12-Year Old Student Turns Author
In a country where illiteracy is sweeping the adults, including university graduates, off their feet, like a whirl wind revolution, seeing a 12-year-old girl writing a book will certainly look incredible and keep many people at the edge of their seats.
But that is the story of Miss Chimenem Nsirim, the daughter of a seasoned journalist and Director in the Rivers State Ministry of Information, Mr Paulinus Nsirim.
Her story may sound like a folktale considering the literary deficiency in Nigeria, and most especially the abuse of English Language by the nation’s young graduates.
For sometime now, Nigeria has been inundated with stories of poor performance in various examinations conducted by the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE), National Examination Council (NECO) and Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) among others.
The results recently released by NECO show 70 per cent failure in four major subjects, with English Language leading the pack in the June/July, 2011 NECO examinations. English language also recorded the highest percentage of malptractices in the examination.
Also recently, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) came out with embarrassing revelation that out of the university graduates, mostly First and Second Class Upper candidates, who sat for its assessment test, only 20 per cent scaled through.
Investigations have also shown that only 40 per cent of university graduates in Nigeria can conveniently express themselves in simple and correct English language. The rest can only flaunt certificates without the requisite knowledge and skills.
A top manager of the Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST) was amazed by the inability of many Nigerians, mostly young men and women, to write and post letters. According to him, most young Nigerians now write letters in abbreviated words and incoherent sentences.
Commentators have blamed this ugly trend on lack of quality education and the evolution of internet and cellular phones in Nigeria. Whatever the reasons are, the truth is that writing, which is the basic element of formal education is reaching its twilight.
It will therefore look like a mere fantasy to an ordinary mind that in a country where creative writing is considered elitist and where English Language is most abused, even by university graduates, a 12-year-old secondary school student is an author.
Miss Chimenem Nsirim, a 12-year old student has, however, proved skeptics wrong that age has nothing to do with creative writing. She took the literary world by surprise when she hit the publishing industry with a book titled “The Perfect Couple”.
If you ask her the dish she loves most, she may absently look up at you and holler, Play! This probably explains why she chose to write her first book, “The Perfect Couple” in a drama form.
As the title alludes, the play revolves basically around family institution. It examines the basic factor that can make or mar a family life, the challenges that go with it and the sense of responsibility it entails.
The Perfect Couple is a product of Chimenem’s careful observation of the robust relationship that exists between her parents. She pointed out that the ‘Three H’ guides she highlights in her book were learnt from her parents.
According to her, the ‘Three H’ guides which represent hardwork, humility and honesty, are sine qua non to good family life.
“I got the inspiration to write the play from my parents after a careful study of how they relate and settle scores without drawing the attention of a third party,” she said.
Born on April 21, 1999, the “Buchi Emecheta” in making, as Chimenem can be described, is a Junior Secondary School (JSS3) student of Jepthah Comprehensive School, Port Harcourt. She traces her writing prowess to the good foundation laid by her teachers at the Faith Baptist Nursery/Primary School, Port Harcourt, as well as the inspiration she draws from her parents.
Even though she dreams to be a lawyer, Chimenem sees creative writing as a compulsory act everybody must cultivate. She does not see it as a business that should be left only for the academics.
“Just as access to quality education is the right of every child, creative writing is a basic attribute of good education every child must imbibe as a culture,” she said.
One of the lessons she wants her audience to draw from her book is that continuous quarrel between parents have direct effects on the psyche and life of the children.
According to her, children whose parents quarrel often hardly pay proper attention to their studies, even when in school.
She therefore called on parents to guide their utterances, actions and behaviours at home, especially in the presence of their children because children are easily prone to copy bad attitude from their parents.
Her second collection of play “The Broken Home” is already a work-in-progress, about to hit the stand any moment from now.
On why all the titles of her books are centered around family institution, Chimenem has this to say, “My family background has given me enough concern and thought, hence the campaign for other families and homes to provide the enabling environment for their children to enjoy good life.”
She expresses hope that the two books will be a great source of encouragement to everyone in the society, especially those homes that are at the verge of breaking-up.
Considering Chimenem’s tender age vis-à-vis the thoughts and ideas that flow from her veins, The Perfect Couple and the yet to be debut The Broken Home pose a great challenge to those who may have turned a blind eye to creative writing.