‘THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE GOT MARRIED’-A REVIEW

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Why is that when you meet someone new, the first few weeks seem to be full of bliss? You feel like you have met your soulmate, your better half, if you will. Then a few weeks into post-bliss, you feel like you made the wrong choice. Certain things that erstwhile didn’t bother you now seem to endlessly peeve at you. What happened? Was this really the right choice for you?

Why is it that we love each other but still fight? Why is that one time we feel like we have found the one but the next time feel like we need another one? Why can’t it be like in the movies where it’s love at first sight, we fight to be with each other, overcome our foes and walk happily-ever-after into the sunset?

Is religion really a big deal when it comes to relationships? Do his/her parents’ view on life affect our relationship? Do personalities really matter when we are in love? I know what I feel, do I really need a book to elucidate the obvious?

How do people go from having a lavish wedding full of pomp and fanfare yet end up in such a bitter marriage and eventually divorce? How can people who love each other divorce anyway?

Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the best-selling Five Languages of Love, explores all these questions and propose practical answers to them. He brings forth his experience from his own marriage of over forty years, coupled with years of couple counselling, and shares his insights. It is from these experiences that he shares with us things he wish he knew before he got married.

This is a delightfully helpful book for those already in marriage and working at making their marriages meaningful and worthwhile, those already in a relationship and looking to take it to the altar and those who are single and would like to build loving relationships. If any of these situations sounds like you, this is the book for you.

REVIEW BY AURA BILLY OSOGO

‘DEAD AID’- A REVIEW

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Ever wondered why after all these years of independence,  Africa is still writ large, not as developed as other parts of the world?  Where do all the billions of dollars in aid that are pumped into Africa go to? Ever wondered whether as a continent, we are insufferably irredeemable or whether we just haven’t found the key to the lock yet?

Are Africa’s woes exogenous to her? Why and how  can a continent be so rich in natural and human resources but contemporaneously have some of the highest levels poverty and mortality rates? How and why is the cradle of mankind still by and large, a developing continent when most of her ‘children’ have grown by leaps and bounds?

How did Malawi, Burundi and Burkina Faso, who just thirty years ago were ahead of China on a per capita basis, now end up appearing before  China with begging bowls? What can we learn from the meteoric rise of China from an afterthought to a global economic behemoth? What can we learn from India and Singapore on development? What can we learn from Germany and Japan who even after being ravaged by the malaise of war, somehow managed to recreate and reposition themselves as dominant economic actors?

Is aid really the answer to Africa’s problems? Is there something we are not seeing? Is there anything more to be done or do we yield to the fate of eternal damnation? Can democracy truly spur economic growth? Is that what we need at this moment in time?

Well, wonder no more. Dr. Dambisa Moyo, daughter of the soil, eruditely and systemically explores all these questions and offers solutions to them. She draws from the rich reservoirs of her Ivy-league (Harvard and Oxford) academic experience coupled with a stellar career record at the World Bank and  Goldman Sachs.

Finding a sustainable solution to Africa’s woes is the fire that burns within this author. What she refers to herein as the four horsemen of Africa’s apocalypse; corruption, disease, poverty and war. It’s more than a job. For her, it’s a personal quest.She draws lessons from the Asian Tigers, and juxtaposes our situation with that of Europe after World War II. She dissects the Marshall Plan, and traces the history of aid.

She compares and contrasts countries which have rejected the aid route and prospered with those which have become dependent on aid and have been trapped in a vicious cycle of corruption, market distortion and further poverty. 

Africa’s own daughter offers her dexterous and timely  perspective of how we got here, and goes further to postulate tried and tested ways to the economic growth which has until now remained elusive to the motherland. She offers an African solution to Africa’s problems.

#BLACKHISTORYMONTH

REVIEW BY AURA BILLY OSOGO

‘THE WIT AND WISDOM OF TYRION LANNISTER’-A REVIEW

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“Winter is coming!”

Don’t you miss those words!

If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, then you are as sad as I am that the series came to an end. George R.R. Martin, author of A Song of Fire and Ice (among many others) that was later adopted by HBO as the award-winning Game of Thrones series, may be of help.

