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LOUD WHISPERS: Tears For The Victim. Cheers For The Survivor.

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Saturday, June 17th, 2017

As she lost consciousness on the doomed Sosoliso flight on December 10th 2005, Kechi Okwuchi went into a deep void. She did not know exactly what had happened till she woke up in her hospital bed in Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg. Her condition was so bad that she had to be placed in an induced coma. For years, she fought to get her life back. Every time she thought about her classmates, the children  who perished in the plane crash, alongside so many others, she was determined to forge ahead and make the best of the second chance she had been given.  It took four years for her to return to school and finish her education. Today she is about to got to Graduate School for an MBA. She has a lot of scars, an everlasting reminder of her ordeal and a harsh introduction to strangers. Yet when you listen to her speak, the scars vanish and all you are left with is the strength and resilience of this awesome young woman.  Recently, she sang Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ on America’s Got Talent. Please Google it if you have not watched her performance.

If you do not have tears in your eyes (regardless of your gender) I suggest you prick yourself with a needle to check if your blood is still red. Many people who have watched the clip of her performance were moved to tears, and from my own reaction, I know they were tears of joy and gratitude.  To have survived a plane crash, dozens of surgeries, unimaginable pain, long years of rehabilitation, and go on to become a successful young woman full of passion and dreams, is truly amazing. Not only has Kechi done very well academically, she has a great singing talent. According to her this is how she got through her long period of convalescence, when there was nothing else for her to do. I watched a TedxEuston talk she gave in 2015. She is not thirty yet, but Kechi is very clear on what she wants to do with the rest of her life. She wants to help people. She wants to encourage her peers. And she wants to sing. Kechi’s fascinating story features the love and strength of her family and friends who never left her side, and who moved heaven and earth to get her the help she needed. Her strong faith in God and the mercies she has received serve as a strong compass for her. Kechi continues to thrive because the people in her life, as well as strangers she met along the way cared enough to hold her hand and see her through her long, arduous journey, which is still very much in progress.

Kechi Okwuchi

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Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of, an online community for women. She can be reached at

22 Responses

  1. Two tragic stories, one surely with a happy ending and the other just totally tragic. Poverty is tragic, and no matter how rich some people are in this world it’ll always be a collective tragedy as long as some people still find it almost impossible to basically just live due to financial constraints. Will poverty ever end in this world?

  2. Such emotional narratives. A lot are happening in this world and for many it’s just eroded with tears, sadness and poverty. I think what made the difference in these two stories is that one had able people to fall back on and the other not so much. There’s a lot to be done to totally rid poverty from this society. May Hajara rest in peace, or whatever was her real name

  3. This write up really got me all emotional and I just can’t hold back the tears from my eyes. Am glad Kechi is Hale and hearty, I promise to always be of help to those who are in need even if it takes a whole lot of pecuniam from me.

  4. Thank God kechi is a living testimony of a fatal accident. Thumps up to you kechi for not allowing your condition water down your talent, R. I. p to you hajara till we meet in Glory.

  5. I’m moved to tears sincerely. The story of Kechi is one to be told continuously to give hope to people in distress and to show the will to live. God bless the people that were around her and not giving up as well. I wish Kechi all the very best in her endeavours. May she become a testimony all over the world.
    RIP Hajara. I hope your death would give light to people surrounding you for them to live aright.
    Touching stories​ i must confess.

  6. So many things happen and ends in a sad way. Kechi is happy because her parents gave her the support. Loads of people have a lot of things hanging on ther neck because they have nothing to lean on. Let’s support those around us

  7. I love this comparison. I like this and it’s the reality we have in our society. I hope we don’t just read and shift it off our memory. We should move on to make things better even as we read this inspiring article.

  8. I don’t know why we love to stretch the hands of ownership as Nigerians when we see something buoyant. If she didn’t have good parents and support system, she would have died. It was a national disaster but I am not sure the government kept tabs on her, Now, everyone is forming teary eyes and claiming that she’s Nigerian.

    If she didn’t have the necessary aid, she would have ended up like the other lady. Please let’s try to be more responsible as a nation.

  9. Hmm… This is quite emotional.

    I cheers to Kechi and I also cheers to other women who have gone through hell and never got back from it.

  10. This is quite lugubrious. R.I.P to those that lost their lives in the crash and double cheers to Kechi. You are a rare gem, i’m glad you got talent. Keep it up!

  11. We like attaching to greatness in this country. No remembrance whatsoever for the victims. We neglected them and now, we are forming attachment to someone who survived against all odds.

  12. This is very extensive and we wish we would do something. I respect the inner strength that Kechi has and the family bonding. I mean, we often run away from our extended families but we can see that the strength derived was pulled from every member of the family.

  13. I was watching the news about the fire outbreak in london and how people have started donating and giving their home to those that were affected in the fire, and I thought to myself, can we be this compassionate in this land? Do we have an idea of what Compassion is? I don’t think so but we totally love to magnet with success. That’s what I am seeing now.

    If kechi didn’t talk about the crash would she be accepted?

  14. This is an inspiring piece. A call for us to be our brother’s keeper. A call for parents to understand what companion is with their children. We can see the clear difference here. there’s nothing like having a good companion in one’s life no matter the level one is in.

  15. I respect this analogy a lot. Lots people die in their situations because they have no place of refuge. We have failed to understand that Famliy is refuge, before you seek one outside there, there must be one at home.

  16. Waoh………… Two tragic stories. One ended well because she received overwhelming Love, support, care, assistance, words of encouragement, shoulder to lean on and the other lost her lift because she lacked all of these. Life is indeed a misery. Cheers to Kechi for not giving up on life and for staying strong. Rip Hajara….. And to many Hajara out there, please stay strong. God loves you and cares for you.

  17. Such a bitter experience. So touching and heart breaking. May hajara soul continue to rest in peace. And to our sister kelechi more strength.

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