Where the Children Take Us
How One Family Achieved the Unimaginable
by Zain E. Asher
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Pub Date 26 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 21 Jun 2022
In this spellbinding memoir, popular CNN anchor Zain E. Asher pays tribute to her mother’s strength and determination to raise four successful children in the shadow of tragedy.
Awaiting the return of her husband and young son from a road trip, Obiajulu Ejiofor receives shattering news. There’s been a fatal car crash, and one of them is dead.
In Where the Children Take Us, Obiajulu’s daughter, Zain E. Asher, tells the story of her mother’s harrowing fight to raise four children as a widowed immigrant in South London. There is tragedy in this tale, but it is not a tragedy. Drawing on tough-love parenting strategies, Obiajulu teaches her sons and daughters to overcome the daily pressures of poverty, crime and prejudice—and much more. With her relentless support, the children exceed all expectations—becoming a CNN anchor, an Oscar-nominated actor—Asher’s older brother Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)—a medical doctor, and a thriving entrepreneur.
The generations-old Nigerian parenting techniques that lead to the family's salvation were born in the village where young Obiajulu and Arinze meet with their country on the brink of war. Together, they emigrate to London in the 1970s to escape the violence, but soon confront a different set of challenges in the West.
When grief threatens to engulf her fractured family after the accident, Obiajulu, suddenly a single mother in a foreign land, refuses to accept defeat. As her children veer down the wrong path, she instills a family book club with Western literary classics, testing their resolve and challenging their deeper understanding. Desperate for inspiration, she plasters newspaper clippings of Black success stories on the walls and hunts for overachieving neighbors to serve as role models, all while running Shakespeare theatre lines with her son and finishing homework into the early morning with Zain. When distractions persist, she literally cuts the TV cord and installs a residential pay phone.
The story of a woman who survived genocide, famine, poverty, and crushing grief to rise from war torn Africa to the streets of South London and eventually the drawing rooms of Buckingham Palace, Where the Children Take Us is an unforgettable portrait of strength, tenacity, love, and perseverance embodied in one towering woman.
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