Detailing the entirety of Ahmed Choonara’s life, The Cycle of Life takes the reader on an extraordinary journey, from his childhood spent under the yoke of Apartheid in South Africa, to becoming the first Principal of a Further Education College to be appointed in the UK from an Asian Heritage background.
The author writes with both sensitivity and hard facts as he details the impact of apartheid on his childhood, e.g. lack of facilities for secondary and higher education and segregation, and recalls the moment in 1957 when a flying brick hit his head, leaving him paralysed down his right side and particularly his right hand. Four years later his father died, a turning point, propelling Ahmed and his brother into the UK to further Ahmed’s education.
The latter half of the book deals with both his educational experiences at college and university with some humour and his lengthy teaching career. He also details his three year secondment to Zambia on an Overseas Development programme with a voluntary post with the World Bank Educational Renewal programme. He explains the death of his close friend, whilst in the custody of Apartheid’s security apparatus, and the impact of this on others.
In 2013, Ahmed was awarded an OBE for services to Further Education. This book chronicles his exceptional rise in the hope that readers will feel inspired and push against the glass ceiling to reach any goals they choose.