Book Review: Coping With the Identity Crisis

Cover of Coping With the Identity Crisis book by Ameria Momo. ILLUSTRATION/Ameria Momo.

Book Title: Coping With the Identity Crisis

Author: Ameria Momo

Year Published: 2023

Reviewer: Benvictor Makau

Get a Copy: +256759887012


Times of confusion, feelings of insufficiency, questioning of one’s sense of self, beliefs and values and the experiencing of a somewhat blurred path to full self-discovery are some of the elements of an identity crisis.

In this book, Ameria Momo uses the privilege of the eight chapters therein to tell her story, narrating it from her childhood up to her preparations for retirement and old age, telling of the storms that have confronted her and how she has managed to find peace with herself and her Creator.

Her identity crises started unveiling right from birth, born of mixed blood and multiracial cultures.

The book aims to help readers identify the practical experiences posed by diverse identity crises and help them manoeuvre successfully.

In the introduction, she notes that finding one’s correct identity is a complex venture and keeps on shifting as one grows and experiences new situations and challenges.

Identity crisis

“Identity involves beliefs, values and memories that make up a subjective sense of self,” she writes.

In Chapter One, she narrates her childhood moments growing up. This being a “Gulzachotala”, a chapter of puzzling questions about her life, she recounts the pains of lost family lines because her grandparents were non-Africa, and of the confusion in choosing religion because of her father’s earlier conversion from Christianity to Islam to marry their mother, while she as a child studied in Christian schools.

She could not even tell of her tribe because it was a conglomerate of Afghan and Indian grandfathers with African grandmothers. Momo also tells of how she tried to behave like a boy in an effort to emancipate herself from the many strings attached to being a girl in a confusing family line.

“I completely trashed any girly stuff like girl child games because I did not want my fate to be like that of my cousins,” she writes, referring to her older female cousins who had married off without choice.

Past the segregation and vilification she endured in primary school, on learning to say “NO”, she tells of how her desire to continue with her studies until university were almost cut short by the continuous visiting of suitors expressing interest to marry her immediately after her Primary Seven.

Saying NO unapologetically

“I was just a young girl, but I stood my ground and said a solid NO to this marriage,” she recounts of one of the instances where a suitor, a medical doctor, had registered interest in marrying her.

Momo, a faithful student of life, advises. “My dear friend, you have to learn to politely speak up for yourself. Do not be passive or aggressive, but instead be assertive.”

Momo later excelled in high school and qualified to join Makerere University, as was her dream. Her desire was to be well educated and equipped to fight for the empowerment of women, which she has always done.

It was not easy, however, and she had to escape to Kenya to evade the sting of President Milton Obote’s soldiers who threatened to hunt down women vocal on empowerment.

She tells of her escape to and working in Kenya, relocating to Uganda, love and marriage, losing her job, trying and failing in entrepreneurship, starting a thriving family business, and retirement, all of which have been tests and marks of her identity.

Family is key

Momo raises a bright candle on the essence of family for the success of a person in all other areas. “Family unity and love is the basic foundation for happiness and success in all other areas. Without family, it is difficult to navigate through the world’s increasing troubles and tribulations,” she comments.

Talking about marriage life, she points out that while marriage is so noble a stage to get into, getting it right from the start but understanding each other before marriage is wise.

In Chapter Four, Momo delves into the aspect of turning one’s setbacks into inspiring moments, an art she holds dear because it has helped her all along, especially during her lowest lows.

“…I learned to use both tragic and triumphant moments to be a better person right from a young age,” she writes, alluding to the many fights she has picked up to emancipate herself from societal, religious and historical fangs.    

Above stereotypes                             

She narrates of how she has always, since birth, been engulfed and hemmed in by stereotypes, especially that she physically looks different because of her Afghan-Indian-African descent.

Growing up, however, and in her later life, she defied all odds and intentionally rose above the lurking stereotypes, doing what society thought and said she can’t do.

She joined politics while still in school in the 1980s, pushing for a change of leadership to allow for empowerment and valuing of women in Uganda.

All these tell of how she has been intentional in defining her identity, even when people around, and the children she studied with kept on scoffing her for her skin color and blonde hair, which gave her identity but, typically, didn’t define her.

Into entrepreneurship

In Chapter Five of Coping With the Identity Crisis, she handles her business journey, one punctuated with uncertainties yet encapsulated in undying hope.

She says after she left her government job in 1994, she started her own business from her savings, and started off by getting in touch with the high-circle people she had been working with.

Momo’s two cents on choosing customers go this way: “Sometimes in business, we try so hard to reach out to those who are very far and yet we ignore those people in our closer circles that can actually buy our product. I had somehow figured this out so I started with those in my circles,” she narrates.

Telling of the struggles she went through while still learning the basics of business management, she observes that at times, life takes the dark path before unleashing its goodness on you.

She elevates the power of hope, even amidst the craving to give up, by inscribing that “When you need more fuel to strengthen the soul and help the body to win the fight, hope becomes that fuel.”

Momo advises that skilling is vital for business and personal success, adding that while having capital is paramount, having the knowledge of the venture you want to start is more beneficial.

On the questioning, and the spirited search for your true identity in life, always remember the sage words by Maya Angelou: “You will face many defeats in your life, but never let yourself be defeated.”

In the better part of Chapter Six, “Venturing into Family Business”, Momo shares her business nuggets with the reader, coupled with testimonials from clients who have benefitted from her business, lighting the way for those interested in starting or are already in entrepreneurship.

These are pathways she has walked on while serving in her family business, Trust Hands of Hope Ltd, a loaning and financial empowerment company that has been operational for a decade now. Having vetted them, she deemed fit to share,

Love for flowers

“Flowers and I come from a long way back,” she reminisces.

Since childhood, Momo loved flowers and embraced home gardening, which, over the years, has grown into a full-fledged passion with so many flowers to show.

While still in high school, she had a small flower garden, which she has since expanded elsewhere and is beautifully blooming.

Sharing some of the lessons she has learned from growing and nurturing flora, she underlines the beauty of diversity, which she has always witnessed when she aligns variety of flowers and observes their beauty.

Her flower garden has also been a pathway to expanding her social circle and client base, especially from the clients who buy the flowers and the friends and neighbors willing to learn the art.

Retirement, old age

But even when the dance is too sweet, the good dancer knows when to vacate the stage.  It’s catastrophic when we think that we’ll always be strong and financially fit and brush off the need to sober up and plan for retirement and old age.

This is what Momo handles in Chapter Eight of her life’s journey in record, a topic she started thinking about immediately after she exited the government office.

“When I started thinking and planning for retirement, I mainly looked at three things: How I want to be remembered, how I will continue to survive when I stop working, and what I should do to ensure that I don’t die empty,” she writes.

These are pertinent issues which she handles here, telling of the legacy, purposeful life and the impact she has always strived to leave and any transformational person would desire to.

You stand to grasp more about her journey and life-changing nuggets by purchasing your own copy of the masterpiece so that when you feel lost, you can refer to and get some light.

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It’s one that’ll make your home library complete and help you overcome your identity crisis.

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Mr. Makau holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics, Media & Communication from Moi University, Kenya. He is a Columnist and Editor with Scholar Media Africa, with a keen interest in Education, Health, Climate Change, and Literature. His contact: b.makau@scholarmedia.africa.

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