‘I DO NOT COME TO YOU BY CHANCE’- A REVIEW

Adaobi Nwaubani delivers a fascinating tale in her inaugural book I Do Not Come To You By Chance.

Set in Nigeria, this novel follows the life of Kingsley. A young Nigerian graduate of chemical engineering. As the first born of his family, all hope for better fortunes rest on him. However, a corrupt system of governance and esoteric job opportunities cast a huge cloud on his plans for the future.

His father’s sudden illness would steer him to his cousin in the city for financial help. There, he’d be introduced to the sordid world of economic fraud and scamming.

I Do Not Come To You By Chance is an accurate mirror of the Nigerian society. A broken healthcare system, mismanagement of poor resources, wanton systemic corruption and apathy make for a dangerous concoction.

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‘FIND ME UNAFRAID’ – A REVIEW

Find Me Unafraid is a moving story of loss, love, determination and hope. Kibera – one of Africa’s largest slums – would be the birth place of the most unlikeliest of relationships. It would be here that two people from diametrically different worlds would find each other and find love. Kennedy Odede from a destitute family in Kibera would meet Jessica Posner, an educated, middle-class girl from Denver. 

This book is co-written by the two. Each of them giving the reader their story from their vantage point. It all comes together towards the end, just as their lives have. 

Find Me Unafraid of love is one of those books that inspire you to do more, be more. It sends out hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved and motivation to the demotivated. 

Kibera stays at the heart of this novel. Kennedy Odede risks life and limb, countless times, in his quest to better it. Jessica finds herself enmeshed in this noble project and eventually takes it up as her own. Together, these two have retold the story of Africa’s largest slums, uplifting millions in the process.

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‘LETTERS TO MY DAUGHTER’ – A REVIEW

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Written by one of the most impactful authors of any generation, Letters To My Daughter is testament of the precocious quality of Maya Angelou’s intellect. Whereas she is a mother to one child –a son – Maya Angelou compiled life-long lessons herein for all women. For everyone. 

Letters to My Daughter is written in the retrospective penmanship of a life well lived. As she has done so well in her memoirs heretofore, Maya Angelou revists significant events in her life. From her upbringing in Stamps Arkansas, relationships throughout the years, insecurities, illustrious academic career and everything in between. She brings these events into focus and draws lessons from it all. 

With the unapologetic clarity so quintessential of her, she carries the reader vicariously through a myriad of subjects. Ranging from racism, divorce, trauma, sexuality, gender-based violence, faith and so much more. 

This book is a true gift. An encapsulation of a remarkable life characterized by wins, losses but above all, lessons. 

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‘WE NEED NEW NAMES’ – A REVIEW

Violet Bulwayo – the 2011 Caine Prize for African writing Winner – tells an intriguing story of heritage in We Need New Names.

Her characters have the most hilarious names – Darling, Bastard, Godknows, to name a few!

Set largely in Zimbabwe, this novel follows the life of Darling. A young Zimbabwean girl brought mostly by her mother. With the literary penmanship of Caine Prize winner, Violet Bulwayo tasks her characters with exploring pertinent societal issues. What with brain drain, racism, far-reaching effects of colonialism, sexuality and identity. 

Peppered with generous doses of humor and an undeniable streak of Africanism this novel is worth the read. 

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‘NO HIGHER HONOR’ – A REVIEW

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In celebration of International Women’s Day, I relished reading No Higher Honor, by Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Herein she encapsulates her distinguished career in Washington. She has had the honor of having served both Bush presidencies. First, as the White House Soviet specialist under President George H. W. Bush. A presidency  later as the National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under President George W. Bush. 

This decorated scholar and career diplomat carries the reader vicariously through her illustrious tenure in Washington. She writes in detail about her assignments and political undertakings. With the hindsight of a seasoned academic, she relives some of her most consequential decisions. 

All through, she makes a thorough assessment of her wins and losses. She draws succinct lessons from both her victories and challenges. 

Dr. Rice offers first-hand insights and wisdom for governance and leadership.

