‘ON BLACK SISTERS STREET’ – A REVIEW

On Black Sisters Street is a moving story about identity, hard truths and self-discovery. Set partly in Africa and partly in Europe, Chika Unigwe’s story follows the lives of six girls. Initially, from disparate walks of life yet brought together by the vicissitudes of life. 

A need for a fresh start, the promise of independence, the tempting allure of a new chapter of life. A combustible combination that sees them all leave Africa for Europe. The death of Sisi, one of the six, provides a much-needed point of introspection to their lives. 

To go back home or to stay put and move on? That is the question for the remaining sisters. 

Chika delivered a thrilling, sobering and enlightening masterpiece in this book. 

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‘MY LIFE, MY LOVE, MY LEGACY’ – A REVIEW

What was it like being side-by-side and witnessing first-hand as one of the greatest civil rights icons of any generation fought for justice and equality?

How does one face so much tribulations yet still emerge from the fire stronger and with greater resolve?

How does one go from a discriminated, cotton-pickig, black girl growing up in the segregated South to dining with Head of States, Royalty and making an indelible mark on the world stage?

One name: CORETTA SCOTT KING. 

In My Life, My Love, My Legacy, Coretta Scott King tells her life’s story. She recounts her difficult upbringing growing up in racist Alabama, being openly discriminated against and finding her place in all the chaos. 

Coretta offers readers a front-row seat to her relationship with a young Martin Luther King. From her courtship, marriage, all the way to his fight against racism and injustice. 

More importantly, with decisive humility, she reminds readers that before she was Mrs King, there was a Coretta Scott and long after Dr. King is assassinated, she had a meaningful, impactful life. 

Her memoirs tell the story of a bold, once-in-a-life time- woman, who was knocked down seven times but got back up eight. It’s a moving, sobering, and inspiring tribute to a life well-lived, to honors well-earned. 

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‘ONE DAY I WILL WRITE ABOUT THIS PLACE’ – A REVIEW

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Kenya’s winner of the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing delivers a sobering account of his life in his memoirs One Day I Will Write About This Place. Bivanyanga Wainana was as multi-cultural as he was multi-talented. 

Herein, he recounts significant moments of his upbringing. He has seen it all – Daring despotism, a smooth transfer of power, rigged elections, civil war. 

Vicariously, he accompanies the reader revisiting these epochs in time. In juxtaposing these different zeitgeists, he offers a unique perspective on the intricacies of democracy, writing, nation-building and humanity itself. 

One of the hallmarks of his life was founding the Kwani Trust in Kenya to nurture and mentor writers who wanted to tell the African story.

Bivanyanga holds nothing back. He writes in a uniquely African, easy-to-read, inviting language. He tackles death, sexual assault, language, politics and so much more. 

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‘ALL ABOUT LOVE’ – A REVIEW

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All About Love is a marvelous piece of work written by the marvelously talented Dr. bell hooks. Herein she explores the subject of love. Its meaning, reasons for its elusiveness and ways we can retrieve it. 

Quintessential of her works she relates her themes with real life experiences. Drawn from her childhood, academic journey and romantic relationships, Dr. hooks adds that inimitable human touch to the subject matter. 

She is inquisitive, bold and unapologetic. 

Twenty one years later, the content herein remains just as relevant and as timeless. 

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‘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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