My Top 5 Books of All Time

I am a massive fan of history, African history to be more specific.  Throughout my years growing up, I have spent countless hours reading and learning about the history of my favourite continent in the world, Africa.  I am a compulsive researcher on Africa. I always try to learn something new everyday about Africa and I always find myself reading and researching on the continent as if I’m about to sit an exam! lol It is already known that I have a passion for Africa (clearly) and it all started as a child when I read my first book on Kenya’s history. I previously posted a longer story on how I grew to love Africa more and more.  Anyway, other than African history, I also love and I mean LOVE wisdom books. It has to be a real good wisdom book though that has pure truth and sense in it before I will go and buy it.  My favourite author to date who writes more specifically about wisdom is Don Miguel Ruiz.  If you haven’t heard of him, look him up! His books in a way changed a massive part of my thinking and way of seeing life.

So, to begin my top 5 books I will start with number 5. Now number 3, 4 & 5 are just as brilliant as any but I just feel I gained a lot of wisdom from my top 2 books which changed my way of seeing life in a way.

5.  Purple Hibiscus – by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

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I stumbled across this amazing author online. Her name popped up on suggested books just as I was purchasing a Yoruba book from one of my favourite book store websites.  Chimamanda is a Nigerian author & Feminist born in Abba, Anambra State, Nigeria.  This book among her many other great books, is a great novel about a 15 year old girl Kambili who lives in fear of her father who is a violent Catholic. The story goes on to tell the tale of how she moves to her aunt’s house with her brother where she discovers some truths about the old God’s and the new, the difference between love and hatred and so on. This book is so detailed and brilliantly written that you almost feel like you are there in the scene. Now, this was not the first book of Chimamanda’s I purchased and it was in fact my number “4” in my top 5 books that I in fact discovered first.

4. Half of a Yellow Sun – by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

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Now, this book again, by Chimamanda, was the first I stubbled across. I am still able to see it is by far my favourite book of hers and I am glad it was the first of her many books I read because it caught my attention and made me keen to learn more about the author. A short intro of Half of a Yellow Sun – Set in Nigeria during 1960’s, a story following 3 lives, Ugwu who was a boy from a village and who worked as a houseboy for a university lecture. A young woman Olanna who abandoned her life in Lagos to live with her partner who was a professor and third, an English man namely Richard who is shy and quiet man.  During 1960’s Nigeria was blighted by civil war. “When the shocking horror of the war engulfs them, their loyalties are severely tested as they are pulled apart and thrown together in ways none of them imagined…” ~ From the book.

I enjoyed this book during a long flight out to Ghana and it was an absolute brilliant read!

3. 12 Years a Slave, A True Story – by Solomon Northup.

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This book is by far one of my absolute favourite books of all time! Every single page of the book is just outstanding and detailed so well that I could feel the whole scene play out in my mind.  I did a lot of research on Solomon Northup during the years while learning about slavery, one of my biggest interests.  I read his stories previously online from an online slavery history website and during a quick stop at the supermarket I stumbled across this “Collins Classic” book of the original story of 12 Years a Slave. I bought it at first thinking maybe it is just a remake of the book and not the true story. Turned out it wasn’t. It was in fact the detailed in-depth story of Solomon Northup.  Solomon Northup was a FREE man, who was tricked and kidnapped into slavery by two men who pretended to offer him a great opportunity of playing the violin (as he was a great violinist) professionally as well as offering a daily wage for his services.  He was either drugged or spiked because just a day after he set off with the two men, he woke up in a slave pen chained to the cold hard ground. From thereon, the story continues to tell how he was brutally forced into slavery and suffer 12 years of the hellish life of a slave.

This book is one of my favourites for many reasons. One, because of the history told in the book, two, the real cold truths of slavery and three, the great detail gone into this wonderful authors story. I personally have to say though, the movie didn’t live up to the book if you ask me. A lot of the books great details were missing from the movie and also a few added fiction scenes there too. still a great movie though!

