Book Review - Making The Cut

Making The Cut: A Motivational Book For Young People Everywhere
Prof. Kasonde Bowa. 2011. 163 pp. K100.

I didn’t know about this book until August 2014. During the Reformed Family Conference of 2014 at Lusaka Baptist Church, Prof. Kasonde Bowa had set up a table where he was adverting and selling this book. I stopped by the table to take a look at the book, and instantly fell in love with it. I purchased a copy, and also managed to convince the professor to join me on a live phone-in programme on Radio Christian Voice the following day. We discussed the topic, is medical science compatible with the Christian faith?

It was a lively and engaging programme, and the professor excelled on all fronts. His wealth of knowledge and experience was phenomenal. Due to popular demand, I don’t know how many times the radio station repeated the recorded version of that programme within a space of three months. We also talked about his book, what it was all about, and what prompted him to write the book.

Prof. Bowa, is an accomplished Christian medical doctor, professor of urology and founding dean of the school of medicine at the Copperbelt University. Making The Cut is a self-published autobiography that chronicles the life and experiences of the author from his humble birth in a nondescript village of Mwense to his ascendancy to world fame and acclaim. Reading this book reminded me of the autobiography of Vernon Mwaanga, The Extraordinary Life, which I read when I was still in secondary school.  

At a young age, the author has accomplished so much, culminating into an award of recognition in 2004 by the American College of Surgeons as an International Guest Scholar, which is a prestigious award given to promising young surgeons from outside the USA. The author recalls events and experiences with such vividness and clarity that makes the story come alive as if you are watching a movie. There is a warmth, humour, stark realism and honesty in the story – everything is told as it is, warts and all – the pleasant and not so pleasant. Things that some people would be mortified to talk about, he recounts with alacrity and unashamed honesty, whether in his own personal life or the life of his family.

For example, the writer talks about his nocturnal misfortunes in the first three years of his boarding life at Munali Secondary School. He used to wet his bed, not because he had a problem with his blander, but because being young, he was too scared to go outside and use the toilet in the middle of the night from the comfort and safety of his dormitory.      

You might be tempted to think that you are reading a work of fiction, but no, this is a true story told from the first-person perspective by a man whose first childhood dream career was to become a writer. The readers like me who predate the millennial generation will recognise many notable and eminent Zambians in the book, some who are still with us today. I phoned one of them recently, and we laughed off the funny incidents narrated in the book. To say that the author is a very accomplished and successful person in his profession is an understatement, but he does not recount this with any sense of pride, but with Christian humility.

Apart from telling the story of the author, the book also gives us a glimpse into rural Zambia in the 1970s, and contrasts that with the urban setting around the same time. As he tells the story, cultural and traditional practices he encountered are set within their context and their rationale explained, and critiqued with present biblical and medical knowledge.

Prof. Bowa wrote the book to motivate young people to pursue the medical profession or any other career, and the book does not fail to do just that. It provides many lessons for the various stages of life, growth and maturation for everyone. It has a glossary (meaning of difficult words) at the end which enhances the reader’s vocabulary. The writer also includes important pictures at the end which accentuate the story of the book. He is not ashamed to extol the shaping influence that the Christian faith had on him from the time he got converted. It was that conversion experience which built in him the passion to pursue the medical profession.

Being a self-published book, it is not lacking on a few shortcomings. There are a number of typos and grammatical mistakes which could have easily been dealt with by a good editor before the book was published.

Speaking personally, this book was a thoroughly enjoyable read. It moved me to praise and gratitude to God for blessing Zambia which such a man whose medical knowledge and skill continues to powerfully impact many lives. I highly recommend this book, and urge parents to buy it for their children, and encourage them to read it. Bookworld and Book Cellar have the book in stock for K100. This is a story celebrating hard work, dedication, discipline and the grace of God. And so far, as I know, Making The Cut is about a life well-lived to the glory of God. 


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