Dr. Rice is every woman!

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‘IKIGAI’ – A REVIEW

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Ikigai came about following a conversation between its two authors – Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles – at a bar in Tokyo. The conversation canvassed the trends on Western psychology. Specifically, logotherapy – a branch of psychology that helps people find their purpose in life. 

This conversation led them to interrogate the lives of the people of Japan. The country with highest population of the oldest people in the world. What is their secret to longevity and old age? The answer – Ikigai- “the happiness of always being busy”- thus became the subject of this book. 

Over a considerable span of time, the authors shadowed the lives of the people of Okinawa, participated in their customs and conducted interviews with the oldest among them. 

Ikigai provides the reader with both academic and social insights into living a meaningful life. It bears gems of wisdom from some of the healthiest and oldest people on earth concerning happening and vitality. It teleports the reader into the Japanese way of life, its teachings of healthy living, purpose and general wellbeing. 

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‘PERIOD PAIN’ – A REVIEW

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Dr. Kopano Matlwa weaves a beautiful, thought-provoking tale in Period Pain.

Masechaba, the main character, struggles to find meaning and self in a life full characterized by duality and contradiction. The duality of being African and Christian. Patriot and global citizen. Scientist and card-carrying traditionalist. 

Her life takes a dramatic twist when she gets raped by her people for advocating xenophobia. 

Through her eyes, we follow the struggles of reproductive health, the plight of doctors, racism and mental health. 

Dr. Kopano Matlwa has taken on rather intricate subjects and cut them down to size with ease and expertise. 

Period Pain is a gripping, engrossing and thoroughly entertaining novel. 

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‘THE HARD THING ABOUT HARD THINGS’ – A REVIEW

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How do you set up a successful tech-startup business?

How do you navigate the pitfalls?

What lessons can one learn from industry vanguards?

These are questions that Ben Horowitz, himself an industry vanguard, answers, and then some.

Ben has worked at Loudcloud, Netscape, Opsware and HP. He brings his experiences as a CEO and engages the reader in a dialogue about the hard things – Laying people off, selling your business, bankruptcy, work culture etc.

He reminisces on his past decisions while simultaneously casting insightful projections about the future in the tech business. All the way, he generously draws from his wealth of experience as an entrepreneur, CEO and now venture capitalist. The wins, the losses but more importantly, the lessons. 

As he says in the book;

There are no shortcuts to knowledge, especially knowledge gained from personal experience.”  

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‘THE SOURCE OF SELF-REGARD’

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Toni Morrison, one of the greatest authors ever, engages her readers in an intellectual dance with this book. The Source Of Self-Regard is a collection of essays, thoughts, speeches and insights by Toni Morrison. The last of her works before she passed on.

Herein, she eruditely tackles a myriad of topics ranging from race, politics, literature and our common humanity. 

With the surgical precision of a seasoned writer, her pen guides the reader to her inner most intellectual faculties. She recalls certain dates and events and what they’ve meant to her. The 9/11 bombings for example. In addition, she interrogates the influence that authors such Chinua Achebe and James Baldwin have had on her writing. 

 Unfiltered, unbowed, unyielding!

 Quintessential of this Nobel Prize Laureate, she is audacious, confident and unapologetically black!

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‘WE’RE GOING TO NEED MORE WINE’ – A REVIEW

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You know Gabrielle Union from shows like Being Mary Jane and LA’s Finest. Well, she’s also an author!

Have you ever had one of those intimately honest conversations that you needed wine to access your most vulnerable recesses? 

Yes? Good, then you’re right at home. No? Good, buckle up!

Gabrielle Union shares some of her most personal experiences with such inimitable rawness that you feel you are in the room with her. From her struggles transitioning puberty; her rape ordeal; insecurities; failed relationships; navigating Hollywood; and how Prince (Purple Rain) influenced her career. 

It’s your quintessential no holds barred, in-your-face, limitlessly talented Gabrielle Union with generous doses of vulnerability. 

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