Book Review: My Journey by Teih Belinda Nungse

Book Title: My Journey
Category: Non-Fiction (autobiography)
Author:  Teih Belinda Nungse
Publisher: Page Publishing Inc.
Publishing Date: 2019

My Journey by Teih Belinda Nungse is a detailed “no holds barred” memoir of the author’s life from the age of four to the present. The motivation for this memoir is clearly expressed in the introduction, “The need to encourage and motivate the younger generation of women who give up trying when they face a storm; a teaching guide for the younger generation not to fall in some of the pits I fell in due to ignorance.” This motivation ties in with my own belief system that “every problem has a solution in a personal story.”

Ms. Nungse is not a celebrity in Cameroon, where she was born, or in the USA where she now lives, which makes this memoir so relevant and noteworthy. This is an ordinary person driven by circumstances to tell her story not just to her immediate community but also to the world at large with a fervent belief that it may benefit someone. This is a record of her life as she recalls it with names of people, places and dates. It is a daring act of selflessness and a testament of inner peace that only comes when a human being knows he or she has done his or her best no matter how imperfect.

Ms. Nungse was born in on April 6 1978 at the Elak health center in Oku, and she presently lives in Portland, Maine, USA.  This candid memoir is written in seven chapters each covering a major part of the author’s life from early childhood to married Life and the battle with miscarriages and Infertility.

The title of this memoir, “My journey,” is apt because her journey in many ways is still on. This is not one of those “rags to riches” autobiographies that provide the reader with a  final “feel good” experience after reading.  This is the story of a woman who is slowly adjusting to some facts about life. She has come to the realization that despite her intelligence and hardworking nature, she will have to live with the choices she made as a young woman in terms of relationships, and that she may never be able to get her own biological children through no fault of hers. While it may seem from her book that she has reached the end of her journey, that is not a fact. She is alive so her journey in this life is still on and another ending may be in the making.

From the first chapter focusing on her early years, the forces that will control her life are evident.  Although she was very intelligent and passed her exams brilliantly, she could not attend the secondary school of her choice. As she writes, “My parents made me understand the class difference in society and that I should never compare myself with other children because they (my parents) were struggling financially. I then understood why we worked so hard unlike other children who never went to the farm, got involved in with house chores or went to the forest to fetch wood.”

Ms. Nungse writes with candor that makes her story so compelling.  She does not call for pity and takes responsibility for her actions where applicable. Her writing is factual and bold. Her words are unchained even as they easily take control of the reader. She owns her story and her voice. Most African women have been silenced by patriarchy, tradition, and Christian religious values. Thus, her ability to speak her story into the written word is commendable. There is that element of a sacrificial lamb here—that person willing to take the bullets as long as one young girl or woman can be liberated after reading.

Although I was born, raised in Cameroon as the author, and presently live in the USA like the author, I have never met her and do not know her personally even though we recently became friends on Facebook.  Therefore, what kept coming to my mind as I read from chapter to chapter was this sudden awareness of how this story must be familiar to many women in Cameroon and other so-called third world countries.  The double bind of womanhood and poverty is a stranglehold on any intelligent and ambitious girl.  Each chapter in My Journey places the author in crippling poverty making it near impossible for her to accomplish set goals. It is a miracle that she not only earns a Bachelor’s degree but goes on to earn a couple of graduate degrees and rises to the position of Director  in the public service of Cameroon.  Yes, it takes a village to raise a child, but it becomes a nightmare for any child when that proverbial village is dysfunctional.

While the author’s motivation for writing the book was for younger women to draw lessons from her life, I believe it will also be a revelation for relatives and family friends to reexamine the role they play in the life of a child growing up and the far-reaching consequences of some of their actions. In fact, any girl, boy, woman or man should find this memoir illuminating.  The author shows grit, resourcefulness, tenacity and determination that would inspire anyone.

The only glitch in this daring memoir is that in the first 63 pages the author renders all monetary transactions in Cameroon in American dollars as if the currency in Cameroon is the dollar.

This glitch aside, I would not forget this memoir in a long while.  I highly recommend it!

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