Book: Serial Survivor: The Autobiography of a Man With Nine Lives

Author: Gershon Ogbuluijah

Review by: Ambassador Amina Smaila, consul general for the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Atlanta

Ambassador Amina Smaila

Serial Survivor is a 500-page, no-holds-barred autobiography of a man who has literally been through fire and rain and not only survived, but made great capital out of life’s vicissitudes.

It is the incredible story of the journey of a “man with nine lives,” from his birthplace of Ataba, deep in the bowels of the Niger Delta to several towns and villages across Nigeria and the world.

Ogbuluijah was first shipped away to Equatorial Guinea to trade with his grandfather after primary school because his mother couldn’t afford to send him to high school. In recounting his own path, he discusses universal issues like the effects of child marriage (of his mother) and divorce (of his parents) on his upbringing.

Hardship seems to follow Ogbuluijah; the book describes his survival of a kidnapping, two carjackings, a shootout with robbers and an assassination attempt — all in one lifetime. The story even weaves in some of the intrigues between locals and expatriate staff in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

Instead of losing his resolve and optimism, Ogbuluijah allows his gratitude to God to galvanize him toward triumph. He dedicates himself to solving a chieftaincy problem that lasted over 30 years and claimed over 30 lives in his community and becomes a man with deep family values — an adventurer, a nature lover and a fitness enthusiast who ran his first full marathon at over 60 years of age!

There are deep lessons for everyone in this tapestry of grit and resilience, focus and perseverance. Life’s curveballs, he believes, may be meant to build our motivation and resolve rather than to deflate us. As the author aptly says, “When God allows a ton of garbage to be dumped on you, it may just be to prepare you for future breakthroughs, and not necessarily kill you.”

Editor’s notes: Each year, Global Atlanta asks influential readers and community leaders to review the most impactful book they read during the course of the year. This endeavor has continued annually since 2010.

See last year’s full list of books on BookShop here, and all 2020 reader reviews here.

All books were chosen and reviews written independently, with only mild editing from our staff.