Part poem and part workbook, A Son of the Nile by Teddy Warria captivates us with a rich tapestry of the Kenyan entrepreneur’s colourful life, says reviewer Anne Pratt.
Teddy Warria, a beloved son of the Nile, with his inspiring work and insights into the human condition, is a generous gift from Africa. This poetic and compelling way of storytelling our life and leadership journey beckons us to define our own rich, powerful story of origin – it is soulfully African.
In his engaging and uplifting book A Son of the Nile he demonstrates the African spirit of ubuntu — umuntu, ngumuntu, ngabantu, which translated means “I Am Because We Are”. Gratitude for those that shape us, and a knowingness we are interconnected, the idea of embracing our shared humanity. A powerful reminder in our fragile world today.
Teddy’s creative work and the golden thread of human connection resonates with my upbringing in South Africa, where acknowledging our human interdependence, the humanness of our neighbours, friends, community, and work colleagues is integral to the social fabric of Africa.
As we say in Africa, “it takes a village to raise a child.” But, it also takes a global village, like Teddy’s, to think, act, and lead with courage and excellence. Teddy’s work and story demonstrate the power of how our stories of origin connect us to this extraordinary global village. His “I Am” narrative has defined his leadership story, his quest for each of us to give the world a more human face.
In his poetic, inclusive, and compelling way of storytelling, what at a cursory glance may look like a dine-around of fellow villagers, intelligentsia, celebrities, and kings, Teddy captivates us with a rich tapestry of his colourful life. From his origin story at the source of the Nile and subsequent travels worldwide, Teddy remains grounded in his African experience and delivers remarkable insights into what it means to be African and how strong self-identity can result in authentic leadership.
Part poem and part workbook, the book is a conversation starter for anyone wanting to dig deeper into the origins of many social constraints in which we find ourselves today. Or, those that seek greater clarity, connection to their ‘roots,’ their defining moments, and purpose.
In A Son of the Nile, Africa’s strong tradition of spoken history and storytelling comes alive. Those accustomed to linear thinking and neatly packaged trains of thought will be delighted by Teddy’s unorthodox treatment in this book. A reader could open this book at any point and be rewarded with wisdom to see them through their day.
Teddy inspires us with this African tradition, one that has been profoundly connecting, communal and entertaining through the centuries. A creative, colourful archive preserving history, traditional culture, and ritual ceremonies, a way to make sense of the universe, resolve natural phenomena, give moral guidance, and maintain cultural norms across generations. Anyone seeking greater human insight and connection with their human village or tribe, or those born and raised in Africa, will find the words in this book resonating with their soul.
Our life story ultimately determines our leadership journey and defines who we are: early childhood, milestones, values, and the tipping points or crucibles that define and shape us. One of Africa’s greatest sons, Nelson Mandela, knew the importance of digging deep within and leading yourself first before leading others. Mandela once said: “Learn to know yourself… to search realistically and regularly the processes of your mind and feelings.”
Likewise, to evolve and lead with excellence, you need to understand your “source” and your energy force – the life experiences, environment, deep-seated values, what you care about, your dance with the world, and life lessons that shape you. So often, our experiences appear to be small or negligible, only to discover these life forces sculpt and guide us today in life and leadership. Teddy’s book gives us thousands of small insights into the world of ordinary and extraordinary Africans and leaders worldwide – that should give anyone aspiring to become an effective citizen and leader the courage to acknowledge the small but often significant influences that shaped them.
As a South African living through South Africa’s transition from an oppressive autocracy to a modern democracy, I have witnessed the power of identity, purpose, and the spoken word in rallying people from all walks of life behind a notable cause. Many chapters in Teddy’s book deliver rich words for thought and action. He encourages us to learn from our life experiences as they emerge and to become increasingly connected and engaged in the results. The workbook and interview sections give the reader a framework around how to begin this enlightening process of self-reflection and discovery.
Imbued with a renewed hope, reading Teddy’s work transports us into deeper reflection with inspiring ‘I Am‘ stories that he received from a worldwide network of friends, allies, confidantes, and colleagues. Each poem confirms that wherever or whoever you are, a connection to your “source” is critical in affirming who you are. It forms a solid foundation of self-awareness, self-esteem, and grounds you for authentic and impactful leadership.
However, the book is not only praise-singing for Africa. Many chapters force us to confront the harsh realities of Africa – its failings and shortcomings. The power of Teddy’s book rests in the acknowledgment that failure and struggle are part of life, the paradox of struggle and triumph. Whether on a personal or continent-wide level, these hardships are part of being human, and the author has honestly confronted the fact that we should own our flaws and ponder them before moving ahead in life.
A Son of the Nile conveys his heartfelt and proud African spirit and beckons us to reflect and connect with our own powerful story of origin to find our true north and leadership purpose in life. Indeed, Teddy is a ’Lamb with the heart of an indomitable Lion’.
Anne Pratt is a Harvard fellow, a multi-award-winning businesswoman, author of upcoming Mandela’s Leadership Blueprint, met Nelson Mandela, and ran a leading executive leadership company working in Africa and internationally.