Seconde Nimenya has lived a fascinating multicultural life on two continents, and now she shares her story in her part-memoir, part self-help book Evolving Through Adversity. She even reveals in the book that she once had an addiction to self-help books, so I’m not surprised she wrote one, although it is different than any I’ve ever read before because her experiences differ so much from most American self-help authors.
Seconde was born and grew up in Burundi, a place I daresay most readers have never heard of — I admit I hadn’t. It’s a small country in Central Africa, bordering Rwanda and Tanzania. Beyond telling her personal story, Seconde’s book also reads a bit like the history of her country as it changes from being a colony of Germany and Belgium to an independent nation facing internal ethnic issues among its people. In the midst of this changing world, Seconde grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, and her stories of life in Africa are fascinating to read, from walking miles just to attend school, to being struck by lightning, and trying to make sense out of the various religious and cultural influences of Africa and the Western world she experienced. She dealt with poverty without even realizing that she was poor, and her family faced nearly being killed because of their race. North American readers will find themselves fascinated by all these cultural differences, as well as grateful for the blessings in their own lives.
Evolving Through Adversity’s second part details what it was like for Seconde to be an immigrant to North America. Because Seconde made education a priority in her life, she not only was able to attend a university in Burundi, but after she married and followed her Burundian husband first to Canada and then the United States, she earned an MBA from the University of Phoenix. Once in North America, she had to deal with culture shock as well as realizations about how her own culture’s expectations were limiting her. Ultimately, Seconde becomes a proponent for immigrants, helping them to find work, end spousal abuse, and celebrate their culture; she even organized a major International Women’s Day celebration. Most importantly, she reveals how she learned to be true to herself, speak up for herself, and ultimately, create a wonderful happy ending for her family.
While Evolving Through Adversity reads mostly like a memoir, Seconde hopes her story will inspire others. To that end, she includes “evolving” questions for readers to reflect upon their own experiences and encourages them also to face adversity and change for the better. While Seconde’s North American readers will have had different experiences than those of a woman who grew up in Africa; like Seconde, they may have been affected by war, experienced religious conflict, and they have certainly had to deal with family dynamics. As Seconde says about her experience healing family wounds, “I knew they had loved me the best they could, provided their life circumstances. I couldn’t hold them responsible for my life experiences even if they had influenced it in many ways. I had to accept them for who they are. And I wanted to tell them that, and free myself from any bondage.” She does achieve that freedom in a truly tear-jerking way.
I love that this book’s title is Evolving Through Adversity because while other books have been written about adversity, they are usually about overcoming or defeating it. I think “evolving” is a more powerful and truthful word because we don’t just defeat adversity; we really merge with it, collide with it, and then it changes us, allowing our souls to evolve. More than anything, the evolution of our souls should be our purpose on this Earth. Seconde succeeds in that goal, creating her own little heaven on Earth amid all the heartache, war, and adventure she experienced over a very full life — and she’s only in her forties. I hope someday to find out what is yet in store for this remarkable woman on her evolving and inspiring journey.
For more information about Evolving Through Adversity and Seconde Nimenya, visit the author’s website.