Although I fell in love with books long before I did with humans.
My relationship with books metamorphosed in 1993 after I came across the Pacesetters series which my parents kept in a box in a corner of their bedroom.
Published by Macmillan.
The Pacesetters series resonated with young adults as it had themes which varied from action, thriller, romance, and espionage among others.
Dominated by Nigerian authors, with a few from Kenya, South Africa, and Ghana, the books were a representative of what could have passed for the social media of today, reason being that it provided a rallying point for millions of young readers across Nigerians and Africa.
How on earth will I forget Kalu Okpi’s The Smugglers, Sunday Adebomi’s Symphony of Destruction, Joseph Mangut’s Have Mercy, Helen Ovbiagele’s You Never Know, Agbo Areo’s Director, Mohamed Sule’s The Undesirable Element, Ibe Oparandu’s The Wages of Sin, Dickson Ighavini’s Bloodbath at Lobster Close, Philip Phil-Ebosie’s The Cyclist, Sensenjani Lukhele’s Tell Me No More, Valentine Alily’s Mark Of The Cobra, Sam Adewoye’s The Betrayer, Victor Ulojiofor’s Sweet Revenge, and Yemi Sikuade’s Sisi among several others?
With about 130 titles in the series, the authors not only pumped adrenaline through our veins as we travelled through the brown pages, but it also created an avenue for several of us to express our weird creativity.
Will my children understand if I tell them that I kept a toy gun made from a piece of wood under my pillow for several nights while pretending to be a Secret Service Agent, all because I read The Equatorial Assignment where the lead character, Benni Kamba (009) took on the role of a newly appointed secret service agent of the NISA while risking his life to destroy an international Afro-Mafia organization that was trying to rule the countries in Africa by planting puppet Presidents in every state?
Will they ever understand the excitement with which our hearts thumped as we travelled the streets of love, betrayal, and reconciliation through the pages of Mbatha and Rebecca, Rich Girl, Poor Boy, The Bonds of Love, Ebvu my Love, Bittersweet, Love on the Rocks, and Forgive Me Maryam?
How do I explain to the younger generation that the brilliant works from these great minds provided a fountain from which we drank?
You see, just as I often wonder what must have happened with the Pacesetters series and all its exceptional authors, I can’t stop wondering what may become of Kaduna State if urgent steps are not taken to crush the raging menace of insurgency that is bent on making the State inaccessible by land, air, and rail.
The Abuja-Kaduna train bombing which took place on Monday, the 27th of March 2022, leaving 9 people dead with several others missing and injured, barely 48 hours after the airport was attacked by bandits is that which should get everyone worried.
I couldn’t help but shed a tear when I saw the photos of the casualties of that dastardly incident.
How do I explain to my children that this same Kaduna State which is constantly under attack currently plays host to formidable military institutions like the elite 1st Division of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Nigerian Defense Industry, Nigerian Airforce Training School, Nigerian Police College, the Nigerian Navy School of Armament, Kachia, The Nigerian Army School of Legal Services, Bassawa Zaria, the Nigerian Defence Academy, the Nigerian Army School of Artillery, Kachia, the Nigerian Army School of Military Police, Army Operation Base, Southern Kaduna and the Nigerian Army School of Infantry.
Just as I may not be able to explain how the Pacesetters series vanished without a trace, the problem of Kaduna State is that which a layman like me may never be able to understand, or proffer solutions to.
While we pray God to grant those who lost their loved ones in the train attack the fortitude to bear the loss, we hope that the government will do the needful to help restore peace and security to Kaduna State and the nation.
By John Olugbemi
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Olugbemi is a historian, creative writer and communications strategist. An avid reader with a passion for a system that works, he has consistently used his Facebook page to inform, encourage and entertain his friends and followers within and outside Nigeria.
A Google Certified Digital Business Developer, John presently heads the Marketing and Communications Unit of the Millard Fuller Foundation, an organisation with a vision to provide truly affordable homes to Nigerians who are in need.
His hobbies include writing, reading, cooking travelling, and jogging.
He is married to an adorable woman, and they are blessed with three beautiful daughters.