Book title: Keza’s Journey To Success
Author: Winnie Muhumuza Mugisha Reviewed by: Emmanuel Ngabire
Publisher: Excel Education Partners
The best way to teach life’s greatest lessons is to wrap them up in a memorable story. Winnie Mugisha’s book, “Keza’s Jouney to Success”, does just that. It is the grass-to-grace life story of a girl named Keza, who manages to overcome her poor background to reach the heights of academic achievement.
At the beginning we meet Keza, a little girl of about seven who wants nothing more than to go to school like other children. However, her sickly mother is too poor to afford her school fees and Keza is forced to stay at home all day, helping with house work.
One day, Keza finds out from Mama Dudu, a friend of her mother’s, a dark secret that her mother had hidden from her all her life: in the 1994 Genocide that left her without a father, Keza’s mother was raped and infected by HIV/AIDS. Keza herself was the product of that rape.
This tragic story provides answers to many of the young girl’s questions, for instance, why her mother was so sad and sickly all the time; and why she had no “Papa” like other children.
It also makes her more determined to go to school.
One day, she simply decides to walk into the nearby school with Nina, a friend of hers, who is already a pupil there. Here Keza meets Gako, the Headmistress, and her life changes forever.
Gako takes personal interest in the girl, helps her join the school, assists her with her school fees and even helps Keza’s mother get medication. She also finds the girl’s mother a job in the school as a cleaner.
Very soon Keza distinguishes herself as a hardworking, intelligent girl, performs very well in her Primary leaving exams, emerges best student overall in high School and wins a Presidential award to study medicine at Harvard. It is the fulfilment of her life’s dreams.
On every step of her journey to success is Mrs. Gako, who supports her emotionally and financially, becoming a second mother when her own mother passes away in Senior Two. On her part, Keza never forgets her roots or the people who helped her along the way, and remains humble and grateful to them
‘Keza’s Journey to Success” is a tale that is intended by the writer to convey a number of lessons to its readers, and quite a number of them are covered within the narrative. Apart from the major theme of the value of education, the writer also tackles the impact of HIV/AIDS on families, the necessity of humility, charity, gratitude, ambition and hard work.
The book is a great introduction for beginning readers, and is ideal for all age groups because of its easily accessible language, plot and universal themes.