Monday, December 10, 2018
The Most Powerful Books in My Life
The 6 Most Important Powerful Books I Have Read
I cannot count the numbers of the books I have read since I started reading books of both nonfiction and fiction. I have read all of William Shakespeare in one big collection, most of Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Elechi Amadi, Isdore Okpewho, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Ben Okri and other Nigerian authors. I have read many books by English authors in my teens and twenties in the 1980s when we had a vibrant reading culture in Nigeria. Reading was a competition among Nigerian youths with the popular African Writers Series of Heinemann, Drumbeat Series of Longman and Pacesetters Series of Macmillan, including several books by Evans and University Press. I also read books by several African authors, including Camara Laye, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Steve Biko and others. Reading western novels of Harold Robbins, James Hadley Chase, Nick Carter, Barbara Cartland and others was a popular addiction for us. And presents of new books were among the best gifts we exchanged. I was known for giving books to girlfriends. Reading books also made many of us to start writing our own books, inspired by our famous award winning writers: Amos Tutuola; Prof. Wole Soyinka, the first black Nobel laureate in Literature; Chinua Achebe; Cyprian Ekwensi; J.P. Clark; Christopher Okigbo; Gabriel Okara; John Munonye; Mabel Segun, Flora Nwakpa, Buchi Emecheta, Nkem Nwankwo, Onuora Nzekwu, T M. Aluko, Elechi Amadi, Kólé Omotosho, Eddie Iroh, Isdore Okpewho, Festus Iyayi and others. Among the new generation of outstanding Nigerian writers, Ben Okri, the youngest winner of the highly coveted Booker Prize, published his first novel, "Flowers and Shadows" at 19 in 1980 and won the Booker Prize at the age of 32 in 1991.
I became a professional writer at 18 as a TV scriptwriter for the Puppet Drama series of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Channel 10 in Lagos and I was among the highest paid scriptwriters in Nigeria. I was the only Nigerian book illustrator exhibited in Japan in 1983 at two different world book fairs for children's books by NOMA/ UNESCO. Uche Bialonwu, the Editor of Kiddie Times magazine and author of "The Long Claws of Fate" published by Longman Nigeria in 1988 was the first publisher of my "Captain Santana" superhero comic series in the children's magazine. It became very popular and was reviewed in the highly esteemed West Africa newsmagazine in 1984.
I was already a national celebrity since when I was only 13 and I won the first prize in a national essay competition for secondary schools. Then I directed my first play at 17, "The Prodigal" at the National Museum in Onikan on the Lagos Island. I was featured in a full page interview in the Times International news magazine in 1980 by Henry Atenaga, a close buddy of Ben Okri who also published his own novel during the Golden Age of Nigerian Literary Culture. I published my first book, "Children of Heaven" at 25 and it was the talk of the town, launched at the prestigious Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) on Victoria Island, Lagos. The event was totally sponsored by me. The news was on NTA, read by the celebrated Ms. Siene Allwell-Brown, reported on Radio Nigeria, reviewed in The Punch and The Guardian newspapers. I was already a senior national Program Consultant for the United Nations' Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Nigeria at 25 after working as an Arts/ Features Editor for the Kiddies World magazine of Hon. Babatunde Ereola when I was only 24. We had our office on the 11th Floor of the popular Western House skyscraper on the Broad Street on Lagos Island. He provided a Toyota Land cruiser Jeep and a driver for me and was very proud of me. Through him, I met the beautiful and powerful biracial lady Tanya Hume-Sotomi, who was the wife of Brigadier-General Foluso Sotomi. He was once the camp commandant of Gen Sani Abacha who later became the military Head of State of Nigeria. It was at the launching of her novel, "The General's Wife" at the NIIA in 1991 that Gen. Abacha told the audience she was once his Oga "s madam and she sent him and other junior military officers on errands in the 1970s and early 1980s. Our love of books made Tanya and I close friends that her husband became so jealous and threatened to shoot me if he ever saw me in his mansion again. Did his threat frighten me? No. I visited her again and in fact I went upstairs to see her in their bedroom, because she was not feeling well enough to come downstairs to the living room. Tanya joked that if her husband had come back then, he would have thrown me over the balcony and I laughed.
Tanya also came from their residence in Ikeja GRA to see me in my lowly residence in Shomolu. She would scream my name, "Nelson!" from her luxury Mercedes Benz car parked by the roadside on Bajulaiye Road near the popular Morocco Bus Stop. I lived with my family in the Morocco Ville bungalow that also had other tenants. I was known as Mike Nelson Chima Eke in those days.
Reading and writing have made me what I am today in the world, recognised as one of the notable writers in Nigeria and among the change makers in the world as a startup evangelist for my own tech innovation, the mobile video app, iPost Nigeria shortlisted for the 2014 FIRE Africa Awards and promoting blockchain technology.
The first most important book in my life is of course, the Holy Bible I call the book of everlasting life. The others are Khalil Gibran's "The Prophet", "Resurrection" by Leo Tolstoy, "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu, "The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene and "The Mafia Manager" by V. These awesome books will make anyone have advantage over many things in the world as you wish. But I have refused to do so even when many of the possessions that majority of people use for bragging rights have been offered to me on a platter of gold and placed at my feet with money, power and women. I have chosen what most people don't know is indeed the greatest power of all, OBEDIENCE TO GOD.
~ Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima,
BOOKS BY EKENYERENGOZI MICHAEL CHIMA