Find Me Unafraid
Find Me Unafraid is a protest anthem cloaked in a love song. Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner, an impoverished black African activist
and a privileged white American college student, turn a working relationship into a romance during her semester abroad. But theirs is not a
fleeting tryst: Their bond becomes the foundation for a wide-ranging economic empowerment enterprise, Shining Home for Communities. First,
violence forces Odede to flee Kenya, and the couple winds up switching places: He’s at Wesleyan, confused by the decadence of workout gyms,
and she’s in Kibera, running the school for girls that they have built together. This is problematic territory, but the authors go beyond
“love conquers all” platitudes to reveal the ravages of colonialism, the gross inequities of global capitalism, the violence of racial and
sexual hatred, and in spite of all, the possibilities and imperative for community-based, well-funded solutions – rooted in basic human
Odede and Posner are both adept and likable storytellers who are acutely aware of the clichés of cultural tourism and missionary zeal. They
take turns telling the story of their courtship and collaboration. Together, they render human and even heroic efforts to bring education,
water, medicine, capital, dignity, and hope to the desperately oppressed slum of Kibera. If Africa tends to be rendered in the problematic
clichés of celebrity noblesse oblige – the passive victim awaiting our rescue – this book provides a remedy on the most intimate of levels.
It also deals honestly with the cultural and political pitfalls of a story about a privileged outsider arriving in a poverty-stricken foreign
land. Between them, Kennedy and Jessica know when to allow the other time to speak, and appropriately it is Kennedy’s story that is at the
center of the book.
- Evelyn McDonnell
2016 finalist judge
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Excerpts from the book
“I wanted to believe that there was something out there, something greater than my poverty and my suffering,
but every day seemed harder than the one before. … I knew that somewhere in this, there was a choice – I just
didn’t know what it was.”
“’Shining Hope for Communities is a powerful name because it’s not only in Kibera where we will provide hope.
We are going to shine in other slums too. Let’s start with Kibera, but I believe in the future we’re going
to go beyond Kibera to shine hope everywhere. Eventually the world will see the light that was lit in a ghetto
“As he turns off the lights, I feel the crushing weight of the responsibility he carries. I think of what it
means to be a teenager in America, necessarily pushing boundaries, making expected mistakes. Here there is no
margin for error: a mistake, no matter how insignificant, dashes any small hopes to break the cycle of poverty.
Here in Kibera the world is relentless and unforgiving.”