A Worthy Legacy
By Tomi Akinyanmi
Tommie Books, 2008,
Reviewed by Leanne Flanagan
The Nigerian sun blazes as the author answers a phone call from her father. Her grandfather, who has been seriously ill, faces imminent death, and Akinyanmi must return home to the family’s village. Thus begins A Worthy Legacy and the author’s own spiritual journey. As she begins her travels, she relives vivid memories spent with her grandfather as a child. She was the first girl grandchild after eight boys and there were another eight boys born before the next girl. He had called her his little girl, and she coveted the feeling that she was his favorite. These thoughts magnified the urgency she felt to get to the village so that she could be with her grandfather before his death. In the old traditions of her people, being near a relative’s deathbed to say farewell was considered a most honored opportunity.
Upon her arrival in the village, she reverts back to another old tribal tradition; the women’s show of respect for elders by kneeling when greeting them. In this tribe, there was more than one wife. Because Ms. Akinyanmi’s grandmother was the first of three wives, it was her duty to stay with Grandfather in his sick room and relay his wishes to the rest of the family. The story continues when Grandfather is carried into a courtyard by his sons as his entire family gathers around him. He begins to speak, and after persuading all to wear a smile, he proceeds to offer his last words.
He gives advice of how to live honorably. He speaks of fulfilling our destiny, developing and keeping self-respect, respecting others, believing in God and finding happiness in truth. There is poetry included about trusting others, not giving up and having hope. After his death, his family and the entire village mourn a beloved husband, father, brother and grandfather as well as a valued member of the village. He was buried within the estate of his home the next day, as he requested. After his burial, his granddaughter, Akinyanmi, came back to the city to resume her life, often remembering her grandfather’s last words, she writes.
A Worthy Legacy started out telling the story of an honest, simple man who taught his family to live with love, dignity and respect. This reader was drawn into the work and was fascinated by some of the old customs relayed in the story. However, as the book progressed, it stopped being a story about a family and its culture and became almost like a text of proverbs. There were too many pages of wise words that the reader has heard before, and book was reminiscent of the famous Sermon on the Mount in the New Testament of the Bible where Jesus Christ was teaching principles for living while looking down on his devoted followers. The length and the tone of the grandfather’s last words spoken made this portion of the book a segment of preaching rather than part of a story.
Because of the tone Ms. Akinyanmi uses to tell the story and the lack of narrative, this book would probably be more appropriate for spiritual groups or inspirational speakers rather than the general reader.
About Leanne Flanagan
Leanne has renewed her passion for writing after a 30 year sabbatical at experiencing real life—raising a family and having a career in health care. She now spends her free time writing most often, light, tongue-in-cheek observations of life in American suburban society, limericks and poetry. At present, she is working towards publication of a memoir written as a collection of essays and poetry.