Last Day in Nsukka

by Dr. Michael Bitz / Oct 18, 2013 /
Dr. Michael Bitz's picture

I had the opportunity to visit two primary schools today: one public and the other private. In both cases, I saw the libraries, though not the classrooms. My guide was Dr. Meg Ngwuchukwu, who is on the professional staff at the Children’s Library at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The public school was at the end of a bumpy dirt road. Its library was in a compact cement building and featured small wooden tables and chairs. There were about five bookcases with books in a range of conditions. There was a class of approximately 30 students inside who were getting ready for a session of independent reading. They were excited to meet a visitor from the USA. I told them a little bit about who I was and the reason for my visit to Nigeria. They thanked me graciously for coming.

 

Classroom in Nigeria

 

The private school was back on the university campus. It was a much nicer facility and a better stocked library. The books were all in good condition, many of them Disney and Scholastic books that one would see in the children’s section of a library in the US. I didn’t meet any students there, but the staff members were very friendly and accommodating. It is clear that the public schools in Nigeria need a lot of support. When I return home, I am going to contact publishers and aim to convince them to send books to serve this important cause.

 

Creating comics in a classroom in Nigeria

 

In between the two schools, we visited a prison because of its library supported by the university. At the metal gates, a guard slid open a peephole to see who we were and then ushered us in. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous, but Dr. Ngwuchukwu was quite assertive about our visit and talked our way in. It was obvious that the guards were skeptical of us, but eventually they agreed as long as we left our bags and phones back in the car. The prison library was very small; its roof was held up by two large sticks. Interestingly though, it had a relatively large collection of comic books, which had been donated by one of the university professors. Then we walked through the prison yard to see an education class for a group of prisoners. I heard several calls of “Hey, Oyibo” (white man), but I just kept my head down and walked on. Quite an adventure, indeed.

 

hibiscus in Nigeria

 

The afternoon brought some more research papers and the close of the conference at the university. The Reading Association of Nigeria presented me with a beautiful plaque and thanked me for my work in Nsukka. It was sad to say goodbye to the many friends I had met over the past week, but I reminded them that I am working hard to return. Obi picks me up at 9 am tomorrow for our three-hour trip to Owerri.

 

Welcome to Nsukka Depot

 

 

To follow along on the journey, please see: The Comic Book Project in Nigeria

 

 

 

Dr. Michael Bitz is the founder of the Comic Book Project (www.comicbookproject.org), where he helps young people write, design, and publish original comic books as a pathway to literacy and creativity. He is currently in Nigeria at the invitation of the Reading Association of Nigeria and the Ford Foundation's Institute of International Education, and will be working with teachers and students in Nsukka and Owerri to help build creative pathways to literacy through the Comic Book Project.
 
 
 
All photos courtesy and copyright Dr. Michael Bitz