Nigerian Fiction: Pacesetters Series...What happened?

I remember back in the past in Naija, the movies we watched mostly were foreign movies. Today we have Naija movies that get better (and at times worse) everyday.

In the past, most of the music that thrilled us was foreign music. Today we have our own music industry which has gain international acclaim.

In the past we used to read foreign novels (James Hadley Chase, Mills & Boon series etc) but along the line came our own novel sensations - the Pacesetters series (pictured above) which took everyone by storm. You'd see secondary school students as well as adults totting copies of these Nigerian (and sometimes other African) written urban pop-fiction series which ranged from Romance to Action thrillers. We loved them and they showed that we had a lot of talented pop-fiction writers here in Nigeria

These books were hot cakes back then and you saw them to buy at many bookshops then but over time they have disappeared and Macmillan doesn't seem to be publishing them anymore.

And people have gone back to reading foreign paperbacks. And people seem to read more of self help books or gossip tabloids today.

Why didn't the reading culture that seemed to explode during the pacesetters era stay on? What killed it? Could it be the coming of the internet and cable television?

Though lately there have been some revival attempts by some publishing outfits like Farafina books who are doing a good job of it. Also a new generation of authors are springing up with brilliant works all over the place. Reading session events are even recently becoming more frequent.

So should we be expecting that reading and writing culture to come back and storm the literate or reading populace like the pacesetters did back then? 

We've created our own music types and broken away from being hooked to foreign ones; we've opened up the channel for our movie industry to thrive and become a renown one that's now viewed on satellite, we have writers and books coming out again but have Nigerians embraced reading as they have embraced music and the movies? Or are these two countering the reading culture?

I long for book lines like the pacesetters series to come back; they were fun in those days and added value to students way back. I believe it will help develop our reading culture and give us a space to create what is proudly our own that the outside world can appreciate. Imagine these series being adapted to movie versions (that will contribute to better storylines!).

I can't forget classics like 'Mark of the Cobra', 'On the Road', 'Naira Power', 'Director!', 'Coup!', 'Sisi'...and the list goes on. I feel like reading some of them again. we had real creative writers then and a series that was very accessible, and a reading public that was grabbing them.

Who else was ever a pacesetter fan?

28 Screamer(s):

Anonymous said...

I am!

i was such a pacesetter fan, twas a competition to see who had read the most titles wen i was in secondary school.

African writers series is another good one... if only we can revive our love for reading...

God Bless Nigeria!!!

Sign.. Memories right there bruv... A friend and I have been planning to buy the entire series again.... If only we can find a shop to buy them though..

OOOOOOO, i soooooo missed the pace setters! fav was THE JUVENILE DELINQUENCY....can still remember bits of the story.... .*sigh with pleasure*

As for the reading culture, 2 main factors responsible;
1]children have no time since they are at school most of the day becox parents pay for extra lessons so as to keep them busy until they return from work in the evening. Is it a tired child that is hungry would have interest to read?

2]The t.v, games & internet had taken over the little time children have because it's just at their finger tips unlike my time when there was just NTA, LTV, CHANNEL 7, which opens by 4pm on weekdays & 12pm on weekends. so personally i kept myself occupied with reading which my dad encouraged with bedtime stories, then pace setters but i bought M&B by myself. But today, it takes me a month or 2 to finish a novel against 2days before! [pls am not exaggerating o]. I have the passion for reading that is why i still try my best to read, if not....right now am browsing abi? why am i not reading? *grinning*

doll said...

i remember the pace setters, the first one i ever read was evbu my love, then Christmas in the the time i was going to secondary school i had read over thirty. i vividly remember ticking off the ones i had read at the back (they had this long list of all the pacesetters at the back). i wonder what happened to them truly. sad

doll said...

they can be bought;jsessionid=154d0473e151572/shopdata/index.shopscript

but i think 5 pounds is abit too much though

Myne Whitman said...

I must be one of their biggest fans, miss them still and had to get a copy when I saw them for sale online. I was at a book festival over the last few days and Cassa Republic Press mentioned they will be starting a line of popular books soon. I may be doing same too, either wide range - pooling from Naija Stories - or just romance. Still on the drawing board for now sha...

LusciousRon said...

This brings back memories. I wish Macmillan would up their game.

LG said...

wow!!i rememba d wages of sin, so so long ago, yea wat happened to dem?? guess softsells took ova :(

btw there r still sum i hv'nt read like dealers in death, naira power, coup Egbon can u hook a sistah up *coughs* :)

*howz ur lil gal now, hope she's doing fine

2cute4u said...

