As a child in what was then affluent Nigeria, my parents subscribed to various foreign magazines from TIME magazine and Newsweek to Africa and West Africa. And so every Monday morning, the newspaper vendor who came by on his motorcycle would bring that week's edition of these magazines as well as a raft of local newspapers and magazines.
Looking back now I realize that in that vendor and our relationship can be traced the story of the Nigerian economy. For from him zooming round on his motorcycle, he stepped down over the years as the economy deteriorated- first to a bicycle and then -to peddling his wares on foot. Similarly we stopped buying the foreign magazines and then reduced our order of local magazines and then stopped having him deliver, only going to the stand where he had ended up, and buying when there was something particularly newsworthy. Otherwise, as a member of the Free Readers' Club (the jocular name given to those that could not afford to buy but who would hover around newsstands browsing and copping a free read), I would hover around and browse....until one day, even free reading was banned and Vendor (as we called him) brought in a new rule......even to browse, you had to pay a fee.....
Why I am remembering this just now, I'm not sure, but it only serves to remind me how precious my 24/7 access to BBC and Nigeriaworld and all the other news outlets is, or should be.....
Monday, July 10, 2006
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I was a member of the Free Readers Club in Jos when I stayed there in Dec '04. I was there when the Tsunami occurred so if it hadn't been for that club I'd have travelled on for weeks in the West African bush not having a clue as to what was going on....thinking about it, maybe that isn't so bad after all.....aaaahhhhh memories!
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