Book Review: Her Roots by J.J. Lanji Ouko

A Nairobi Bestseller by a young Kenyan Author.

When I started reading “Her Roots” my very initial and genuine reaction was, “wow, this is different.” Different in the sense that this is a young lady who was going on about how her life was spiraling out of control in her University heydays. At first, she came off as very privileged and spoilt (I hope she won’t kill me for this), and her problems at that point were quite different from the ones I experienced when I was her age. She was practically living life under her own terms, making decisions as to what she wants and how she wants it. And not small decisions, we’re talking cross-border decisions.

When I got my delivery it came as a wellness package. With some bathing salts and some essential oils from Ajani Handmade. That totally made my day!

I moulded that pain into something I’m unapologetically proud of: my power and strength. We can only win after we own our decision of the past, and then we can gracefully move forward. Gradually, we learn so many lessons. Some lessons we are yet to learn the hard way, but for now, the first lesson is love for self. Despite being able to attribute my failure to a lot of external factors, it all boils down to me.

I kept thinking if I even anything as close to tried to do any of the things she had done, I would have been whooped a good one and then told to stay in the house till I can get my shit together. My dad never had time for jokes when it came to education and he made that very clear. Maybe it’s because of how much sacrifice he had made to take us through school, and good schools for that matter. So I grew up believing that there was no room for making mistakes, it was about making the most out of the 1st chance, because I wasn’t too sure of a 2nd chance. And I gave it my all then. The one time failed a course (which I hadn’t read for), I almost had a mini-heart attack and I promised myself that it was never going to happen again. My friend was teasing me the other day about how I was always ditching their grand plans to go home or to the library. I don’t remember being that studious though.

She writes in a way that feels like you’re hanging out with her and kicking stories. So I decided to read on, because I knew for sure the 1st chapter was just one phase of her life. We all have our own stories, maybe just in different contexts. And boy am I glad I did. She’s a real talker, no BS type of person and author. From the beginning she gives us a disclaimer that this book is her cry for help. That most books will explain how to do it, and why to do it, but “Her Roots” is a trial and error book, because she also doesn’t know how or why.

By digging deep into our roots, we can try to be happy and content not by what society has deemed happiness to be, but what each individual defines as their happiness.

I took a little longer than usual to read this book as I have also been going through my own emotional roller-coaster and I wasn’t in the mood to read. But I always carried it in my bag and when I got home, I placed it on my bedside, because I knew it had just what I needed whenever I was ready. I didn’t want a self-help book, I wanted someone also trying to figure life out, the same way I am. She literally questions everything that you would ordinarily question (but in your mind). Think it, she’s mentioned it in there.

She touches on issues ranging from body image, self-love, fun times, technology and social media, parenthood, womanhood, relationships and situationships, marriage, friendships, travelling, finances, career and business, and religion among others. She invites some of her peers and people in her network to share their thoughts based on some of the experiences they have had, which I found quite engaging and inclusive.

Every single day my timeline has no less than five posts about cutting out negativity, meaningless friendships, and relationships. But here’s the thing, how many actually put into practice those deep, powerful, inspirational quotes? Posting it is easy, but practicing it is the catch. Technology took everything from zero to one hundred. It was difficult enough to practice what we preach before, now we have to practice both what we preach and post.

I love how she subtly quotes artists (musicians, actors) and authors in her opening statements and in between, because she connected with what they were going through when they wrote that lyric or made a quip that captured her attention or that addressed the issue she was dealing with. It shows how much she’s able to pick things from her environment, put them into context and derive a lesson or two from them. Her personality comes to play through her wisecracks, which make up the topics of her chapters.

We’re in our twenties. You know, how it goes? Yes, no, maybe, I don’t know! Could you repeat the question? You are constantly stuck between who you are expected to be and who you want to be. Other days, it is between who they think you are and who you think they want you to be. It’s extremely ridiculous because, these two groups of “wants” can never seem to meet halfway.

Also, I found the fact that she runs a company called Crevit Mulier quite impressive. A lady’s only club whose objective is to build strong, independent, empowered and self-driven women. It targets ladies who are below the age of 30 (this makes me feel old already). In the book she describes a Crevit Mulier lady as the redefined Kenyan Renaissance woman. As she envisions a woman who cultivates pastimes they truly love, and constructive for that matter. A woman who knows the value of hard work and show it through their investments. She says,

Let’s be fun, wild and spontaneous, but let’s value ourselves, because I think the minute we value ourselves and nurture meaningful pastime activities, we can gradually learn to do everything else in moderation.

Overall, “Her Roots” is a raw, real, youthful and refreshing read. Especially for a young lady questioning why things are the way they are, trying to keep their head above the water; and looking for someone who understands what they’re going through without judgment, because she’s there, going through it. To think that I kept picking it up when I had absolutely no mood to read at all, and it made me want to still continue reading it to the end. She speaks your mind. She asks those pertinent questions, the ones you think and know in your subconscious but you don’t necessarily speak out.

Best read with a chilled glass of wine!

You can get the book at Adlife Plaza, 2nd Floor, Axlr8. Or you can WhatsApp 0706444443 for delivery. Let’s support our own 🙂

Stay Inspired,