I recall being involved in an accident during my service year. Fortunately for me, I got out without a scratch. I wondered what I would have done if I had lost my life or a limb in the process. Who would I hold responsible for that ghastly occurrence? Many people are not usually so fortunate.
Life plays pranks; it hits you and runs – hoping that the fear and feeling of loss will be a punchline. When you are at the receiving end of this prank, it is usually not funny. But then, at the end of the day, you’ll either laugh at yourself after the prank or get really angry at the initiator of such prank. Although you have the right to be angry, you will ruin the fun in the whole scenario when you get angry. This is the essence of Zahra Akomolafe’s short memoir, “The Journey”
Zahra Akomolafe, in her book, The Journey, tells her story of survival, courage, disappointment, frustration, and admiration for life. Just like the title suggests, Zahra brought to fore a concise, funny but emotional memoir of her journey from being a young dreamy young woman, to one who has to contend with the odds life throws at us.
In her short memoir, Zahra explores the intricacies of being a young Nigerian woman. From her courageous confrontation with a military man who vowed to brutalize her as a teenager because she decided to fight for her right, to rising from her numerous failures and to graduating from the University of Ilorin, her story is indeed a metaphoric journey – a journey that would not end anytime soon.
Our shocking experience(s) of life can change our perception of life. In so many ways, Zahra’s story gave her a new definition of herself. From the intensity and the playfulness with which she represented her story, we understand that life experiences made the young lady more mature. In the book, she shows the many ways life has humbled her.
Life, for Zahra, is not a teacher, it is a principal. Despite being deprived of the fun of serving her country in good health and having to be confined to a hospital bed for months, the sociology graduate tells her story with such unusual fun – in such a way that even a dying man can still find fun in living. She indeed validates the assertion that happiness is free.
A lot of stories go untold – not because those, whose stories the world is waiting to hear, are not willing to tell it, but because they are wearied by the perceived reception their story will get. I will, at this point, applaud the courage of Zahra Akomolafe in telling her inspiring story.
One full of trial and test, Zahra’s story is too enormous to be packed in a book. But she has made an effort in ensuring that we get a taste of the emotional cocktail she prepared for us in her 32-pages book. I don’t believe that her book did justice to her thought-provoking story. I believe that her story could be more voluminous, thought-provoking, status-quo-challenging, and life inspiring. Her book is merely an appetizer to the main dish of her life’s ordeal.
I believe, however, that our stories could be a potential version of Zahra’s story. It is important that the stories of accident victims in our country get told. The agony, disappointment, pain, and hopelessness this set of human beings endure during these trying times, and their journey to wholeness deserves the limelight. Zahra’s story is worth telling. Her story deserves attention and it will get a better opportunity to be amplified when you get a copy.
When you read the book, I don’t want you to sympathize with her – she is living her life to the fullest. Instead, look out for the life lessons in her documented experience. The fact that she didn’t mind reliving her traumatic experience and telling her story is a testament to the maxim that challenges are meant to be circumvented, if not overcome. In the words of Zahra: “The way you tackle and face these challenges will determine your out-come”
It is also important to point out the failure of the Nigerian society as regards her duty to its people. Nigerians generally need to change our mindset for us to have a better and less traumatized society. In Zahra’s story, you will observe how poorly Nigerians rate themselves.
Please reach out to her to get a copy via firstname.lastname@example.org. To know more about her, visit her Instagram handle @zahraakomolafe