Inside Kirikiri prison where inmates find solace in reading books

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Kirikiri

Despite so many challenges that confront them in their confined and overcrowded living conditions, inmates of Kirikiri Custodial Centre in Lagos State are not giving up on their hope of being transformed into better citizens.

The Point gathered that one of the ways they want to achieve this is through reading books and education.

With the assistance of a non-governmental organization, Anchor Heritage Initiative, that has established a library for the incarcerated individuals, new doors of learning have been opened to the inmates who utilize their leisure periods in empowering themselves intellectually.

It was gathered that inmates’ motivation to acquire knowledge is growing while their reading culture has been improving.

Speaking in an interview with The Point after receiving 10 cartons of books from an NGO based in Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America, Nigeria Connects Incorporated, to enrich the library’s collection, the Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Anchor Heritage Initiative, Bidemi Oladipupo said “many inmates find solace, inspiration, and education through reading materials available to them.”

He explained that, “Inmates in Kirikiri do engage in reading books, often as a means of passing time, gaining knowledge, and seeking personal growth. While the extent of reading varies among individuals, many inmates find solace, inspiration, and education through reading materials available to them.”

Asked to rate the reading culture among prison inmates when compared to those who are free outside incarceration, Oladipupo said, “It is important to recognize that the reading culture within Kirikiri correctional facility may differ from those in the outside world due to various factors such as limited access to resources, restrictions and the environment itself.

“However, many incarcerated individuals demonstrate a strong desire to learn and improve themselves through reading despite these challenges. Our love for humanity has given us the ability to notice this and as well acted accordingly to this yearn for knowledge,” he added.

Giving insights to what motivates them to acquire knowledge, Oladipupo stated, “Several factors motivate inmates to acquire knowledge, including the desire for personal growth, education, and self-improvement. For many, the pursuit of knowledge offers a sense of hope, empowerment, and the opportunity for a better future.

“In Kirikiri, the inmates’ motivation to acquire knowledge is truly inspiring. We have fostered a culture of learning, empowering them with computer literacy skills. Many have even sat for JAMB, GCE and WAEC exams during their time here. Many have and are still currently enrolling for NOUN programmes. This success has sparked a newfound interest in reading among those previously disinterested and do not want to be part of it.

“They frequent our AHI ICT Library, devouring a good number of inspirational, motivational, coding books and novels. It is a testament to their dedication. Their reading culture has catapulted into a wide fire, which is giving us joy and sense of fulfillment as a not-for-profit organization,” he disclosed.

He further said, “We are thrilled to announce a partnership between Anchor Heritage Initiative (AHI) and Nigeria Connects Incorporated, a non-governmental organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Nigeria Connects shares our commitment to the development of humanity, with a wide array of interventions aimed at fostering growth and empowerment.

“Together, we are embarking on an inspiring project to upgrade the AHI ICT Hub’s Library Section at the Kirikiri Medium Correctional Center. This initiative will enhance educational opportunities and access to knowledge for inmates, empowering them to learn, grow and transform their lives. Through the generous support of Nigeria Connects, we have received 10 cartons of books to enrich the library’s collection. These books will open new doors of learning for the incarcerated individuals, providing them with valuable resources for personal growth & development in the hub. This partnership showcases the power of collaboration. Remember a reader today, a leader tomorrow.”