Meet one of Nigeria’s youngest Lecturer who “Broke the Coconut” by hitting 5.0 CGPA in her Masters Program [BOOK REVIEW]


Image result for images for charles umeh's breaking the coconutBook Title: Breaking the Coconut: Tales of 11 Inspiring African Agents of Change, 2015
Genre: Non Fiction Novel
Author:  Charles Umeh
Publishing House: Partridge Africa
Total Pages: 115

Writer, Media Entrepreneur, Journalist, Social Innovator, OAP, Compere, Poet, Mentor, Teacher, Ngozi Marion Emmanuel is considered one of the youngest university lecturers in Africa in her time.

 At age 22, she started her teaching journey [she is currently 25]. A womanist, she is best known as the youngest lecturer in Nigeria (according to some press reports). She would possibly be classified as a geek after finishing with a 5-point CGPA in her master’s degree at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State South East Nigeria in the same department where she had her first Degree. As an undergraduate studying Mass Communication, she stood out among her peers, carrying out several social projects which put her in the spotlight.

Though a native of Ebonyi State, South East Nigeria, she grew up in the Okota area of Lagos State and currently teaches Mass Communication at Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, Nigeria. In all, she is humble and tells everyone who cares to listen that #GodIsNotDead, for all her success can be attributed to God. At spare times, she does more of pep talk for young minds who look up to her for inspiration.

Image result for images for Ngozi Marion EmmanuelShe is the founder of Smart Leaders Are Made [SLAM] and her organizations has been doing great things in the lives of young especially with the South Eastern part of the country for over 5 years. SLAM organizes the Slam Youth Heroes Awards, the SYHA which recognizes the contributions of young people in the development of their country. She is a multiple award winner. You can reach her by email:

I decided to begin this review from her because she is among the 11 amazing Africans whose lives Charles Umeh decide to chronicle in his book, Breaking the Coconut: Tales of 11 Inspiring African Agents of Change.

Charles can be seen as an African Millennial who seeks to share the experience of African change-makers by likening their exploits to the breaking of a Coconut.

Breaking the Coconut is nonfiction and contains insights of eleven African change-makers who bare their mind on thriving in Africa. The short Stories of these change-makers  captures leadership values marinated in a simply written style to inspire and urge young people  thriving to keep beating on their craft. I have long decided not to comment on this book because the Author is not just a friend but mentor, but then, I am more persuaded to review this book because I am a part of the stories as told by 4 of the agents of change [Marion Emmanuel, Chinonso Arubayi, Dunn Eustace, Maple Dappa]. I have benefited from Chinonso’s wisdom and also listened to Amaka Anusi while she was at 96.9 Cool FM Nigeria.

No doubt we live in the social era, the epoch of the New Media. For me, I like to see it as the age of young people helping young people, and it is this that the author captures in his book. The fact that he got Partridge Africa to publish the book goes to show the quality of the content. Also, selling on online stores such as and  with over 28, 000 affiliate online store including  is quite a testament of the lessons contained in the book.  

Image result for images for charles umeh's breaking the coconut
The foreword to the book was written by LEAP Africa. The author couldn’t have made a better choice seeing that LEAP Africa has been in the business of producing young agents of change since 2002 of which Charles Umeh is a 2007 Alumnus. Amongst others, it notes; “however, Breaking the Coconut dispels this notion completely. The change agents whose stories are told in this book are everyday young people fuelled by a passion to see positive change in spite of limited resources. Their commitment, enthusiasm, and tenacity in the face of challenges are inspiring…To every young person out there hungry for positive change but too scared or unsure of how to begin, Breaking the Coconut will provide the fuel you need to begin the journey to make an impact and leave an indelible mark in your society. Read this book, and be inspired to join these dynamic individuals to defy the odds and recreate the Africa that we long to see, the Africa of our dreams”.

The book is broken into eleven chapters with one chapter dedicated to each story; followed by a short biography of each of them, then the Index. The book is written in a youth friendly language with no complicated words that may disrupt the flow of the stories. Each chapter is introduced with an African proverb that more or less suits the kind of story to be told.

As one online media clearly puts it “Charles Umeh takes his readers on an inspiring African journey. The beauty of these stories is their easy to read language  which is more appealing to  the young at heart. #BreakingtheCoconut is the first of its kind: having young people share their ongoing “biographies” on how they helped influence and inspire change in their communities. The idea is to influence and inspire the next game changer to learn from these lessons and act better”.

Describing the Change Agents, the author said “The beauty of all of them is that they belong to a generation classified as millennials, who coincidentally have been adjudged the most self-absorbed and narcissist generation. One pattern seems to resonate among a majority of them: they believe making the world a better place is a collective effort of every one of us, and they refuse to believe in the status quo and wish to be forever young at heart and be the solutions rather than the problem. The world tells them they lack experience, and they shock you with results that probably didn’t match their experience. We would let you draw your lessons from there. #breakingthecoconut book As the world always heralds new change-makers in seasons, it’s my belief that sharing insights from these millennials, whose involvement in their craft shapes their world and serves as heads-up to the next generation of game changers”.

I quite agree with him.

