Holloway prison visit inspires book penned by Hornchurch explosion resident
PUBLISHED: 17:22 14 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:22 14 February 2017
An author who writes about making lemonade when life throws lemons maintains his optimism despite having to abandon his home following an explosion.
Emeka Egbuonu, 30, who lived at the Bridge Point building, Southend Arterial Road, Hornchurch, celebrated the release of his third book, My Sister’s Pain, with a prestigious event at the Hackney Empire on Friday.
Despite waiting to be rehoused following the explosion which rocked his building on January 23, Emeka has not let the inconvienience dampen his quest to spread a message of hope.
“I did a talk at Holloway Prison a few years ago,” said the former Barking and Dagenham College lecturer.
“It gave me the idea to explore sisterhood because of some of the things they [the prisoners] shared with me.
“After I did my talk, a woman spoke to be about domestic abuse. She lost her patience and attacked her partner and ended up in prison.
“The powerful thing I took from it was the sisterhood they shared through their shared experiences.
“They came together in a negative situation but were seeing each other through their sentences, supporting each other.”
My Sister’s Pain focuses on two sisters, in their 20s, who tread different paths in their quests to find happiness.
Singer Jamelia and Christina Matovu, a season four The Voice finalist, made guest appearances at the book launch.
Emeka is no stranger to hardship, having grown up on the tough estates in Hackney and his many years as an inner city youth worker.
His first book Consequences – Breaking the negative cycle was a collection of academic thought and opinion from those who worked in the public and voluntary sectors about the state of today’s youth culture.
“There needs to be more in place for young people who are not academic,” continues Emeka.
“Young people feel alienated if they make mistakes within education. There needs to be more than alternative education packages, it feels like a punishment to them.
“Sometimes they have problems at home and we need to get past that before we can even begin to teach them in a classroom.”
He encourages young people, and those that work with them, to find a sense of purpose.
“A community can push a young person in the right direction,” he adds.
The father’s second book, Ambitions of the Deprived, focuses on four teenagers who make a plege to help one another in life no matter what happens.
One of the teenagers is convicted of a joint enterprise crime – meaning they were found guilty of another person’s offence.
“The book is about a friend helping a friend to find justice while fighting their own battles.”
At the moment, Emeka’s battle is trying to make a home for himself and six-year-old daughter Summer.
“It’s been really hard to be honest,” he continues.
“My daughter was at home with her mum and I was out promoting the book, when she called to say there had been an explosion.
“By the time I got back, I could see my side of the building up in smoke.
“I don’t have access to my building and I have had to spend money on things I already have but can’t get.”
But Emeka still presses on with writing and motivational speaking engagements that has seen him give lectures at Oxford, Cambridge and Durham universities, and Doncaster Prison.
“The message I am trying to share with people is that no matter what the pain is, it’s about supporting each other and helping each other to grow.”