NCC D-G Asein calls for mental shift, makes case for visually impaired persons at WBCD 2022

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‘No gift better than a book,’ says ANA president, Ukah
‘…Give a book to a child around you’
…Amazon gives 10 books away in Kindle

By Ozoro Opute

MANY literary activities have been underway since the week began to celebrate World Book and Copyright Day today, Saturday April 23, 2022 and will continue till next week. From Uyo a glittering trophy donated by the Udeme Nana-led Uyo Book Club which will be won by secondary school students in Akwa Ibom State in a quiz and reading contest, to Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and elsewhere across the country, it will be all about books and how to make them available to communities that are starved of this modern civilization resource and getting children interested in reading books.
Although the general theme for this year is ‘You are a reader’, another variant of theme ‘Read… so you never feel alone’ has also added spice to the celebration, as books keep more than enough company for those who love and read them regularly.
World Book and Copyright Day or the International Day of the Book is organised every year by United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), currently headed by Audrey Azuolay as Director-General, and was first held on April 23, 1995. UNESCO selected the date 23rd of April as World Book and Copyright Day to pay respect to renowned literary personalities like William Shakespeare (English), Miguel Cervantes (Spanish), and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (Peruvian) who died on April 23. But the original idea was conceived in 1922 by Spanish writer Vicente Clavel Andres to honour and remember his fellow Spanish writer, Cervantes and it would gain global acclaim and ownership ever since.
In Nigeria and elsewhere, a lot of interesting activities are lined up by book enthusiasts – individuals, book clubs or associations – to celebrate the day by bringing the pleasure of reading books to young and old people alike. World Book Day is a day dedicated to publishers, authors, librarians, illustrators and readers across the globe.

President of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Mr. Camillus Ukah, in his special message on World Book and Copyright Day 2022 said there is no better gift than a book and urged everyone to exchange books, so the benefits of a better chance to grow through the knowledge rooted in book could be spread to all
According to him, “There is no gift better than a book. It inspires you in some way; it teaches you something good, it has something new to share whenever you read it again. Today is no regular day; it is World Book Day. Let us come together, exchange books, and read them to make it a more meaningful day for people around us.
“Those who read regularly will always have brighter chances to grow, as they have deeper thoughts and interesting ideas to share.
“A very Happy World Book Day to you!!!”
Meanwhile, the CEO of America’s World Literacy Foundation, Andrew Kay has made a strong appeal to individuals and corporate citizens to donate a book to a child around them this Saturday for an inclusive world where no child is left behind in the reading ecosystem.
“A love and habit of reading is the key ingredient to allow a child to reach their full potential,” Kay states. “Although in low-income homes, over 61% of children do not own a single book, we need to do more to bridge this literacy gap. The pandemic over the past 2 years has widened the literacy gap for children from low socioeconomic background.”
In a statement commemorating the day, the Director-General of Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Dr. John Asein, has said the theme for this year’s celebration aptly captures the importance of reading, noting that books are vehicles through which ideas are conveyed to a wider world.
According to Asein, “This year’s theme ‘Read…so you never feel alone,’ highlights the relevance of reading as an aspect of life that has social bearing on the individual and society. Books, like vehicles of ideas in the creative space, have been man’s endearing companion and a window to the world of knowledge, helping the mind to manage stress and expand horizons. As our own Wole Soyinka once put it, reading “enriches [everyone] as a human being” and enlarges our horizon on humanity.
“Because reading shapes and sharpens the mind, it is important that humanity is fed with wholesome materials that would in turn help the reader to contribute his or her best to the development of society. This is particularly important for our children as their fertile minds are daily competing with other channels of information and learning.
“Today, our children are more independent and interactive in a technology-driven world. As they exercise their power to select what to do, listen to, watch or read, their minds and tech spaces are turned into what Ngugi wa Thiong’o once described as the ‘battlefield on which is fought a continuous war between the forces that are pledged to confirm our humanity and those determined to dismantle it; those who strive to build a protective wall around it, and those who wish to pull it down; those who seek to mould it and those committed to breaking it up. . .’”
Asein argued that it was time African put a lie to their aversion to book, saying his agency was working hard to protect the intellectual properties of creatives to help them generate wealth.
“As the agency of government responsible for the promotion, regulation and enforcement of copyright, the Nigerian Copyright Commission recognises the importance of reading as the bedrock of creativity,” Asein said. “The theme for this year, therefore, underscores the importance of books to the acquisition of knowledge and as catalysts for national development. With other agencies and stakeholders in the book and knowledge industry, we must put a lie to the old stereotype that the best place to hide something from black people is in a book! To this end, the commission will be doing more to promote the culture of reading as a pastime for entertainment, enlightenment and education.
“As we strive to protect copyright, we should also be committed to the sustainable use of copyright products, such as books to promote the values and aspirations of society. In promoting respect for copyright, we must also strive to maintain a congenial atmosphere for creative enterprises to flourish.”
Asein also promised to revive Copyright and Creativity Clubs in schools to promote reading and respect for copyright matters. He also called on publishers to make books available for the visually impaired for an inclusive society where no one is left behind in the knowledge gap that books bridge.
According to him, “The commission is reviving Copyright and Creativity Clubs in schools to, amongst other things, promote reading and respect for creativity. Also, in the spirit of the Marrakesh Treaty and the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, the commission is also championing the campaign to allow more blind children have access to books and learning materials. We call on publishers to embrace this initiative and make more books born accessible for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled. The new Copyright Bill that was recently passed by the Senate makes provision for the domestication of the treaty. This further shows the Federal Government’s commitment to its policy of inclusiveness, equal access and non-discrimination against persons living with disabilities.
“As we celebrate World Book and Copyright Day, I enjoin Nigerians to embrace reading, support the creative industry and show more respect for copyright as a veritable tool for wealth creation and sustainable national development.”
Online book mart, Amazon, is celebrating World Book and Copyright Day by giving away 10 Kindle ebooks from around the world to celebrate the occasion organized by UNESCO. But to access this unique opportunity, you must have an Amazon account to download the books and a Kindle, Amazon Fire tablet or the Kindle app on a smartphone, tablet or PC to read them, but there are no any restrictions or special memberships (you don’t need Amazon Prime) required to download them.
The 10 ebooks are free through April 27, 2022. Like last year’s list of free ebooks, the titles truly are from around the globe, with 10 separate countries and various genres represented. And the books have all been translated into English. The 10 books include The Puma Years by Laura Coleman, The Ardent Swarm by Yamen Manai, North to Paradise by Ousman Umar, Where the Desert Meets the Sea by Werner Sonne, An Eye for an Eye by Carol Wyer, The Other Man by Farhad J. Dadyburjor, The Easy Life in Kamusari by Shion Miura, Mother Dear by Nova Lee Maier, To the Sky Kingdom by Tang Qi, and The Caiman by María Eugenia Manrique.

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