In this warm and honest memoir, celebrated academic Njoki Wane shares her journey from her parents' small coffee farm in Kenya, where she helped her mother in the fields as a child, to her current work as a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.
Moving smoothly between time and place, Wane uses her past to illuminate her present. The childhood confusion caused by nuns at her boarding school dismissing her proper name and demanding she give them a Christian first name she did not possess, which resulted in many unexpected consequences, leads deftly to her requirement as a professor that her students, and all her colleagues, learn to use and correctly pronounce her first name of Njoki. In similar ways, Wane uses other memories, painful and tender, to show how her early lessons and the support given by her family allowed her to succeed as a woman of colour in the academy and to later lift up her students facing their own difficult journeys. Yet Wane does not gloss over her own growing pains as a young woman, and as an established professor she still questions whether or not her attachment to Western conveniences is wise. For, in the end, Wane never forgets that her story started with the feeling of safety and the clear field of view she received as a child carried on her mother's back.
Njoki Nathani Wane is a professor in the Department of Humanities, Social Science and Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.