I realized since a few months ago that I have a habit of opening too many tabs on my Google Chrome internet explorer. Everyone who peeped onto my computer screen while I work always wondered how I managed to concentrate on current tasks. My fiancée suggested that I most likely have attention deficit. In return, I argue that I have read enough reports that suggest that distracting oneself with stuff online actually led to efficiency. She has now asked that I limit my open tabs to ten. I have tried, and failed. Now I use Evernote to mark down some of the links I intend to read much later.
Today however, I recalled something that may be responsible for my interest in many things at once (much of them about politics, education, humour, literature, and news). Two words: my father. Thinking back now, I remember how there was always a room in every house we’ve lived in that has stacks of every current publication in Nigeria at the moment. Today, I remembered Prime People, Vintage People, Fun Times, Ikebe Super, Super Story, Vanguard, The Sketch, Newswatch, Daily Times, among very many others. Name it, we had every issue published, and they were always delivered by father’s vendor early in the day. Soon enough, the stack filled up a whole room. Literally.
It was impossible to be bored in an environment like that, and cartoon strips in the newspapers and magazines, and the continuing stories in legitimately fun publications like Ikebe Super, Fun Times, and Super Story sustained a literary interest for a very long time, long before it was eventually replaced with real literature, also from his bookshelves. So now, whenever I’m chided for opening too many webpages at once, I point back to the memory of a time when pleasure and work walked hand-in-hand while sitting on the floor of a living room with dozens of news and feature publications spread all around.
Sometime last year when an academic mentor in Ibadan asked if I had access to past issues of any Nigerian publications which used pidgin as the main language of communication, I immediately thought of Fun Times, Dauda the Sexy Guy, and Ikebe Super. He was working on a compilation of a comprehensive Nigerian Pidgin English dictionary. I have not asked father what he did with all his stack of past issues, but I assume that it will be a trip to return into the margins of those oldies at some point in the future, if they still exist. For now, new tabs and texts.