Harry Potter. Orphan, neglected teen, myopic magus, messiah. Since 1997, across seven novels, billions of readers of all ages and races and both genders, all over the world, have stayed up by “atupa” or should I say wand-light (remember the incantation, “lumos”) to read about The-Boy-Who-Lived.
When the first Harry Potter novel came out, I was seven and in my fourth year of primary school. I remember watching the movie (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) while on holiday with my parents. It was my first experience at the pictures. I remember getting a haircut, while glancing anxiously at the clock in the barbershop terrified that we might miss the movie. When I saw the first Potter film, the audience was full of kids the same age as Harry, Ron and Hermione.
Eight years later, I find myself again nervously glancing at my watch on Friday night as I made my way towards the Silverbird Galleria for the premiere…. Traffic on Ahmadu Bello Way can be frustrating sometimes…. The film isn’t due to start until 6:30 but at 5.15 there is already a considerable queue. There are plenty of excited children, accompanied by their parents, but plenty of people my age too.
I roll my eyes at some of the comments made by the kids and make vague plans to go to Cubes afterwards because I am now twenty years of age and as a matter of principle, really should spending Friday night at Bacchus or Koko Lounge and Saturday morning feeling sick.
I would be the last to admit. In fact I will deny it up to my last breath, that I am horribly protective of the Potter series. I might get irritated when children scream at the sight of Nagini yet when Ron saves Harry from drowning or Dobby the House Elf makes his final valiant attempt to save Harry Potter and his friends at the Malfoy’s mansion, I am totally silent. This is not because the act is awe-inducing, but because these are our characters, our films, based on the books and craze that swept my generation. Today’s university students were still kids when the first film in the Hogwart series was premiered nine years ago.
Kids picking up the first Harry Potter book now will never understand the anticipation and yearning most kids at that time felt as we waited three years for the release of the next installment, or the sight of a silent football field or a basketball court because most of all spent our lunch breaks huddled over the new Harry Potter novel. I remember reading Goblet of Fire all night even though I had a mid-term exam the next day.
All good things must surely have an end. The end of the series is like a farewell to childhood. To say we grew up with Harry, Ron, Hermione and the rest of the gang might be clichéd, but then again there is no doubt that these characters were a great part of our lives. They taught us about love, family, about good and evil, but most importantly they taught us the true meaning of friendship.