cultural organisations, politicians and well-to-do in society – to join hands together to shield the next generation from intolerance.
Adoga added: “This problem is not unique to Nigeria alone. Intolerance, hate and prejudice have been on the rise of late globally. In Nigeria’s case, however, other underlying tensions like the recurrent farmer-herder conflicts and an inexplicable unhealthy rivalry between North and South, are driving the populace towards the same precarious extremes that led to the unfortunate Civil War of 1967 -70. Surely, we can’t sit back and let history repeat itself. While adults bicker and brawl daily, the children are watching and learning. This portends great danger for the future unity of this country.”
Adoga said +234Express had kicked-off book donation drive since January this year in which hundreds of books from the Nigeria Heritage Series have been freely given out to various schools, libraries and book clubs in Abuja, Lagos and Kaduna through partners like the Bookworm Café, Lagos; Hope on the Streets Foundation in Kaduna; and the Abuja-based bookstore – Coffee Coloured Books.
He urged the stakeholders to key into the initiative by sponsoring as many sets of the Nigeria Heritage Series to make the books available to as many schools as possible across the country, including libraries and book clubs in localities.
The Nigeria Heritage Series comprises 21 full-colour illustrated children’s storybooks under the following titles: Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Uthman Dan Fodio, Jaja of Opobo, The Great Benin Empire, The Battle of Ijebu Kingdom, Kanta of Kebbi, Sango, and Olaudah Equiano.
Others include; Queen Amina, Bayajidda and the Great Snake, Queen Moremi, Margaret Ekpo, Queen Idia of Benin, Ladi Kwali: The Pottery Queen, Inikpi The Brave Princess, Hajiya Gambo Sawaba, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Mary Mitchell Slessor, Aba Women Revolt, Nana Asma’u and Oduduwa.
According to Adoga, all the titles, which are based on the history, culture, myths, legends and folklore from different parts of Nigeria, have been reviewed and recommended by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) for use in primary schools.