BOOK REVIEW: STUBBORN DETERMINATION

AUTHOR: MOKAYA OMWERI

REVIEWER: VERA OMWOCHA

PRICE: KSH 1,000

AVAILABLE AT: Amazon

0723132826; copernicusmokaya@gmail.com.

A highly private and memoir – is – the – last -thing -I – can- write kind of person, I have a lot of respect. I respect people who can share their stories. People who can serve their life in a 7 – course meal – triumphs, joys, challenges, heartbreaks, flaws, hopes and more hopes.

But I love how symmetrical humanity is; how we share these life meals; only on different degrees. And it is a nice thing to pry into people’s lives and see what life has served them; to see a whole community through one person’s eyes.

In Stubborn Determination, the author starts by introducing the reader to the larger perspective of turning 30 as a new stage of life and to any other young man turning 30. As a way of letting out deep-seated emotions and life experiences, the author resorts to penning down most memorable and influential moments of his life.

Through fragments of his life; mostly the lows and how they have shaped his perspective on life and influenced the man he is today, the author perhaps intends to create a hope in the reader in Lupita’s famous line, ‘it does not matter where you come from’.

This text has been stratified into different stages of one’s life: childhood; education (in different levels – primary, secondary and university); religious life, marriage, employment, entrepreneurship and the last chapter parting shot or birthday gift that he gives to 30.

Dear 30,

 You have finally gone through my Broken Parts of Life!

 I hope I was able to make you laugh at yourself and the things that you cannot change about yourself, like your name. I also hope that you now know the things to change in your life to avoid some of the mistakes and disappointments that happened in my life.

Many issues that affect him are well elucidated throughout the different stages; low self-esteem, the Kenyan education system- its loopholes and cost, poverty,  alcoholism, corruption, Christianity/ spirituality, Kenyan politics, marriage, entrepreneurship etc.

To tell a story is commendable; but to tell your story is even more commendable. That the author is not afraid to lay bare his shortcomings is exceptional especially in showing that ‘it is okay to have flaws but you have to rise above them’.

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The (mis)adventures that he gets caught up in especially in secondary school are intriguing; some laughable.

There are invaluable lessons that the author points to throughout the text. At the end of the text, the author gives a take away for the readers;

ALWAYS FOCUS ON PEOPLE’S NEEDS MORE THAN MONEY.

It also works an advantage that the writer is a good storyteller who engages the reader especially in the descriptive language.

At night, Keera (village) is lackluster. Apart from these few times when there is a full moon, Keera is very dark at night. By eight in the evening, apart from a few noises from the drunkards who get stuck in the murky roads from time to time, the whole village dies. If a man and his wife fight, in the dense of the night, every villager will hear every repulsive word that they hurl as they outclass each other in shouting.

Clearly, he does not struggle to tell the story. It also has the honest feel; he writes like nobody is going to read it.

“Those days, going to the posho mill was an event. If you left home at ten in the morning, the earliest you would be back was eight in the evening. Sometimes, you could wait till late only for the diesel to run out when it was almost your turn.

“Back then, if you wanted some respect, you only needed to carry a newspaper in a manner to suggest that it was current and you were the owner.

A current newspaper was only folded once. How you walked with the folded newspaper could tell if it was yours or not. Owners carried the newspaper using the left hand, confidently swinging it as they walked. It did not matter if you had a bag or not, a newspaper had to be carried separately.

Here’s why you need to read this story:

After I finished High School, I had tried to patch together a story of my life. I had wanted to write about my low esteem while in High school. I had wanted to talk about the challenges I had undergone carrying my bus-like head. How I avoided girls just because I could not trust if they would love my head. I had wanted to write about my drunkard dad. I had wanted to write about our beautiful but unlucky village. But every time I looked at my handwritten manuscript, I saw loopholes within loopholes in my poorly crafted story.

And because, “Being a man is not easy. Being a self-made man is even harder.”

And, it is hilarious.

My take away: Never give up on yourself.  

                            Do not wait to ‘make it’ to share your story.

(Perhaps I’m even inspired to take on that autobiography/memoir challenge :-)) Do it because it scares you.

It was a fun read, over to you.

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