I didn't grow up reading Nigerian literature. In fact, with exception of The Famished Road by Ben Okri, which I read part way when I was 14, and The Gods are not to Blame by Ola Rotimi probably around that same time, Nigerian literature wasn't a staple in my life. I didn't really get into it until I was 19 and it only happened because I wanted to learn more about my culture.
If I'm honest the first Nigerian book I read, wasn't even written by a Nigerian. It was Our Wife and Other Stories written by Karen King-Aribisala but as a child of a "Nigerwife" (foreign wife of a Nigerian) I find it interesting that that was the first book I decided to read. Our Wife is a collection of short stories about female immigrants (European and Caribbean) in Nigeria who feel like outsiders. There are also stories about Nigerians who marry into a different culture from theirs and also have to battle with cultural alienation and clashes.
It was then my love affair with Nigerian literature began. I read any and everything that could teach me about Nigeria. The books I read introduced me to a Nigeria I never knew or was exposed to. This is one of the many reasons why I love Nigerian literature, it helped me during a time when I was struggling with my identity to really understand and grasp it.
I am so glad I made that decision when I was 19 to discover my heritage and that books in their own way helped me through it. I'm still learning and like anyone who likes to learn I didn't want my knowledge to stop at only Nigeria. I also wanted to know more about Africa and other African countries - the history, the culture, everything. That is how I started another love affair with African literature. The one thing I am still clueless about is my Hausa heritage, but the same way books taught me about Nigeria is the same way they are teaching me about Hausa culture.