By Morak Babajide-Alabi
The cliché “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is one that we throw around so often to fit any situation. But we rarely hear people tell us that we do not criticize a book by a preconceived perception. The latter is what we do all the time and which I ran afoul of recently when I came in contact with the book, “Retreat To Rebirth: My Story” by Ndidi Nkwopara.
When the book first came to my attention, I concluded without a second thought that this was one of the new crazes of self-publishing. I said to myself that with the likes of Amazon, becoming an author is as simple as ABC nowadays. Gone are the days when scripts have to go through “goggle-eyed” editors who rewrote and reworded sentences of authors before they were considered for publications.
That was a big mistake on my part. I was wrong on all fronts, as the book was not even published by Amazon. I judged the book based on my perception. I had initially waved it off. I thought to myself that if I closed my eyes I would easily imagine the content of the book. I visualised the cover, the quality, the font, the typeface. And above all, I thought I could, straight from on top of my head, from previous book experiences; reveal the content by the title.
Two days after the first knowledge of the book on a group chat, I became restless as I found myself reciting the title repeatedly. It started subconsciously and eventually, I couldn’t control it any longer. The title got into me. It crept into my consciousness and involuntarily I discovered the beauty in it. I moulded it around in my head many times and I started relating more and more to it.
After weighing “Retreat To Rebirth: My Story” severally, I became aware of how impactful the book could be. This is not an ordinary title. It is one that introduced a story and ended it on the cover. At that time the scales fell off my eyes and something ministered to me about the book. Why would I have been prejudiced to the prophetic title? It is a story of the rebirth of an individual that has been given up on or has been taken for dead.
I looked up the dictionary definitions of “retreat” and rebirth.”The definition for retreat says it is “an act of moving back or withdrawing” while for rebirth it is”a period of new life, growth, or activity; a revival. “First, you may think the title is contradictory, but on second thought you realise that the combination of the two words means a lot. Simply put, the author got a rebirth after retreating from the adversities that life had thrust her way.
A few days after these thoughts, I received the author-signed complimentary copy through my letterbox. I was delighted to have it. The cover was more illustrative than I ever imagined. The eagle on the cover soared to life as it beckoned to me to open the pages and read more. I flipped through and my eyes caught the subtitle in the introduction: “The Rebirth of the Eagle.” I love the eagle. Of all the birds in the air, I identify more with the eagle. I find it beautiful and spiritual.
Ndidi couldn’t have set the interest of readers alight more than the story of the eagle. I became more captivated as I sat down at the bottom of the stairs of my house. I could not resist the urge to “devour this book voraciously.” I was eager to dig out the treasure in it. I set my back against the wall and read the story of how the eagle reinvents itself. This, I think is an effective way to encourage the reader. As I later found out in a couple of minutes, the book is extremely compelling and interesting. Ndidi wrote: “… I share my story of how, like the eagle, I evolved, healed, survived and thrived by God’s grace and mercy.”
The book is produced in a simple free-flowing English Language. The author’s choice of words and literary construction are enormously impressive. The story is clear and straight forward and there is no ambiguity whatsoever.
I salute Ndidi for this book. It is customarily a laborious task to subject our private lives to public scrutiny. As human beings, we tend to guard, jealously, the aspects of our lives that may portray us as being vulnerable. We hide out feelings, our health challenges, and our journey through life. We most times narrate our stories to make us “super. “We do not want to be judged by others. But Ndidi breaks the mould, as she puts herself in the public space to inspire others by sharing “the lessons learnt on this journey to encourage women to recognise and maximise their potentials.”
What the author has done with the book “Retreat to Rebirth: My Story” is to bare herself naked to the world so others could be inspired. She successfully put her stories together to impart various lessons about life. We recognize the vulnerable side of Ndidi. From another angle, we equally see the fighter in Ndidi. The woman who says “no to adversity(ies)”,
Impressively Ndidi shepherds us on her journey. She masterly crafted the real-life stories without overlooking the focus of her ultimate aim – to teach. She “holds” the hands of the readers and leads them through her life. She introduces them to the various bus stops she walked on her journey to rebirth. Ndidi ushers us on, as we boarded the various car rides with her and the driver “seeking” male child fertility treatment. Ndidi subtly touched on the pressure African women go through merely to be accepted in a society where a male child is regarded as a sign of affluence.
Ndidi is not only a brilliant writer, but she is also a good fighter. For a woman who has conquered cancer, she represents an authority that should stand up and be counted. She shared some of her secrets under the subtitle – Faith And Healing Decisions. She lists them as living in forgiveness, healthy lifestyle choices, laughter and gratitude and helping others. She revealed her passion for life coaching services “was more for prevention: prevention of diseases, prevention of emotional and mental breakdown, prevention of financial crisis.”
One incredibly impressive part of this book is following Ndidi’s journey to becoming a Health and Wellbeing Consultant, a profession she engages presently. She revealed that her “passion was more for prevention: prevention of diseases, prevention of emotional and mental breakdown, prevention of financial crisis. This informed my decision to offer Life Coaching services to people who need it.”
She talks more on the belief of self as the condition of living a life of content. She wrote in “Retreat To Rebirth: My Story”: “Beliefs can be propelling or limiting and the only way of knowing is the level of satisfaction we have in the different areas of our lives. One limiting belief that affects the majority of people is the belief that they are not good enough. Psychologists refer to this chronic sense of inadequacy as inferiority complex, a long-term inadequacy that persists into adulthood from childhood and affects almost every aspect of one’s life.”
I commend this book to everyone. You will be inspired by the paths that the author treads while she retreated to rebirth.
The book “Retreat To Rebirth: My Story”, by Ndidi Nkwopara, is available to buy on Amazon and many reputable bookstores in Nigeria and overseas.
As written for the Diaspora Matters Column of Sunday Vanguard, October 6, 2019.