Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Take a Look. It's in a Book!

I don't know.  Maybe it's sort of cliché now to say or allude to the importance of books and reading and taking them on as a partner of sorts in learning.  Now, in this post I'll be referring primarily to books that teach, show, demonstrate.  Yet, what I want to say applies to texts of other genres as well.  

"YouTube University" is a thing. I get it.  Just about anything you want to know how to do is there.  It's served as a teaching tool for so many people globally for so long, and the effective ways in which many of its users interact with the platform to impart knowledge and understanding to others is undeniable.  Just last night I watched a man in India demonstrate to anyone interested how to revive a seemingly dying plant.  I needed this info. in order to rejuvenate our beloved Nanu, a native Hawaiian gardenia.

The plant after being uprooted, checked for signs of life. and cleaned. It has definitely seen better days.  Too much water in a rainy valley has been her downfall, but I did everything the man said to do.  We'll see how this goes.

As a person who's attempting to start a plant business that entails growing plants from seed, from cuttings, from leaves, etc., YouTube has been and continues to be an excellent resource.  No doubt.

But y'all.  Ain't nothing like a book.  And all that it takes in America (and on remote islands that once existed as independent kingdoms but were taken over by America.  But I digress!)  where public libraries are in abundance is to go to the library's website or use the app to inquire about a topic of interest.  The titles just pop up like...





That's just a sample.  It's really incredible.  I've pulled so much useful, even old-school information from these books that helps to shape my overall vision of what it is I need to be doing and how I need to be doing it if I'm going to do this.  

Books just "hit different", as the folk like to say.


When I was pregnant with my first child, we knew she would be a girl without ultrasound or anything else signifying to us that she'd be a girl other than our own knowing.  We just knew.  We also knew what we planned to name her and the deep importance of the legacy left behind by the woman after who she'd be named.  Yet, I was unable to find anywhere online what the name means--the literal translation of the word parts.  Of course, we needed to know the meaning.  However, not being from Kenya or having much knowledge of the Kikuyu language, it was a challenge to figure it out.

My husband--who chose the name and taught me about the woman he admired greatly whose name it was--had a general translation, but we both wanted to get more to the core of it

Google was cute in its efforts to fill me in, yet that resource failed.   To know the meaning of the name Wangari just seemed impossible for me.  It got to the point where I was trying to find people who spoke the language so that she/he could help me better understand.  No luck there.

As I got closer to delivery, the thought of the name meaning was always in my mind, but with all that was going on, it wasn't as pressing an issue.  We were just going to go with the name.  It was a nice name. Strong. We knew it had something to do with a leopard.  

Well, it was around that same time that I came across Unbowed, a memoir by Wangari Maathai.  

It was such a great read.  Going in, my expectation was to learn more about this amazing, tree-growing woman who had given so much of herself for her country only to be mistreated and abused. By the time I was done with the book I knew all that I had hoped to learn and so much more.  One of the most notable points was that in her language, wa is how a word is made possessive, and ngari is how you say leopard.  Prior to the book, I didn't have knowledge of the language to know how the word was to be separated to decipher its meaning! 

It was in that book that I got the story of how her mother told her to tell the leopards she might encounter on her way to school that she is Wangari--she is of them.  They are the same.  She poses no threat.  All of that stunned me so much, and I remember sitting there reading those sentences like 😲.   Yes, at the fact that she encountered leopards as a child on her way to school, but mostly at how that name meaning was out of my grasp until I read her book. So simple right there in a few lines of text just waiting for me to read it and solve the riddle. 

I also learned in the book that the original spelling of her last name was Mathai.  When she divorced her husband (...or he abandoned her.  All sorts of drama there), she wanted to keep the name but wanted a slightly different spelling.  That's where the additional a came from.  She added it cause she wanted to! As we were filling out the paperwork to establish what our first daughter's name would be, we threw Maathai in at the very last minute.  So she has that one, too, as one of her middles.

All that to say, books are important!  Books bring clarity! Books reveal otherwise unknown information!  Books inspire! Books are powerful!

Ok, that's all.  I'll let Chaka sing it! 

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