7. Reading

“Ise ni ogun ise

mura si ise ore mi

Ise la fi n deni giga

Bi a ko ba reni feyinti bi ole laari

Bi a ko ba reni gbekele a tera mose eni”

My biggest regret on any travel is to forget a book or a magazine to read especially when we are airborne. Since we have to switch off our mobile phones and laptops, (the addiction of our generation), I try to find a book to read. I am the type of guy who goes to a city without hunting for any experience, I just shuttle between my hotel and airport but I love my books.

I think the best experience is found in reading not just jetting around the world. I could be wrong but seeing the Parliament Building in London does not excite me in anyway but to see the lines of Martin Luther King laced in the rock of his memorial, now that’s joy (am I contradicting myself?) I hope not.

Back in the days, my best place to read was in a BRT bus. I usually parked my car for that purpose, to read. In the midst of the stench, the collision of bodies, the cranking noise of the brakes…I struggled to turn the leaf of The Economist.

For me to find out something new like the other day I was reading about the Japanese temples and its imperial record across the Pacific…that was pure excitement for me. How about finding out why it will be easy to find a cure for Ebola and HIV has proven impossible or how Wole Soyinka writes humour in the midst of his arcane stories?

Let me share two experiences with you.

I wanted to serve with Access Bank and in the midst of the interview, a question was asked:

“Do you know about West Bank?”

“ Do you mean West Banking” I replied sharply

“I mean West Bank”

I was lost. I didn’t know what West Bank meant. Guess what? West Bank had nothing to do with banking. It is that area of conflict between Israel and Palestine. The interviewer just wanted to test my knowledge.

After I finished NYSC in Benin, I came back to Lagos to find a job. Awoliyi Babalola and I would walk around Victoria Island looking for places to work. Babalola told me to apply for a particular job at 234NEXT and I did. 234NEXT was the prime media organization set up by Mr. Dele Olojede in 2008 but finally closed down in 2012.

After narrowly passing (tough engineering questions) the 234NEXT test scoring 17 out of 31, I was asked to proceed to the interview phase.

“Now, how do I make up for the test when a friend scored 31 out of 31”

In that dimly lit interview room, we began:

“Before we start this interview, do you have a question”

“Yes”

“Go ahead”

“I want to ask you if this investigative organization gets its information from official government quarters since the Official Secrets Act has not been dissolved and the Freedom of Information is yet to be passed”

That was a question that unsettled the room but I scooped that reading at the Alex Lecture given by Mr. Dele Olojede (234Next publisher) in 2008, a lecture on freedom of Information. Note that the question had nothing to do with Engineering that I was to be employed for. It had to do with media freedom.

In the end, I did what I do best for interview, dazzle the panel, I really like interviews. I use it to tell my stories; I try to make it a conversation rather than an interview. Every time I go for an interview, my ultimate desire is to spread calmness across the room and take the interviewer to places that make him/her more curious.

Sometimes, I ponder on how an engineering graduate teaches folks budgets, procurement, oil transparency and creative communication with great zest? The answer lies in this one fact: The first element of knowledge is curiosity. To truly make sense is to read, that’s why I do it. I keep doing it. 

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