In this book, he has complied some of Tyrion Lannister’s most potent one-liners. Yes, it’s a book on one-liners!

Here’s one for you as you explore many more;

“My mind is my weapon. My brother has his sword, King Robert has his war hammer, and I have m mind… and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge.”

REVIEW BY AURA BILLY OSOGO

‘YEAR OF YES’-A REVIEW

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If you are a fan of #TGIT, then like me, you LOVE Shonda Rhimes! She is the brains behind some of the most successful TV shows.  Among them; Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How To Get Away with Murder. 

This is the most honest book I have read this year! There are no grey areas (no pun intended). She’s forthright about her desires, aspirations, and most especially, her fears. She bares her heart out in this book. This book is conceived by six startling words from her eldest sister:

“You never say yes to anything.”

It is these six words that set the ball rolling on an intriguing series of events that culminate in one of Hollywood’s finest creators writing a book.

Picture this, an intelligent, chubby, extremely sensitive, introverted black girl in a white-dominated school. She doesn’t have any friends. How does she cope? She creates characters, gives them names, and breathes life into them. Indeed, as per her own admission, Shondaland began when she was eleven! Paradoxically, it’s her greatest fears that becomes her most valuable assets. For example, her greatest fear is getting Alzheimer’s. What does she do? She creates a TV show where doctors work to cure Alzheimer’s.

Shonda, the critically acclaimed, multiple award-winning creator gives the reader a front row to seat to the show that is her life. She candidly talks about her life, her loses and achievements. She discusses her views on marriage, Hollywood, her creative process, her journey of weight loss, family, and her stellar career.

This is a story of a how a black girl from Chicago, went from being insipid to being impossible to miss. How her decision to say ‘‘Yes’’ to anything and everything that scared her, tremendously transformed her quality of life. The story of a woman who is unapologetic about her passion for her work and her interminable reverence of motherhood.

It is the story of a black woman who not only wears her melanin like a badge of honour, shatters glass ceiling and makes sure she brings a lot more women up with her!

It is raw, inspiring and entertaining!

#BLACKHISTORYMONTH

REVIEW BY AURA BILLY OSOGO

‘WHY SHOULD ANYONE BE LED BY YOU?’-A REVIEW

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Ever heard of that primordial question; who made you leader? Well, here’s the updated version; why should anyone be led by you? In a world that’s swiftly and surely being disrupted by technological advances, financial and political crises, and an ever-widening knowledge economy, what worked for one zeitgeist won’t automatically work for another.

Why was Churchill so effective as a leader during the war, but not so effective after the war? Why do some executives seem to have the Midas touch whereas some seem to be doomed ab inito?

Is leadership an inherent trait? Are some people born to be leaders while others are born to be led? If so, says who? Is successful leadership contingent on dexterity, genetics, the milieu? Or is successful leadership merely a thing of serendipity?

These are some of the questions that Rob and Gareth tackle in this richly informative book. These two gentlemen have more than twenty five years of experience on the subject of leadership. They’ve been academics, consultants and leaders. It is this well of knowledge, first-hand experience and acumen that they draw from to answer this one fundamental question; why should anyone be led by you?

In the course of writing this book, they have not only interviewed the whole gamut of leaders; corporate titans, political leaders, head teachers, and music executives, but also the people they lead. All this in an attempt to come up with an eclectic, 360 degree view of leadership.

This book is timelessly relevant to all of us, since we are all leaders in one form or another. It’s a question that we must all keep asking ourselves lest we become dinosaurs and time does away with us.  As Rob and Gareth rightly posit herein;

“Discovering who we are is likely to be a lifetime process involving continued testing and learning, trial and error, and many twists and turns along the way. Every twist results in learning, and learning is always done in conjunction with others”

I was introduced to this eye-opening, soul-searching book by two exceptional leaders. The erudite David Kuria and the adroit, soft-speaking, and highly-effective, Crystal Rose. Thank you for placing this book in my life! It has opened new vistas that I erstwhile wasn’t aware of! May the two of you keep leading and inspiring us.

