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Book Reviews With Oumissa 12: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Generational stories take more time and dedication. It is harder to tie together and make the dates, historical events and flow add up. When an author achieves this, the time spent is worth it because you don’t have to be doing the mental gymnastics.

Two sisters start life out on vastly different paths. One gets married to a slavemaster, the other is captured.And in this way, two genealogical lines are formed. This heartrending account follows the lives of their descendants across different eras and locations, tracking their journey. Each lifetime had a tumultuous event that drastically redirected their path in life in a major way.

No one forgets that they were once captive, even if they are now free. But still, Yaw, you have to let yourself be free.

They all remain connected not just by blood but by an indecipherable spiritual bond. So powerful is it that centuries after the forerunners , their descendants meet in a most unexpected of places.

The work of historical fiction begins in the Gold Coast when the intraAfrican and then transatlantic slave trades were in full swing. As it unfolds, positions change, fortunes dwindle, and expectations get shattered into splinters.

The branch that remains at home experience abolition, colonialism, a budding democracy and then migration to America. The other lives through the horrors of the dreaded voyage across the Atlantic, slavery and the variety of indignities people of colour faced.

Yaa adeptly describes the ugly moments and how slaves fought to hold on to the few moments of normalcy and happiness in all that bleakness. Abolition, the harsh conditions of the coal mines, racism, economic disenfranchisement give way to the drug era and finally an educated generation that is do close to getting equal rights as whites.

Through it all, we see love in its purest form survive the most arduous circumstances. Aku is that member of the family that’s the link between the past and the future. She binds everyone together and feels the experiences of the lost relatives she has never met. She has gripping visions of the dark past, holds tight to her customs and beliefs, lives to see the Gold Coast become Ghana and is so attached to Marjorie, her granddaughter helping her to recognize her past.

In America, the worst thing you could be was a black man. Worse than dead, you were a dead man walking.

There is a pervading sense of the supernatural throughout the book and many passages will raise the hair at the back of your neck. It is also beautiful to see how each character tries to pass down the family history to the next generation.

It was a gripping and fast-paced read.so graphic were the descriptions that you could feel how tight the slave decks were in the ship, could feel the claustrophobia in H’s coal mine, feel the self hatred Richard had towards his wife and child and feel that electric spark when Marjorie falls in love with her many times removed cousin. It is a splendid work in narration, vivid in its capturing. While the continuity isn’t great as one person’s story often ends abruptly leaving you wondering what happened to them, it is in all, a brilliant work that paints so well what black people still experience today.

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Amazons Helping Women Build Business Empires – Femfunds Workshop 2.0 Review

Femfunds, an organization which grows female-owned businesses by providing female entrepreneurs access to interest- and collateral-free loans hosted a workshop in Lagos this Saturday. ( Learn more here.)

Ushers with warm and non-plastic smiles welcomed you from the registration point all the way to your seat. Treating every attendee like movie stars are. This gave the impression I was going to enjoy this. The ambience of motivation emanated from the neatly arranged seats, hall lighting and 90s I-can-do-anything themed songs.

It is no surprise as Landmark Events Centre has a way of bringing events to life. And it was a delight to see the hall was half-full at about 30 minutes before the program started. Henceforth, I don’t want to hear anyone say Nigerians can’t keep to time. The workshops went smoothly for a number of reasons which I’d highlight as you go on.

Oh the joy of all-women panels! (You don’t see this every day.)
Line up
Tosin Durotoye – Consultant Strategist, TechAdvance.
Mo Odele – lawyer, Curator ScaleMyHustle.
Chika Uwazie – HR expert, CEO, Talent Base.
Oluwatosin Olaseinde – investor, Founder The Money Africa
Arese Ugwu – author, CEO Smart Money Africa.
Afua Osei – media entrepreneur, Co-founder She Leads Africa
Dr Chinny Ogunro – researcher, Co-Founder Africa Health Holdings

Video- Watch Afua Osei give an electrifying talk on building a digital tribe .

Content

Moderators set the tone for an event and Lamide Akintobi (award winning journalist and TV presenter) was remarkable. The speakers are young, accomplished women in fields ranging from real estate, academia, and health to law, sharing experience about career, family, and confidence and having the right attitude towards money. It was indeed a brilliant selection of successful Nigerian female entrepreneurs with local and global impact.

They held the attention of audience all through. Loud cheers reverberated across the hall to herald the presence of these women, who between them, have inspired millions for years via social media.

The talks and panels centred on the art of negotiating better deals and salaries, scaling business to global markets, pitching brands, investing in real estate, understanding money intricately and a short guide to digital marketing. Tasks were assigned, burning questions answered and free coaching sessions given out. It was an eye-opening session with every one of the attendees charged to implement these lessons in their businesses.

Food
Meal tickets were handed out at registration. After the talk, attendees went on a queue for food and drinks. The food was tasty party jollof and beef. The caterers did not forget the topping almost every Lagos woman likes- dodo. (Is there anyone who doesn’t like dodo?). It was a free event so no grand feelings of entitlement with the menu. But in all, the organizers provided a decent meal.

Souvenir

A beautiful book combining event agenda and a weekly planner. A blend of thoughtfulness, functionality and cuteness.

Convenience
This was neat and again reflects the great choice of venue. The restroom was clean, properly maintained by cheerful staff with everything needed present in abundant supply. It smelt so good that you forgot what it was meant for. I’m particular about this because dirty conveniences spread infectious diseases. And we all have attended fancy events whose planners forgot this important part.

Organization
There is a special type of beauty in time management. Two email reminders prior to the event urged attendees to be punctual. That is the kind of follow up we need more of. There was strict adherence to time allotted for each speaker. This highlighted the importance of rich quality content. Being able to effectively manage hundreds of guests is no easy task but rewarding when done to near-perfection

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In all, the impact of workshops like this is far-reaching. More young women need to be supported in their ground-breaking ideas. They should not think of themselves as extensions of anyone else but individuals with equal rights to financial independence and stability.

Imagine a world with more accomplished women in their twenties just as some of the speakers are.

It is possible.

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Were you at the event? Kindly share your thoughts.

-Oumissa