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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nigeria's U.D. Abdul Kareem: Encouraging Reading One Person At A Time

When it comes to the importance of reading, U.D. Abdul Kareem knows firsthand it can mean the difference between success and failure. The 33 year old native of Kaara vilage in Nigeria currently lives in Bonny Island, Nigeria where he is in the Nigerian Navy. In 2010 he celebrated the release of his debut novel AFRICAN COWBOY. He talks with Cyrus Webb of Conversations Magazine about hs life, his love of reading and what he hopes his book does to inspire others.

(As a member of the Shadow Play Entertainment family, U.D. Abdul has also joined the TAKE TIME TO READ campaign. See details at

UD, you come from a large family. How many brothers and sisters do you have?
I am from a polygamous family of 35. My father married four wives and had 21 males and 14 females. I'm the ninth of eleven children of my mother. I had eight sisters and three brothers.

Looking at your country, what population of Nigeria do you believe can't read or write well?
According to the current census by UNICEF, the Nigerian population that can not read or write are 57.1%.

How important is reading to you?
Reading is the only secret in which you can know others' intention, motives, feelings and information. I always create time to read books, newspapers and magazines despite the schedule of my life. Some information is entertaining while other is educational. I love reading. I believe more of what I read than what I heard. If you want to know what happened years ago or how to do something that is difficult for you to understand, go through books.

What made you decide to write the book African Cowboy?
I decided to write African Cowboy to share my experience with the rest of the world, which illustrates nagative view of gender discrimination, the importance of education and the terrible effect of illiteracy, especially to the developing and under-developped countries where education is regarded less importance. It's not my autobiography, but it's a true life story.

What do you hope people get from your book?
I want people to understand that female or male children deserve equal rights. No one is better than the other. The major character of the story "Bappa" mistreated one of his daughters and eventually as life goes on, he came to look for a job from her to survive not knowing that she is his daughter. She saved his life while he was at the point of death. If you train a female child she can equally do even better than the males.

The second message that I want people to get from African Cowboy is to bear in mind that the sky is the limit to the educated person, while illiterate persons have very limited opportunities. Illiteracy kills talents, dreams and creates inferiority complex and restrict freedom of expression.

What do you think people in the United States and around the world can do to help address the problem of illiteracy?
You know, the must difficult aspect of success is the first step, because the first thing you'll encounter at the first move is a challenge. That is where a coward would back off. It is only the hero that can face the challenge and conquer. What I'm trying to say is that someone has already made a move to fight this terrible epidemic {illiteracy}not only in the United states but all over the world, and that is Cyrus Webb. Mr Cyrus has already paved the way to fight illiteracy all over the world. All what we need to do is to give him a maximum support.

Governments and other agences such as UNICEF and the rest, should work together to achieve one goal. Something urgent need to be done to tackle illiteracy in the world, especially in African countries. We that are privileged to be literate can not fold our arms seeing others suffering without any effort to rescue them. It's a collective war. Let everybody contribute in one way or the other. If you can rescue only one person from illiteracy God will definitely reward you for that.

Thank you for the compliment, U.D. and for taking out the time to talk with us. How can our readers find out more information about you and the book.
You can go to my Facebook page at!/profile.php?id=100000209190857. You can find out more about the book and get your copy here:

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