Question; why should anyone be led you?

REVIEW BY AURA BILLY OSOGO

 

‘DUST’-A PREVIEW

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Kenya’s Caine Prize for African Writing winner, Yvonne Adhiambo Owour, weaves a delightfully intriguing tale in her first novel, Dust. This fast-paced, helplessly-intriguing tale revolves around the life of Engineer Moses Ebewesit Odidi Oganda. It’s set in Kenya with scenes oscillating between Kenya’s capital Nairobi and her northern dry lands.

Odidi and his sister Ajany are sent to school in the real Kenya (Nairobi), which is a stark contrast from where they grew up in Northern Kenya. They bear the brunt of the joke of famine, emaciated breast-baring women and skeletons of livestock. They would however catch up quick and make a name for themselves.

Yvonne has employed the adroit use of flashbacks, symbolism and metaphors to tell a tale of Kenya. She dexterously explores the pertinent themes of colonialism, neo-colonialism, and corruption, the 2007/2008 post-election violence, political assassinations, extra-judicial killings, marginalisation, culture, and rot in society.

This book is refreshingly peppered with rich African imagery that obliges the reader to see themselves in the literary mirror. To question themselves and ask why things are the way they are. What role do I play in maintaining the status quo?

Not to mention the rich African wisdom laden herein. As you prepare to dig in, how about I leave you with this one from Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor:

Everyone has at least four secrets;

  • One secret can only be repeated to God.
  • The second is buried in between life and death, to be retrieved at the time of a man’s most important life decision.
  • The third is the one you sell to buy your oldest longing.
  • The fourth is the name you baptise your death with.

What are these four secrets to you?

Happy reading!

#BLACKHISTORYMONTH

REVIEW BY AURA BILLY OSOGO

‘THE DNA OF RELATIONSHIPS’-A REVIEW

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Have you ever had one of those nasty fights with your significant other that left such a bad taste in your mouth? You know, the sort of disagreements that leave you with such a heavy heart? The ones that make you question why you are in that relationship? The ones that make you feel like you can’t stand them?

Yes? Well, meet Dr. Gary Smalley, who until 2016, had been married to the same woman for FIFTY TWO YEARS!

In these fifty two years, his relationship experienced challenges and maelstroms. Yet, he and his wife found a way to deal with them and live happily in love till his death in 2016. This book is a culmination of forty years of marriage and thirty five years of being a marriage counsellor. As his title suggests, he explores the inner workings of relationships and gives his readers valuable insight and practical advice.

Being the month of love, it’s only right and loving, that we begin the month with a book on love. In Honour of the legendary Kobe Bryant, I will share eight lessons that spoke to me the most. I invite you to delve and discover many more lessons.

  1. “Life is relationships; the rest are just details.”
  2. “When people exclude God and try to navigate their own way through the relationship maze, we see much more fear prevalent in their lives.”
  3. “You are wired to need relationships. Even when they are hard, difficult or just plain frustrating, you need relationships. It’s the way you are wired. You have a longing to belong to someone, to be wanted and cherished for the valued person you are.”
  4. “Relationships are not an option. From the moment you are born, you are in a relationship with your parents. Soon, you’re in a relationship with other children. Later, you have relationships in the work place, and you develop relationships with close friends. And eventually most people develop a relationship with someone they deeply love.”
  5. “You are made for three kinds of relationships – With others, with yourself, and with God.”
  6. “Usually, the pain that another person causes you is coming out of a fear or insecurity you have about yourself.”
  7. “Effective communication comes down to listening and speaking with your heart. When people feel understood emotionally, they feel cared for. This is very different from listening to someone from the head – that is, looking merely for the content of the person’s words, without paying attention to the emotion. The goal of effective communication is to understand the emotional message of the speaker.”
  8. “Only when you recognize your own responsibility will you being to find a way out of the problem.”

Rest In Peace Dr Gary Smalley.

Rest In Peace Kobe Bryant!

REVIEW BY AURA BILLY OSOGO