2. The Four Agreements – Wisdom Book – by Don Miguel Ruiz.

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This was the first book I read of Don’s.  This book actually doesn’t belong to me. I “borrowed” it from a friend just before catching my train back to Scotland from Birmingham. I didn’t bring along a book to read and my friend kindly offered to borrow me this, unfortunately he has yet to see his book again (Sorry Tola) 😜

I knew that this book is going to be brilliant because the person I borrowed it from has great wisdom and I knew that he never reads nonsense.  I was completely hooked on the book right from the start! It got me thinking in a whole other way I’ve never thought before! This book teaches 4 very important things that we need to be taught. 1. Be impeccable with your word – say only what you mean, avoid gossiping, use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.  2. Don’t take anything personal – Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a reflection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. 3. Don’t make assumptions – ask questions and don’t assume. Communicate clearly to avoid dramas, sadness or misunderstandings. And 4. Always do your best – under any circumstance, always do your best and you will avoid self-judgement, self- abuse and self-regret.

Believe me when I say this book changed me in more than one way. I say changed, well, what I really mean is that it made me see life clearly and things started to make prefect sense. The dramas, sadness and self-judgement in my life changed because I learned how to change my mind and think in a whole other way to avoid these problems. HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who is really ready to become a positive, freeminded happy person from within. I promise you it is worth the read.

1. The Mastery of Love – by Don Miguel Ruiz.

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“Don Miguel Ruiz illuminates the fear-based beliefs and assumptions that undermine love and lead to suffering and drama in our relationships. Don Miguel shows us how to heal our emotional wounds, recover the freedom and joy that our birthright, and restore the spirit of playfulness that is vital to loving relationships.” ~ From the book.

This is my ABSOLUTE favourite book among all the books I’ve ever read! For countless reasons! Again, a book of wisdom. Looking at the title of this book, you would think maybe it is a book that teaches you how to love others? My thought exactly. But…no, not quite. It is in fact a wisdom book that in fact teaches us to LOVE OURSELVES. It teaches us the real true meaning of love and makes us see clear that love exists and it is not what we are made to believe. It goes on to talk about how we must truely love ourselves before we are able to love other people unconditionally. It reveals some real deep truths that really get you thinking about how wrong the word “love” is misunderstood. Below are a few of the very in-depth paragraphs in the book that really stuck in my head and changed my whole outlook on love:-

“Happiness can only come from inside you and it’s the result of your love. When you are aware that no one else can make you happy, and that happiness is the result of your love, this becomes the greatest mastery of the Toltecs: the Mastery of Love”

One of my favourite chapter’s in the book was “The Magical Kitchen”  now, this chapter was long so let me break it down in my words and highlight the message behind it.

If we see our heart as a magical kitchen, in which has all the food you can ever dream of, should someone come to your door and say “I will give you free pizza everyday if you just let me control your life”, the first thing we will say is no thank you, I have all the food I need already here with me. Then let’s say one day that magical kitchen becomes empty, we have no food left, we haven’t ate in days and we become desperate for food. The same person from before comes back to your door and offers you free pizza if you let them control you. We will accept the pizza all because we are desperate for food.  Now let’s say this kitchen is your heart. If your heart is already filled with self love and self respect, no one can come and offer you what you already have inside you. If you don’t have self love and self respect in your heart, just like that empty kitchen, you will become desperate and accept in any attention and “so called love” from anyone even if it means being controlled by them.

This really truely touched me and woke me up to fully realise that I have love in my already.  This book taught me that love is not something we take from another it is rather what we already have inside us and its just a matter or recognizing that and believing in ourselves.

This book taught me that we have to fully love ourselves and accept ourselves as we are in order to accept others too just as they are without conditions, without fear and without expectations.

This book made me realise what love truely is. Anyone who struggles with understanding love, then definitely read this book and I promise you that you will really see that all the things you thought was love, really isn’t. You will see the real true meaning of love and it will make you see everything in a whole new wonderful light 🙂 after reading this book I felt so wonderful. We all have it in us and these kind of books are just reminders!

