5 Books That have Inspired Chimwemwe John Paul Manyozo

I am Chimwemwe John Paul Manyozo from Malawi. In 2015, I received a Chevening Award to pursue a master’s in Development Studies at the University of Sussex. I am a change-maker; international development, media and communication specialist; and a blogger. I recently co-founded Maphunziro265, an initiative that provides scholarships, mentorship, and training to empower the youth in Malawi. I would like to share five books that have shaped my thinking and actions.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This classic, published in 1937, remains relevant today. It touches on ways to make people like you, win people to your way of thinking, and change people without arousing resentment. From this book, I learnt a great deal about networking and relationships, including the power of complimenting people and that people who have messed up are aware of this so saying ‘I told you so’ does not help. Also, people place a special value on their name. It is therefore important to get to know people by their name, no matter how difficult it is. Finally, it is sometimes better to lose an argument in order to keep a friend.

Decolonizing the Mind by Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o explores ‘whether Africans should study and write in European languages instead of their native tongues.’ He explains why he writes in Gĩkũyũ and Swahili, not English. I read this book in 2008 as part of my undergraduate course at the University of Malawi. I found this book to be very relevant to my experience, as English is often used even when it is very clear that those present cannot converse in English. Furthermore, wisdom, enlightenment, and progress are not associated with vernacular languages. This doesn’t make sense because there is a great wealth of wisdom in vernacular languages. I would encourage all people whose first language is not English to read this book.

The Myth of More and Other Lifetraps That Sabotage the Happiness You Deserve by Joseph Robert Novello

This is a book for people who are chasing after happiness. It argues that people confuse happiness with pleasure, therefore they set themselves up for continual failure. According to Novello, ‘happiness lies in accepting who we are right now and what we have right now.’ Since reading this book in 2017, I have been working on refocusing on my priorities and leading a life of true happiness.

The Bible

The Bible is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures that Jews and Christians consider to be a product of divine inspiration. Many different authors contributed to the 66 books of the Bible. I read this book regularly for knowledge, inspiration, and wisdom. When many things in life seem to not make sense, I find refuge and solace in the Bible. When I am grieving, I gain comfort from the Bible. I believe this explains why I read it regularly. The Bible has helped to build my faith in both man and God, which has driven my actions in many ways. The Bible has greatly taught me love. This contributed to my community work in youth empowerment and Maphunziro265. I would recommend that every person read the Bible, regardless of their faith.

Like a Virgin by Richard Branson

This book applies to startups or people working to improve their leadership. It is also an excellent motivational book. I read this book in 2017 after keeping it on the shelf for some months. I have already applied the lessons from this book to Maphunziro265, and we are seeing greater results. I would encourage all people running community-based organisations or startups to read this book. This will help you to avoid some crucial mistakes. Most importantly, it will teach you the importance of valuing people in your organisation or network.

I would like to encourage people to not only buy books to fill the shelf, but also to read those books. There is great insight in books that will save you from making mistakes. For those in business, it will help you to be way ahead of your competition.

The blog was first published on Chevening Blog as part of the world book day series