Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 8th 2015 Contents A29
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BY ERLINE ANDREWS
When high achieving MBA hold-
er Akosua Dardaine-Edwards went
to take up a job in war-ravaged
Uganda advising a women-led
business there, she wasn t expect-
ing to be the one who was taught.
But that s what happened when
she met women who made their liv-
ing off the land, lived without wash-
ing machines, air-conditioners or
even electricity, and didn t know
where the Caribbean was. The
women nevertheless surprised her
with things she didn t know about
them, Africa and herself.
Dardaine-Edwards is sharing her
experience and what she learned in
the book Nyabo (Madam)---Why Are
You Here? The Truth about Living
in Service, Love, and Personal Power,
launched last month and now avail-
able at Nigel R Khan bookstores,
Amazon.com and the Barnes &
It s Dardaine-Edwards second
book. The first, What Did I Learn
Today? Lessons on the Journey to
Unconditional Self-Love, details how
she overcame a rocky marriage, bitter
divorce and public firing as CFO of
the political hot potato Udecott.
After those experiences, Dard-
aine-Edwards, who travels all over
the world as a specialist in promoting
entrepreneurship among women in
disadvantaged communities, spent
a year and three months in Africa.
She had to come to terms with the
mistakes she was making in what
she valued in life and how she viewed
herself. The women she interacted
with seemed to intuitively guess her
"I thought when they invited me
over there I m going to teach them,"
she said during an interview at her
Flagstaff apartment. "In the rural
areas there s no TV, what we consider
things of comfort, so [I thought] I
would be going with a broader per-
spective on life.
"Then I m just in the yard talking
to them," she continued, "and they ll
come up with Madam, you trying
to hide stuff and it coming out your
Dardaine-Edwards said she d hear
such comments wherever she went
in the country and even from new
"They re like, So you come here
and you don t even know your own
self, " she recalled.
At first it caught her off guard
and she didn t know what to make
"I ll be, like, Them is obeah peo-
ple! Like what?! "
She grew to accept and appreciate
the uncanny perceptiveness.
"I come from the Western society,
where you learn things in books or
in school. They don t have that," she
said. But, she added, "They re very,
The people she met learned
through the sharing of communal
"Every Sunday everybody will
come together in a little open place
in the village," she said. "They ll sit
down, the old ladies teaching the
young ladies a dance: This is the
dance for harvest, this is the dance
for celebration, this is how you treat
a man, and this is how you treat
Much of the book chronicles con-
versations, personal reflections and
experiences that changed Dardaine-
Edwards thinking about herself, her
relationships, her country and the
purpose of life.
Here s an excerpt:
"Madam, did your country ever
have a war?"
"Not even once?"
"We never had a war."
"Madam, you are serious?"
"So, you people, do you fight for
"Not really. We like to party."
"Madam, would you fight for
"Well, I never really thought about
"So what do you think about?
What occupies your mind?"
I chuckle. "Football and bake!"
"Madam, you are unconscious,
you are unconscious."
I was still a little confused, what
is she talking about?
"Madam, you walk around not
conscious of the things that you do,
what you think. That is being uncon-
scious. You get me? Your purpose
is very important. It is the signal
and it is the flare for your direction
in the fog. You walk around without
intent; you walk around blind.
I had never spoken to Mary for
more than ten minutes before this
conversation! I would see her in the
yard and would either say good
morning or wave at her from the
other side of the compound! So with
this in mind I thought this must be
some sort of test.
Nyabo---Why Are You Here brings
to mind Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth
Gilbert s travelogue about a life-
changing trip to Europe and Asia.
Dardaine-Edwards read the book
and admits it was an influence.
But she was most inspired by var-
ious life coaches, who she quotes
throughout the book. Among them
are Iyanla Vanzant, Danielle LaPorte
and Byron Katie. She insists, how-
ever, her intention isn t to preach to
"I m not trying to teach nobody,"
she said. "This is what I learnt. I
want to put it out there, and you
take from it whatever you want."
A host of stars paid tribute to Steve
Martin as he received the American Film
Institute's life achievement award, its
highest honour, on Thursday.
Steve Carell, Diane Keaton and Martin
Short were among those who joined Martin
at the Los Angeles ceremony.
Tina Fey called him "the first rock star
comedian", while Jack Black sang The
Thermos Song from The Jerk.
"How do I top this parade of stars who
have been so, so funny?" said Martin, as he
received his award. "Easy."
"Tonight is especially meaningful to me,"
he added, "because when I was a kid, I used
to get all dressed up and play AFI Lifetime
Martin, who turns 70 this year, is best
known for films including Parenthood, The
Man With Two Brains, Planes, Trains &
Automobiles and Roxanne.
He is also an author and a prolific banjo
player, releasing a Bluegrass album in 2009
called The Crow.
"Usually, when I hear white people
playing banjos, it's time for me to get the
hell out of that neighbourhood," quipped
Queen Latifah, who branded Martin "the
whitest man in America."
Martin, who has won an Emmy, four
Grammys, a Kennedy Center Honour and an
Honorary Oscar, concluded on a humble
"Last year I was walking down the street
and a young girl about 17 said to me: 'Did
you do that (1979) movie The Jerk? I said,
yes, I did. "And she said, 'You gonna do
another movie?'" (BBC)
Akosua Dardaine-Edwards poses with a fan at the launch of her book at Nalis. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
Steve Martin receives AFI tribute
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