So there you have it, my top 5 books of all time. 🙂 Any great book suggestions please leave your comments. Now that you know my type of books 🙂

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Cape Coast Castle – Ghana

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About the Castle: Cape Coast Castle is one of Ghana’s Slave Castle which was built on the Gold Coast by Swedes for trade of Timber and Gold with a church also built within the castle. The Castle was then later used for the slave trade. For those who don’t know how slave castles were used, they were used for keeping African Slaves locked away after they were captured and held there until sold to the Americans. Some slaves were held there until death if they were not sold. The castle also had a Cell for the Slaves who fought or tried to escape.The female and male slaves were divided into separate dungeons as you will see from my pictures below. Each dungeon was dark, cold and with no lights, toilets or bed to sleep on. They had to sleep and go to the bathroom in the same area so you could imagine the torture they gone through. Slavery was and is one of the many horrible acts of cruelty by human beings. I started learning and reading about slavery from a very young age but when you enter one of the slave castles everything you read about or learned about then feels more real when you see where these poor souls were held and even died. The castle definitely had a cold hunted feel and as you are walking around and feeling and seeing how dark and cold the dungeons are you start to feel more emotional and realise just how horrific it really would have been for these innocent people. People say slavery is a thing of the past and should be left there, but for me, i like to educated people or tell people the stories of slavery and let it never be forgotten because although slavery was abolished i feel the innocent souls who died and were enslaved should never be forgotten and we should remember how lucky we were and still are…to not have faced the same thing they did.

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On my third day in Ghana i reached Cape Coast and of course it was a must to visit Cape Coast Castle not only because i am a huge fan of history but also because it is a beautiful castle despite the deep dark history that lies here.

I took a bus that dropped me off some minuets away from the castle so my sister and i walked to the castle and saw some lovely sights along the way. Below is a picture of the beautiful church just outside of the castle.

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We also met some lovely people outside of the castle including a girl carrying water on her head who was interested to know what brought us to Ghana. She also insisted that my sister carried her bucket on her head which was quiet funny to see my sister carrying something with her head haha

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The Front of the Castle

As we entered the castle there is a shop/market area where you can buy souvineers and different types of things including clothing. I Bought a beautiful Kente dress from one of the shops. We then reached the counter where you will pay for your ticket and also pay to take your camera in with you. 1 camera per group or person if you are alone.

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We were then joined with a group of other tourists and guided around the castle with a tour guide who tells everyone the story of the castle and what happened in each room of the castle etc. I took some videos while in the castle while the tour guide was telling the stories of the castle. I will upload them to my blog later for people to see.

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The picture above of cannon balls is what were used when intruders tried to intrude the castle or take over the gold coast. The cannon balls were shot at their ships to bring them down and stop them from entering.

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As i mentioned before, the Cells were used to keep what they called “stubborn Slaves”. Slaves who fought to free themselves or to free their wife’s/children. They were locked inside this cell as punishment as if they were not being punished enough! the cell was extremely small and dark.

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My sister and I inside the castle

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The Female Slave Dungeon – The dent in the middle of the ground was their “toilet” – in the same area they would sleep. All human wastage would flow down this area out into the Ocean. Leaving the innocent souls to either die through sickness, Disease or malnutrition if they were not shipped out and sold before then. The lights in the dungeon was only later installed when slavery was abolished – For tourism.

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View from the top floor of the castle.

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The Door of no return – The door that led the slaves to the ships where they were then transported to the Americans.

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The Door of Return

The Door of no return was of course because they would never return to Africa, but later the other side of the door was named “The door of return” apparently it was for those lucky enough to return – I’m not 100% sure if this is correct i am just speaking based on the information given by the tour guide.

As you can see, Cape Coast Castle is just one of many slave castles and is a huge tourist attraction in Ghana. I definitely recommend that everyone who visits Ghana should stop by Cape Coast and visit on of Africa’s many slave castles. You will leave feeling emotionally attached to Africa if you are not already. Don’t forget to show your respect when visiting and take a moment to remember the lost innocent souls not only of Ghana but of all those who died and suffered during the slave trade!