Life lessons from an icon

by Chenai Mugunyani

“If you can only be tall because someone else is on their knees, then you have a serious problem.”

I honestly did not know much about Toni Morrison until a few months before her passing, a friend of mine raved about her and was always suggesting this book or that book which really got me all curious and I still plan on getting her recommendations.

I obviously couldn’t be one to speak, so in my friends ‘voice’, below are a few life lessons from the icon.

Toni Morrison was one of the first black writers who shook the world. She wrote and published her first book at thirty-nine years old (it is never too late). She wrote books she wanted to read and was not afraid of the ‘white gaze’. She wrote for the black woman and her writing challenged the people and show them that they were smarter and more intelligent than perceived.

‘Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all’

Her style of writing takes you through a roller coaster of emotions and though at first glance, her work is unfathomable, it commands attention and respect.

She was never afraid to talk about race and how it shaped how the black people are seen. She made black people feel seen and her charisma and characters had charisma and relatable personalities, they loved, feared, soared, fell and sinned. She showed the human in each character.

‘Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.’

She gave black women a voice and being a Nobel Prize laureate proved a black woman can be anything she wants to be.

I honestly cannot wait to get my hands on some of her work, to be moved by emotions and experience the greatness she left behind. Though I may suffer the shame of only getting to know about her very late in my life, I am sure it will never be too late for me, or anyone else for that matter to learn from her, be bold and make a difference, after all, that is what most of us want right, to leave a mark, to make a difference?

Below are a few books that are on my Toni M. must-read list:

-The Bluest Eye



-Song of Solomon

-God help the Child


-A Mercy


-Tar Baby



-The Source of Self Regard

She has more than the above mentioned, so It wouldn’t hurt to exhaust yourself in all her work overtime, I know I sure will.

Thing is, we are all waiting to make a difference or waiting for someone’s story to change us somehow, thing is, just do it, do not wait, believe in yourself. In a nutshell, that is what I got from my friend when she spoke of T.M.

Thanks, R.

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