Lessons from the 11 Change Makers

Image result for images for charles umeh's breaking the coconutThe book is rich with lessons from the young to the young. I still draw personal reference from it because they are people within my generation and the language they speak I understand, and s do many other youths out there. For instance;

Maple Dappa is an enigma of a breed. Maple grew up in the South Southern part of Nigeria. As a child, the beginning looked hostile and bleak at a time, and even the future looked uncertain. His story sheds light into a childhood which prepares him for his journey and how he thrives through. Lessons from Maple:  your background has no right to put your back to the ground.

Sara Nana Yeboah is a nurse who is passionate about preventive healthcare for girls and youth empowerment. In her fatherland, Ghana, she is being referred to as the Florence Nightingale of Africa. Lessons from Sara: follow your dream and impact others while at it.

Ngozi Marion Emmanuel became a lecturer in a Nigerian university at age 22. She would possibly be classified as a geek after finishing with a 5-point CGPA in her master’s degree. As an undergraduate, she stood out among her peers, carrying out several social projects which put her in the spotlight. Lessons from Marion:  if you can conceive it, then you can achieve it for smart leaders are made.

Chinonso Steve Ogbogu is what you might refer today as ‘knowlegepreneur’ (don’t search for it on Google; Charles’ coinage). He sells his knowledge via books, social media platforms, and his website. He has two books to his credit and has once been listed as an under 30 in his country making impact. Lessons from Chinonso: if you must fail, fail forward and be persistent at rising up.

Kenechukwu’s Uba’s story is that of grit. He sowed a seed of perseverance among a team of young college students and raised and led a team of undergraduates whose goal was to represent their country of birth in a global competition for youths around the world. Lessons from Kene: always bequeath a legacy that outlives your tenure, lay solid foundations for the future rewards are great!

Ambrose Adole was awarded the best young team leader in Nigeria by the global blue-chip firm Accenture Nigeria as a reward for leading a bunch of energy-filled young Student to cause a social change in his community. Lessons form Andrew: never let ugly circumstances confuse you. When life throws its shit at you, standup, shake it off and move on, always keep an eye on the goal.

Chinonso Arubayi’s dream of changing the world wasn’t completely unfounded. An opportunity to express impact opened with a student magazine she pioneered on campus as an undergraduate. Her thoughts evolved to a movement widely known as Building Opinion Leaders with a Difference (BOLD), which opened doors of opportunities for a dream. Lessons from Chinonso: A team is always greater than a solo venture. Never seek for immediate gratification.

Olufunbi Falayi, in my own words, portrays the picture of the saying that when a man is faithful in little things, he can be entrusted with more. While serving his fatherland in what was called the National Youth Service scheme, Funbi decided to carry out community projects where he gave hope to high school students with a community project called Project 4. Lessons from Funbi: who says investing in other people doesn’t pay? Dreams do come true!

Daberechi Okedurum is a social entrepreneur. Dabs, as he is fondly called, shares his story on social entrepreneurship—the opportunities available and his lessons. Having learnt from the best tutors and mentors, Dabs connected the dots of his life only to observe that his new-found love wasn’t completely new but one which had probably existed but never had a name. Lessons from Daberechi: there is a drop of greatness in each one of us, it is our duty to turn that drop into an ocean. Always look within.

Eustace Dunn is a journalist, blogger and Social Media expert. His passion for journalism in his early years inspired him to study mass communication in college. With the dream to change the world with his pen, .Lessons from Dunn: You must not always flow with the crowd to win, dare to be different, be unique!

Amaka Alusi is an on-air personality (OAP) and relationship coach. Maxy, as she is widely known, for her insight on her relationship coaching firstly on radio, where her audience, which cut across continents, have been inspired by her. Lessons from Amaka: look out for the dots, discover the connection.

The stories in here are not complete yet because they aren’t fiction and the characters are still beating on their craft. It takes an ordinary act to pull out an extraordinary impact; the goal of the change-maker is to inspire change casually while they cause an outstanding ripple. Literally, the coconut hasn’t been completely consumed yet! Most of the contributors choose to sip the water and have now decided to move on with the new deal life is offering them. As you read and get inspired, go ahead and choose how you write your coconut story.

No doubt the book has many strong points from its writing style and transition to the quality of the content, however one major flaw is the inclusion of one Ghanaian in the eleven and then capturing it … Inspiring stories of 11 African Agents of Change. One would expect that fpor it to be truly African, 50 per cent of the stories would have come from other countires other than Nigeria and Ghana to give it more credibility as an African and not a Nigerian product.

But suffice to say that these young people whose stories were slected hae caused a butterfly effect creating an avalanche of change across the continent. I am most certain that when another volume would be made, it would be more difficult than the first because then, there would many more stories from the African youths to tell.

It said that one of the major causes of problems in the African continent is our lack of story telling especially within the current generation. If there was an attempt, it would be distorted or even told with half truths in them. This is one gap, the book has come to bridge.

Book readings of Breaking the Coconut have been scheduled for five African Countries and seven states in Nigeria in 2016 and hopes to be an avenue to inspire and influence reading.
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Image result for images for charles umeh's breaking the coconutCharles Umeh
He is a personal effectiveness coach, Author of an Inspirational African book Breaking the Coconut, Business Consultant consulting to individuals in SME’s, with entrepreneurs and top management in corporate businesses which have equipped him with the needed requisite to deal with a wide range of business challenges. Contact him for bulk purchase and consuktation  email to, or call 234 -9051728112.

I am working on personal story for Ngozi and she has agreed to share some of her recent stories with us.


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  1. It is very interesting to read about those young people who have become some of the best professionals in the business.