I've actually wondered about where ever they did disappear to..
I used to pride myself on reading a majority or all of them but when I was actually getting their, they went out of circulation..
I didn't miss them as others filled the gap they left..
True and sad...your post..

Dee! said...

O yeah! I remember Pacesetters! I was a great fan back then!
Sweet memories!

seye said...

THis post should be called Nostalgic.

I mean apart from my Janet and John, I read pacesetters series die!

seye said...

THis post should be called Nostalgic.

I mean apart from my Janet and John, I read pacesetters series die!

Anonymous said...

i was a pacesetters fan,you forgot to mention evbu my love and too cold for comfort,wow thanks for taking me back to the good old days.

I remember reading some of the books in the Pacesetter's series back in the day! It's so sad that they disappeared along with the reading culture, due to economic issues. People would rather put food on the table, than spend money on books.
Now though, things are slowly changing. New publishers and new writers are coming up. With the renewed interest in Nigerian writing and storytelling, I'm sure it would only be a matter of time before we get another publisher willing to commission a series of contemporary young adult novels like this one. I for one, eagerly anticipate that! I might even write a few myself! lol.

PS: Merry Christmas to you and the family.

m1ke said...

o boy! you try for this post. I love am die. memories men...

Parakeet said...

I loved Pacesetters! My favorite was Sympony of Destruction or something along those lines. I wish they could be revived.

NoLimit said...

you didn't put the pix of my favourite:
Evbu my Love!!!
I remember "For Mbatha and Rebecca"
Used to steal them from my mum's collection when I was in primary school!
It will be nice to have the collection...
you just made me nostalgic!!! *sigh*

Hopefully the reading culture will pick up in 2011(Amen):)

Shar said...

wow...hey dude, surprised that you recognized my profile (blog). I kinda changed it to get away from the one that I will never forget who hurt me badly. I wanted to just erase all the pain he has endured and move forward from 2011 and hince forth. How are you?

AlooFar said...

Happy New Year boss ;)

How i loved reading those Pacesetters! My friends and I were always competing on who's going to read the most! They were fun to read!

In fact, hubby and I had this discussion last week! I found a copy – STOP PRESS! MURDER and gave a secondary school boy in my house, who is not remotely willing to read it. Then we started talking about what happened to the series, why hasn’t be a replacement. I can hardly find even a single Chase in town anymore… How I loved Pacessetters; For Mbatha and Rebecca, Bloodshed at Lobster Close, Symphony of Destruction, the Delinquent.. I can go on.

Anonymous said...

The cheapest place I found to buy and ship the Pacesetters Series books is

You can get the list of all the titles here,

Dayo said...

Wish i can get those books backs. I am starting my annual leave soon and hunt for them anywhere i can lay my hands on them.Made enquires in their company in Lagos and was told that they don't print them in Nigeria again except UK. UK office said there is a trade restrictions on selling and shipping them to Nigeria. Most annoying was that they only have 29 titles out of 130 titles in print at 5.70 GBP apiece. Wish we can do something like putting the books online for downloading even at a price.

Dayo said...

If anyone has any info on where the series can obtaining kindly let me know on Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Some titles from pacesetters series are now available online @ You have options of paying on delivery and can receive your purchase at any part of Nigeria.

Batabile said...

Wow!Guys you just took me back to the days when I was still a youngster.I read a lot ,especially the ones by Nigerian authors.That is when I came to know a lot about Nigerians,their tribes,cultures and lifestyles.I developed much love for Nigeria even though i never knew that one day i would ever set my eyes on Nigerians or the country itself.After the late tata Mandela was released,for the first time I laid my eyes to a Nigerian and I wana tell you I am now a proud wife of a Yoruba man.He is the best I can ever want in a man.All i read came in handy for I never had much challenges in getting along with him.From the onset,we clicked like we have known each other for a long time.Seeing Lagos for the first time was a dream come true,for I so longed to see the city in those days.I had a lot of expectations and was i happy to see all i read in thecbooks happening for real.I read about the overcrowding of people and traffic,people selling on the streets,okadas and keke napeps...I cn go on and on...!I wish the books were still available,for I know that some of the xenophobic attacks happening here are caused by a lot of myths concerning foreigners.Thanks

Anonymous said...

I had a friend whose father used to be in the bookshop business and you can bet I read all the pacesetters series on their bookshelves. My favourite back then was symphony of Destruction. I wish my kids can have access to these books

Unknown said...

Where are you pal.My father was in the booshop business in Zimbabwe.We were just crazy about the pacesetters.Irvin.