She was going to interview the renowned writer, Chinua Achebe, but it appeared that her interviewee was skeptical about her stance as a journalist who sings. So when the interview was about to begin, Achebe said, “Okay, let me speak with the singing journalist.”
The singing journalist
This is just a part of her life. It doesn’t capture her whole essence. In fact, I doubt if one word can do justice to the person of Onyekachi Onwenu. True, she was a journalist at Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) for a while, and while at it, she was creating music. I guess if she had interviewed Achebe after that period, he might have said something along the lines of “Okay, let’s hear what the singing, acting, critique journalist wants to say.” I totally made that up. But in fact, she’s much more than that.
Prior to being the singing journalist, she was a daddy’s girl. Who else cannot wrap their head around the fact that the irrepressible Onyeka was once a daddy’s girl? She was literally the love of her father’s life, and vice versa. She is vocal about that love. She cherishes that love so much because it gave her the confidence to be the, permit me to say, badass that she is. That love shaped her. It molded her and lent her wings. The love her father had for her reverberates through her life; so potent, so palpable. This is why she can recognize women whose fathers loved them to smithereens. She said, “I know them when I encounter them. They have confidence in themselves and make no apologies for their strength. They have nothing to prove to anyone, except to themselves, for the high expectations they have. These are women who possess the innate ability and mental conditioning, right from childhood, to succeed. They are not afraid of the world, rather they take it head-on.”
This memoir is divided into eleven parts and each part focuses on an important aspect of her life. From Finding My Roots to Sister Goes Home, we are introduced to the spectacular woman Onyeka Onwenu is. She is a force. Her aura is so strong that someone important, at a point in her life, felt threatened by it. She became confused as to how one could dim ones aura so that it wouldn’t threaten others. How has it ever been done? I am convinced it is this aura that propelled the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti to ask for her hand in marriage. But we all know how that panned out. More than this aura, her intelligence and competence made her sit and rub minds with the eminent. It is refreshing to read this story at this time when some young girls think it is near impossible to have intelligence and wit as strength. If the likes of Michelle Obama and Chimamanda Adichie are not enough to go by, Onyeka Onwenu is another living proof that intelligence goes a long way.
Her life, whose is it?
I like how Onyeka Onwenu includes her relationship with her heavenly father. She weaves her story around her earthly father’s love but wraps it up in the strong arms of God’s love. She recognizes the impact of both relationships in her life and how much both hold her steady.
Before My Father’s Daughter, I used to think Onyeka Onwenu was simply a singer who sometimes plunged into acting. After My Father’s Daughter, well, I couldn’t be more wrong. Onyekachi Onwenu surprised me with her strength and vigour. As I read, I tried to reconcile the same woman who sang One Love, a song that never gets old, with the woman who has overcome many feats in over six decades of living. She is versatile, evolving, and filled with depth. In this memoir, I am introduced to the many facets of this iconic woman and each is a lesson in resilience and grace.