Book Review: ‘Excursions in my mind’ by Seun Kolade

Title: Excursions in my mind
Author: Nana Awere Damoah
Publisher: Athena Press (London)
Reviewer: Oluwaseun Kolade, Civil Engineer, London, UK
Number of pages: 136
Date of release: 14 October 2008

The Examined Life

The unexamined life, says Socrates, is not worth living. In this series of uplifting, inspirational articles, Nana Awere Damoah generously invites us to join with him on these reflective excursions in the mind. His language is simple, his message profound. You won’t find boring academic abstractions in these pages; he is witty and down to earth, and takes us through a whole spectrum of issues and ideas from motivational principles to family and friendship matters, as well as topics of forgiveness, books, faith and tips for purposeful living.

Between short reflections on principles that has helped him along in life and career, Damoah engages us with fascinating stories that elicit instinctive laughter and deep thought all at once! His basic approach to life is aptly encapsulated in these words, coming in chapter 33: “life presents us with situations…for one main purpose: to learn and be better after going though those situations…” Thus, like wise Solomon who once advised that we learn diligence and organisation from the example of ants, wise Damoah encourages us to draw lessons from even the most ordinary encounters of daily life. In this regard, he tells the familiar story of a little boy of about 8 years who, in the course of play, tripped and fell heavily before him. He winced in pain and was helped to his feet. Within seconds, he was off running again and enjoying himself! Like the kid, says Damoah, “it is not whether you have fallen that matters; it is what you make of the fall” (pg. 39).

In addition to real life stories, Damoah also bring some mouth-watering folk tales to the table. Two of them come to mind: a bunch of frogs once embarked on a climbing contest. They were inundated with discouraging assaults and verbal ridicule. Weary and discouraged, they fell aside one after the other, until only one was left standing. That lone frog made it to mountain summit, to the surprise of everyone. What was the frog’s secret? It was deaf! He couldn’t hear all the discouraging words, and we can also be consciously deaf to all negativity. The second story is that of a lady prisoner who devised a means of escape. She struck a deal with the undertaker that, once another prisoner dies, she should be put in the same coffin with the dead and taken to the burial ground, with enough oxygen in it until the undertaker comes to free her later. She lowered herself into the coffin as agreed, and was taken with the dead to the burial ground. There, in the coffin, she curiously turned aside to see who it was that died: to her dismay, it was the undertaker! It’s important who you put your trust in, and for what! You can always rely on God, but men can fail, even if their intentions are good.

There are several similar engaging and funny stories in the book, as well as an encyclopaedic collection of quotes from ancient and contemporary leaders like Martin Luther King, Churchill, Mandela, Aristotle, Confucius, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and several others. The author himself is comfortable in this illustrious company, and one of his witty quotes comes to mind: Due time will come, in due time.

The book is available on the internet from amazon and the publisher’s website (www.athenapress.com), and also in bookstores in Ghana. Get yourself a copy of this book. You’ll surely not regret it. It’s a book for your own shelves, not one to borrow from public library.

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