Inside Bayo Omoboriowo’s “Discover Nigeria”

The book, titled “Discover Nigeria,” is largely reputed for its beautiful images but, in reality, it is much more than that. It chronicles Nigeria’s peoples, its places, cultures, governance, leaderships and development.

The record largest photo book measures 7.8 metres by 7.8 metres (totalling 60.84 square metres or 654 feet² by 87 inches²) when closed. When opened, it is 15.65 metres on its horizontal breadth and 7.8 metres on its vertical length.

The photo book also showcases Nigeria’s rich traditional institutions, ingenuity of its people, beauty of its landscape, richness of its farmlands, stunning waterfalls, seas and dances among other beauties that can be traced to the beautiful country called Nigeria.

Although the big photo book, produced by the Official Photographer of President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Bayo Omoboriowo, has been officially tagged “Guinness World Record largest photo book,” it has, through its fine images, ripped open a country called Nigeria for foreigners and Nigerians to see and know more about the most populous nation in Africa.

The book highlights the lives of people and their cultures from the six geo-political zones of Nigeria, namely, North-central, North-east, North-west, South-east, South-south and South-west.

The 392-page book, though, is more than its beautiful images as it tells stories, factual stories, and share deep and knowledgeable insights about the past and present history of Nigeria and even sheds light on what a beautiful country the present day Nigerians have inherited and how much more beautiful it could become if Nigerians work for Nigeria.

In essence, Discover Nigeria is a beautiful and reassuring picture book about friendships across the Niger, inclusiveness and opportunities and or potentials that can be found and, with careful planning, exploited for the benefit of people in our country.

Set in a background of white, with a combination of colours, notably green, reminiscent of the Nigerian colours, Discover Nigeria is a huge book that warms hearts, makes the day and liberates minds.

There is no conflict in either colours or stories in the book. There’s nothing sad or scary or anything other than the joy of caring for and including all people to live in one and prosperous Nigeria.

Written in very simple and clear sentences, showing some of the best things about life and humanity in a universal and tender way, we learn from the book that the aim and aspiration of the author is to educate readers and bring Nigerians together.

Still, there is something so charming and lovely about this book that it is not only the Nigerians that want to read it again and again and again. Even after reading it regularly for weeks, the stories never get old and always feels like a welcome break.

The stories are short read that are perfect for when you are tired, easy for little ones to memorise (which they will do) and a perfect beginning reader picture book for older children.

In fact, last week, watching my eldest child read it to my youngest one brought me an incredible amount of joy and I am grateful they were able to have this experience together.

Discover Nigeria is, without any iota of doubt, an ideal book to read before bedtime for adults and children alike. It sends everyone off to sleep thinking of happy things, potentially great nation and wonderful and resourceful author.

Indeed, if you are looking for a gorgeous and meditative picture book about Nigeria and Nigerians that only portrays how goodness, kindnesses and love can propel a country to greatness – Discover Nigeria is an excellent choice. It is a picture book that gives the gift of perspective and reassurance.

This picture book, with its beautifully illustrated friendly faces and thoughtful portraits of people and places, is here to help calm the anxious and reaffirm the hopeful. It is a picture book that impresses upon us that most people want to be good, do the right thing and that we all want to see each other happy too.

Most People love to smile. Most people love to laugh. Most People love to see other people smile and laugh too, and the pictures on pages 140, 183 and 281 are eloquent testimonies to these facts. Nigerians are generally good people.

Discover Nigeria is a well thought-out and crafted picture book. You can tell that the author was inspired to put something out in the world to counter all of the attention that negative behaviours have, cruelly and unjustifiably, attracted to Nigeria and its people.

The book is a wonderfully diverse and inclusive picture book that, with dexterity and warmth, shows a wide variety of cultures, abilities, geographies and socio-economic situations of Nigeria. Discover Nigeria implores us to watch people’s actions, rather than their appearances, and to remember that most people, most of the time, are, in fact, good.

Discover Nigeria artfully re-centres a skewed perspective and calls to that part of you and your children that knows that goodness prevails. It is a lovely picture book that upon reading feels like taking a much needed breath and helps us to see things a bit more clearly about the Nigerian situations than we thought they are.

However, the most profound thoughts and ideas expressed in the book must, ultimately, be grounded on the reality of the human condition for them to be of any relevance or significance.
The dictum of Karl Marx that the point of philosophy should be to change the world, rather than interpret it becomes more important in this respect than in any other situation on the affairs of Nigeria and Nigerians.

Discussions are, rightly so, taking place in Nigeria about the situation of the country. The discussions are, especially, centred on the issue of governance structures, policy directions and the way and manner democracy is being practiced.

These discussions, in some cases, predicaments and discontents, have largely constituted the contexts of the stories and images in this book and proffers solution to the crucial problems confronting Nigeria today which have much to do with distrust, dishonesty and disunity.

Clearly, expressly and as a matter of fact, the book proffers love and appreciation for the country, its present and past leaders, and patience with one another as some of the solutions to the multi-dimensional problems in the country.
No doubt, understanding Nigeria’s current predicaments and looking for solutions to them will entail both the conscious and conscientious study and an examination of its present conditions based on factual assessment of the internal dynamics that have influenced its economic and political development over the years.

Thankfully, the book, Discover Nigeria, has critically, but mildly, through its wonderful and colourful images and poignant stories addresses germane concerns raised on how to understand the wonderfully blessed country called Nigeria.

Thus, it is with little or no wonder that the author, in accepting his recognition by the Guinness World Records, said: “Nigeria is a beautiful country with huge potentials and I’m glad our efforts in promoting Nigerian art and culture to the world haven’t been a wasted effort. Join us to Discover Nigeria, join us to birth a new narrative of a vibrant people and culture.”