We Should All Read ‘The Power of Women’ by Dr Denis Mukwege

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr Mukwege is a Congolese gynaecologist who specialises in treating injuries from rape, and an awe-inspiring advocate of women’s rights. The Power of Women is a harrowing account of his professional and personal journey of witnessing the heinous crimes against women, and their strength and resilience through all their traumatic experiences.

There’s often this narrow-minded belief that men who speak out against the injustices against women, or who are feminists, are ‘thinking and behaving like women’, along with the pressure for these men to justify themselves and their sexuality whenever they stand up for women’s rights. Therefore, this book is so important and a necessary read for men. If one does not see the urgent need to have more men like Dr Mukwege, after all the stories of the suffering inflicted on women, and how rape is used as a social and political tool, then we’re swimming in deep shit.

Dr Mukwege’s stories show the many ways women’s bodies are used as a deliberate power tactic in war, to make a political statement and to abuse power. However, the pages aren’t all dark and heart-breaking stories. He shows women’s power, their inspiring ability to find a reason to continue living and a new meaning to life, even after experiencing violence that destroys them in all ways imaginable. The ability to start over, and rebuild when everything has been taken away from them.

He also suggests many ways we, as society, can make the necessary changes. One of them is the need for a functioning justice system that listens to victims and deals with the tormenters in an effective way. He also suggests a cultural shift, breaking the silence and smashing taboos associated with sexual abuse and women’s bodies. Stripping out sexist language that refers to the honour, chastity, and modesty of women, is also another way.

There is so much to take in, to learn and to take with you when reading this book. It is a powerful stand against the disregard of women’s lives. It is thought-provoking, inspiring, distressing, and highly important.

I urge you to read it. Everyone needs to read it.

Another interesting book similar to this one is Women’s Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle by Thomas Sankara.

10 Things I Learned from ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell

“What makes some people more successful than others?”

Hello Neighbour

I loved a lot of things about this book but the biggest benefit for me was how useful it was as a parenting guide. Yes, parenting.

In Outliers, Gladwell does a meticulous analysis of success and gives impressive answers to the question, “What makes some people more successful than others?” Through thorough research and taking a deep look at the lives of people like Bill Gates, The Beatles, and Steve Jobs, and finding out things like why Asian children are good at mathematics, he debunks some of the ideas we have about success.

Here are some of the things I learned:

  1. There’s no such thing as a self-made person, and people who make it big do not rise from nothing. Patronage and parentage play a huge role.
  2. Excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice. Experts have settled on 10 000 hours. However, since it’s such a long time (about ten years), things like being poor and having, say, to hold down two or three jobs leave you with not enough time, therefore it becomes a challenge to even begin that kind of practice.
  3. What parents do for a living, the clubs, programs and activities their children are afforded help create opportunities for the children.
  4. Intelligence matters up to a certain point and past that certain point other things outside of intelligence start to matter more.
  5. I learned about what’s called Practical Intelligence, and how important it is. It is ‘knowing what to say, to whom, knowing when to say it, and knowing how to say it for maximum effect.” This important knowledge helps you read situations correctly and get what you want.
  6. The time and place a person is born do matter. What was happening at the time, for example economically, counts more than we think.  
  7. Childhood experiences, being encouraged and nudged by parents or caregivers play an important role.
  8. Entitlement, in a positive sense, is about kids who act as though they have a right to pursue their own individual preferences, and they’re able to reason and negotiate with ease in institutional settings.
  9. The culture you find yourself in is also a factor.
  10. The attitudes and traditions we inherit from our forebears, affect the way we make sense of the world and therefore also play our role in the shaping of our success.

It’s such an enjoyable and stimulating book. It will open your eyes and bring a fresh perspective to how you think of successful people and success itself.

Enjoy, Neighbour!

How I Found Joy in Reading Science

“We are stardust brought to life, then empowered by the universe to figure itself out – and we have only just begun.”

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

Hello Neighbours

The only science reading I’ve known all my reading years is studying from textbooks up to high school. The only time I’d venture beyond the prescribed learning material was when it came to Biology, for the fun of it. This might have given my mother the idea to try to push me towards the medical field. All other natural sciences were a struggle.

Now as my reading keeps on expanding and as I gain interest in so many genres, so many topics, and ideas, I find myself curious about science. Okay, there may be a little influence from the spouse but a lot of times I feel like the more I read, the more I discover how little I know. About myself, about humans, other species, history, the world, existence…all of it. My curiosity just keeps growing and my hunger to learn more just keeps intensifying.

There were other influences. Each time Sheldon Cooper said something smart, I would Google it. Then after watching The Theory of Everything, I wanted to know more about Hawking and his work.

Image: Wikipedia

So I bought a copy of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and put it down after a few pages. I did not understand much. I tried again after a few months and still nothing. Advice from the spouse, who is a physicist, was to read it at a relaxed pace and not fret much about the big stuff in it, then go back the second time and things would start making sense.

Well, I found it to be good advice but the intimidation was far greater than my willingness to take his advice. It just felt like the book was meant to be understood by people in the field, and we the general readers were not invited to the party. I put it away but remained curious.

“It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. It’s a crazy world out there. Be curious.”

– Stephen Hawking
Image: Britannica

I then stumbled upon Einstein: His Life and the Universe by Walter Isaacson. I figured since the spouse is crazy about Einstein, I’d buy it for him.

[Shoutout to people who indirectly buy books for themselves and claim they are gifts for people they live with.]

I started reading it before he could even hold it and only got up to Mileva getting pregnant. Now here the challenge was not the science, it was my struggle with (auto) biographies and memoirs. I am getting better, though. Back to the shelf, we’ll try again, Albert.

Someone else I discovered on The Big Bang Theory came to mind because of how easy I’d heard him explain difficult stuff. Yes, Neil deGrasse Tyson. I bought his book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry last week, and let me tell you, I am very happy to have invested in it.

I am now on Page 104 and I’m happy to report, neighbours, that I’m getting most of it. Not everything, though. It really is for people in a hurry and it is fun to read. I’m not getting that stress when I read a book that makes me feel like I will fail to explain if someone asks me what it is about.

So, neighbour, I am not even done with the book but if you’re struggling with reading science books, I recommend this one to break your virginity. It will be orgasmic!

I’ll tell you what it’s all about when I finish.

Happy reading, neighbours.

Image: Wikipedia