Book review: The Flavor of Favor: Quest for the American Dream: A Memoir
Author: Emmanuel Olawale/2015
Publisher: Charleston, SC, U.S.A
The Flavor of Favor: Quest for the American Dream; a Memoir is a book that narrates explicitly the author’s two humble beginnings; his early stage in his place of birth (Nigeria) and his emigration to ‘God’s own Country’ (United States of America) at an early age of 20 in 1997 despite all odds and challenges that are always associated with new and young immigrants.
The author, Emmanuel Olawale was born in Lagos, a product of a humble background. The only advantage at his disposal was his determination to succeed despite all the obvious unfair class strata created by the society.
Things were hard for him at a very early age as he juggled holiday jobs even without the consent or knowledge of his disciplined parents, yet, he struggled to remain alive, but the ladder of success eventually yielded itself to him and he climbed up rapidly in his new adopted country as he determined to be a role model to the younger generations and helped the growth of his Nigerian family.
Measured and elevated language is employed throughout the 243 pages book with 23 chapters and this is one book that informs and edifies, whether it is discussing the challenges of a younger beginner or the need to input God in our efforts to reach the desired goals.
Throughout this revealing literature, the author clearly hammers down every point using relevant examples, allowing readers to fully key into the main theme of the book – to reveal how young and vibrant Nigerians with goals can set them and reach their targets.
The author in the narration of his growing up in Nigeria, painted a picture of a society that abhors indiscipline, yet some basic elements or unscrupulous people in the same society made life uneasy for the citizenry through intimidation.
Chapter one, ‘The ‘Marked’ Boy’, took the readers to the early education stage of the author who as a Primary Two pupil met obstacles from co-pupils and almost killed by two of his classmates for simply being “nominated the class captain as well as being the teacher’s favourite student. In particular, I’d earned their enmity because I presided over the class in the teacher’s absence and was responsible for reporting any delinquencies upon her return.”
On page eight with the topic, ‘The Burning Man’, the book painted a gory picture of jungle justice in the Nigerian society and the reaction of the immediate environment. A particular scene was about a young man who was burnt to ashes with tyres and petrol for allegedly stealing a car radio!
The author on pages 71-72 narrated the inhuman killing of the man in the presence of jubilant parents (who were supposed to plead on his behalf) and the law enforcement agencies who looked the other way. According to the author, the alleged naked thief was dragged on the tarred road, hit with pebbles, sticks and several other objects before being set ablaze by the death-happy crowd. Yet, mothers saw nothing wrong with the callous treatment and killing being meted out to a fellow human being!
This and more are some of the jungle justices that still pervade the Nigerian society even in the 21st century. Rather than follow the due process of law, the populace prefer to take law into their hands.
At a stage in his life, after experiencing poverty and hawking wares in order to be able to eat daily, Olawale decided to depart the shores of Nigeria and seek greener pastures elsewhere. His hope of getting the eluded greener pasture was in the United States.
When the author was departing the shores of Nigeria in 1997, he thought the streets of U.S. were laced with gold and diamond, but reality downed on him that to be successful in the new abode, he would have to roll up the sleeves of his shirts, engaged in at least three menial jobs daily, pursued his degree programme and still seek better life.
But, when Olawale got to the US, he expressed shock to see poverty on the streets of New York; “I was taken aback by the ferry and subway musicians, singing and playing music for nickels, pennies and dollars. I’d never imagined anyone could be poor or homeless in America…I’d thought everyone in America was rich and had more than enough to eat and wear. The existence of poverty in the City of New York amid the plenty was something beyond my imagination.”
He pursued his degree course in Communication, Media Studies and Journalism in the U.S. and finished a course of four years within a record three years period and still came out with Distinction despite working three jobs; two fulltime security jobs and part-time home health aide.
After the degree programme, he proceeded to read Law at the Capital University Law School in Ohio where he also graduated in flying colours, but the turbulent moments began when he lost his clerk job in a law firm exactly a week after his tying the knot with his wife, Jummy.
Chapter 19 with the head, ‘The First Trial,’ had 16 pages and thereby contained the largest in the book. Olawale as a young lawyer was given a brief, which even other established lawyers had turned down while his firm already lost hope of winning the case, but he won and instantly became a household name in his chosen profession.
However, the migration of the author to the U.S at early age of 20 definitely has some impacts in the construction of words and mixture of such. The author in almost all the pages has mixture of Queens and American English.
The Flavor of Favor: Quest for the American Dream; Memoir is professionally crafted and gets the readers glued to it from the beginning to the end. The book is one of the most comprehensive and insightful memoir written in recent time with double spacing characters, which makes it easier for booklovers to read.
It is a masterpiece that every library and result-driven individual in Nigeria or any other parts of the world would require to grow. The book is recommended for all classes of people especially students and younger generations who aspire to attain growth in all their endeavours.
Olawale has rendered a masterpiece with a scalpel soaked in ink; he has dissected this body of classical performances with the touch of a maestro and the cover designer deserves special commendation for a splendid book cover.