I have never met Raphael James in real life. Our paths have never crossed. I doubt if he is a rich man in terms of material wealth. I am not certain he has access to corridors of powers. Yet, Raphael James is a man that I respect.
Raphael is a man with a burning passion to change the society through selfless contribution and altruistic commitment. He is a man of ideas. He is a man of integrity. He is a man of sacrifice.
Raphael is the founder of the Centre for Research, Information Management and Media Development located in Lagos. The Centre operates a free Public Library and it is actually free. Many residents of Ikotun, Idimu, Eijgbo, Isolo and Okota have benefitted and are still benefiting from the presence of the library in their area.
I understand that he conceived the idea of the Free Public Library as an avenue to keep the minds of the youths active and to provide a platform for them to constructively develop their intellects. In an age where information is power, a free library is a like a blank cheque. It is a bottomless well from which a thirsty traveller could continue to assuage his thirst.
Recently, the Library as part of its community outreach project organised a daily interactive session with students preparing for JAMB Examination. The programme ran daily! It was free! Such was the impact of RJ’s inspiring efforts that in April, the Library was host to 117 students who wanted to make use of library facilities that could only accommodate 14 students!
Raphael’s life is a practical demonstration of the fact that you don’t need a public office to impact your community. His activities are simple, yet so impactful. To ensure that youths of his area maximize their talents and gifts, Raphael through his CRIMMD also organizes weekly Free Music Class. Yes, free Music Class. It holds every Friday and it is open to all, especially the youths who have passion and interest in getting into music. What constituency development project is better than this?
That’s not all. Raphael’s CRIMMD also operates Free Skill Acquisition Centre for Women. And it is also free. It is open to the public. Participants are equipped with professional skill sets to enable them set up small-scale cottage industries. The centre offers practical training in dressmaking, bead making, catering, soap production, ankara bag making and a host of other useful vocations. At no cost. Yes, as in FREE!
One of the things I have discovered is that people with the least give the most. If anything, Raphael James is generous. On regular basis, he donates books from his library to others who are desirous of setting up their own free library! This is one of the things he does to ensure that reading culture does not die in our country.
Raphael is a lover of knowledge. He lives his life for books. In one picture I source from his Facebook, Raphael is seeing burrowing into archives the way an engineer drills for crude oil.
He is also an author and a publisher. He is the publisher of National Biographer – a magazine that documents the life and times of notable personalities in the society. The magazine has featured Pastor Bilewu Joseph Oschoffa, Mrs. HID Awolowo, Chief Alex Akinyele, Prof. Dora Akunyili, Abiodun Opanubi, and a host of others.
In a nation where material wealth and political connections are the indices for measuring success, Raphael stands out as a unique character. If there is a gentleman that deserves a national honour, it is no other than Raphael James. If a nation is looking Heroes and Role Models for her youth, Raphael James is the ideal candidate.
Please if there is anything you can do to assist the vision of Raphael James, please contact him via his Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/drraphael.james. If you know of any honour or office that he is deserving of, please nominate him. Let us celebrate people of value! Let us celebrate people of ideas!
Let us celebrate Raphael James.
Images sourced from Dr. Raphael James' Facebook page