Her Roots


by J.J. Lanji Ouko
Published 2016
4 Stars


“I’m the only constant in the equation in my life, hard as it may be, I try to avoid wasting time on any meaningless variables.”

Lanji Ouko takes us through her experiences from her university life until after all while living in three different cities. She documents her highs and lows in such a congenial way that had me laughing and thinking really hard at different points in the book. Her experiences are so relatable and she was just brave enough to share it with everyone while most people cannot stomach the thought of putting their downfalls out there. It’s because of her experiences that she started a ladies only club where she aims to bring together women so that they can build each other among other things.

“Only reason I am keen on helping bring other women up, is that I know what it is like to have other women bring each other down.”

She takes us through her life in Leeds when everything was looking up and how it all began to crumble because of a few bad choices here and there. There were warning signs but she overlooked them and found herself in a situation she could not get herself out of without some help. It was already too late and the mess was too big to sweep under the rug. She got the help she needed and decide to turn that situation into a stepping stone. In between the mess and trying to figure out how to make it all better, she had to make decisions that she never thought she would. That’s when she had to go to Kampala to finish her studies which was a contrast to her life in Leeds but she trudged on and made it.

“If I can risk taking a selfie from a cracked screen, I can definitely take greater risks in life.”

Done with school and back in Nairobi living her life, Lanji ways in on some of the things she has come across in what I may call the ‘Nairobi Culture’. She talks about the friendships and how feeble most of them are. She mentions that many of them don’t contribute to building your life in any way with the endless empty conversations. Life after graduation and the search for the perfect job or a job that can pay the bills. The idea most people have after graduation is that the life is about to start where they can get that dream apartment with the furniture that you have been pinning to your board on Pinterest. I had those dreams too. Ha-ha!

“Tarmacking has turned into a career on its own and I bet I can claim my pension soon.”

Haven’t we all gone through that tarmacking phase in life? The countless cover letters I have written at this point I could be a professional in that sector. It seems like such an endless thing but it comes to an end at some point sooner rather than later preferably. She made some fantastic points about it all throughout her book. She weighs in on feminism and mentions how she faced backlash from fellow women when she hosted an event for ladies in their early twenties. I love the fact that she did not let that stop her from trying to empower women. She moved on from that to a members only ladies’ club.

“Criticism however, is necessary for growth, but people who are too critical and never see any good in others or anything probably suffer from deep-seated, unresolved issues of self-doubt. Hope that they recover.”

What I took from the book is the fact that today we are all expected to follow a certain path and god forbid you veer away from it! Go to school get a degree, do your masters, get a job and it all feels too robotic. The expectations rarely match up with reality. The pressure that people have to have a defined kind of life has made people lie and pretend that they are indeed living a perfect life even when they are nowhere near being okay. People are too afraid to ask for help because they don’t want to be seen as failures in whatever they are doing because what is being portrayed on everybody’s page on social media is how well they are. And so you assume that you too should be doing well and then you put on a mask and go on pretending all is good until it’s too late.

“Our generation forces us to put up a show of perfection.”

Her chapter ‘For the Gram’ looks at how people will go out of their way to post the likable pictures on Instagram just to show everyone else how well your life is going. This has become such a problem among people our age. And it doesn’t stop there because people tend to overshare. There is a need to put everything out there on social media even when there is no point in posting certain things. Another problem with the selfie generation is taking the follower/friend count too seriously and getting annoyed when someone unfriends/unfollows them on social media even when you guys aren’t that close. You are the kind of friends who only talk when you randomly bump into each other, the no text or phone call kind of friends.


She digs into savings and investments by having insights from different people on how to go about it all. She takes a look at real estate and the realization that getting that dream apartment or something close to it will take some time for many. She also talks about the fact that people will progress in life at different speeds and there is nothing wrong with that. We all need to accept that our paths will not be the same and the bumps will come at various points in our growth. There is the whole thing about cutting out people in your life who are not helping you grow or who are continuously dragging you down with their negative energy. She talks about how she rebuilt her relationship with God and how the spiritual journey has been impactful in her life.

“I’m not conceited, but I love myself.”

There are so many good things I can point out from the book but I will leave it there or else I’ll end up quoting the whole of it. This is a book every young girl about to head out to university should pick up. It will be something that will prepare you for all the things that may come your way. It’s something everyone fresh out of university should read so that you can know you are not alone in this world of perfected selfies on your newsfeed/timeline.

This is a book I can most certainly say will make an impact in many lives of the people in their twenties struggling in silence. The words given by the author would not have been as receivable as they were if they came from someone older giving her experiences. The beauty of the book was the raw honesty as she was not afraid to bare her soul with us. This was not the typical self-help book where the person has found success and is looking back to the life before. It’s simply a ‘write as you go on with life’ kind of book.

The book is currently not being sold in bookstores and as far as I know the physical copies are sold out but will be reprinted soon. The book is only available on Amazon and I urge you to pick it up. It was a funny way to look at the things I see happening every day in the lives of my fellow twenty somethings. Have some wine with this and laugh a bit.

Get your kindle copy here!



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