Kechi Okwuchi Discusses Living Beyond Her Scars & Being an Inspiration in Today’s “Doing Life With…”

Doing Life With… is a BellaNaija Features series that showcases how people live, work, travel, care for their families and… everything in between. We are documenting the lives of all people and ensuring everyone is well-represented at BN.

Did you miss last week’s conversation with Bella Okagbue? You can catch up here

Today, we’re doing life with Kechi Okwuchi, a motivational speaker, singer and author, “More Than My Scars”.  Enjoy the conversation!

Hi Kechi, how do you feel today? 

I feel pretty good today.

Awesome! Give us a peep into your background and what part of your childhood influenced who you are today 

I was born and raised in Nigeria to a family of 4 – myself, my mom, my dad and my little sister. I grew up in a musically inclined family, with heavy influence from my dad in terms of music genre, and from my mom in terms of singing. My parents were also my biggest cheerleaders and never failed to make me feel special and beautiful. They were my very first sources of confidence, and I believe this played a significant role in my ability to maintain self-confidence after the plane crash. 

I went to Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, for high school up until the first term of SS3, after which the accident happened. I was 16. My interests in high school were public speaking, singing and writing fiction. The only school subjects I liked were Economics and English. 4 years after the plane crash, I continued high school here in America and got a scholarship to the University of St. Thomas in Houston TX, where I graduated with a First Class in Economics.

Oh wow. Congratulations

Haha, thank you. That was a long time ago. A few years after that, I ended up on America’s Got Talent as a singer-finalist, and a few years after that, I published ‘‘More Than My Scars’’. I still find it amazing that I somehow ended up pursuing my high school interests as an adult, despite all the twists and turns my life took in between.

Tell us about “More Than My Scars”

I wrote ‘‘More Than My Scars’’ for all burns and trauma survivors. I wanted people to feel seen in their pain, struggles and fears, to know that they were not alone in this difficult journey, and to see through my journey that growth can happen even in such arduous circumstances if we let it. Ideally, no one would have to go through what we go through, but the truth is that oftentimes, situations like this give rise to exceptional purpose. I wanted my readers to see the possibility of life after trauma, with mine as an example.

You said your family is music-inclined. What role has music played in your personal growth? 

I’ve always loved to sing. It runs in the family on my mom’s side. I was in a children’s choir in church and I sang at club and school events in high school. I even sang for my friends. I can remember friends who made special requests for specific songs and I was always happy to oblige for the fun of it. As I grew up, I could feel my voice getting better through my teens. It changed distinctly after the accident, in a good way. It was very apparent to anyone who’d ever heard me sing before, but there was no medical explanation. I wasn’t interested in finding one either. I was just grateful to have at least one positive, albeit random thing to have happened as a result of the plane crash. Music and singing became even more important to me post-accident. It was an escape, a safe haven because it was something I could do even when I couldn’t move my body. It brought me significant joy. After we moved to America, the hospital that cared for me made music therapy part of my treatment and it was one of the best decisions they could’ve ever made for me. Music healed parts of me that surgery could not reach.

That’s beautiful to hear

Right? I know!

It’s been 18 years since the plane crash, and you’re living an inspiring life. How has that shaped your overall perception of life?

I believe that human beings are so much more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. It’s how God made us. We are each equipped with an infinite capacity for strength, an ever-growing pool we can draw from to overcome different struggles. Life is hard. Some struggles will have us reaching deeper within ourselves than is comfortable to access that strength. But, if there is life and there is a will to live it, I believe we are more equipped for it than we realise.

Surviving a plane crash has transformed your life, forcing you to overcome many challenges. How has this experience shaped your ability to handle negativity

Honestly, there are so few negative in-person reactions that I can count them on one hand. One was a child, she saw my face and cried, and it surprised me mostly because of how rarely that happened with children. Children typically stare openly or ask their parents questions about my appearance very openly and directly, with no filter. But this child was different for some reason. I just shrugged and went about my day because I mean, it’s a kid. I can’t imagine getting upset at a child, haha. Another experience was a full-grown adult who looked at me distastefully as my friend — her niece — introduced me to her. I remember feeling embarrassed for the woman, because how can a grown adult have so little decorum? It was just weird and my friend was angry enough on my behalf so I moved on. Online trolls are the most prevalent but also the easiest to deal with ignore, block or report. Most times I ignore it because I love to give trolls absolutely nothing. Other times, I may respond with a video if I see a teaching opportunity. Ultimately, I find that I don’t tend to internalise insults to my appearance because people can’t insult something that I’ve fully embraced. They can’t make me hate these scars that are proof that my life is a miracle. Simple as that.

This is really inspiring, Kechi

Thank you.

What advice would you give to someone facing significant challenges or traumatic experiences?

With trauma, it’s important to give yourself the chance to mourn and to feel your feelings. Don’t ignore or push down your emotions. Face them. Surround yourself with the right support system. If you don’t have that, that’s okay; make time to see a professional who can help you unpack and confront your emotions. The hope is to reach a place where we can draw strength from the trauma to propel ourselves forward, but we can’t do this if we don’t face the feelings first. I pray that this is helpful to someone.

So what hobby or activity did you recently pick up and enjoy doing?

Songwriting, Although it’s less a hobby and more a job now. Also, fitness, running specifically. I’m trying to build my stamina.

What are the little things in your everyday life that bring you joy, get you excited or make you feel alive?

Singing, writing, video games, retail therapy, K-pop, roller coasters, reading fiction, and travelling.

In that order?

In no particular order, haha.

What’s a typical day in your life? 

If I don’t have a travel gig: wake up in the morning, check my work email, work my corporate job from home, workout if it’s a workout day, make and or edit social media content (prioritise paid promos), wrap up tasks for a corporate job, cook (I usually eat later in the day), eat, play video games or continue a show if I have time, then watch soothing, cooking YouTube videos in bed until I fall asleep. 

If I have a travel gig: pack the day before the trip, make sure I’ve practised the songs and or speech for the event, shop for performance outfits, and complete some tasks for my corporate job in advance of the trip. 

If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would they be and why?

Honestly, I’m not very good with this question but lately, I’ve been thinking that if it were possible, I’d love a chance to talk to my close friends who passed away in the plane crash, just to ask them how it is where they are, if they’re at peace, and to be reassured that their passing was painless.

What’s that unconventional thought you have that you think people might not agree with?

This is not a hot take, but there’s absolutely no rush in romance, at any age. Being single in your 30s with financial independence is a rare combo in today’s economy, no matter where you live. More people – more women – should embrace and enjoy it, not fear it or use it as a reason to rush to the altar before they’re truly prepared. But societal conventions won’t allow it.

I agree . Thank you for being on Doing Life With…, Kechi

Thank you for having me, BellaNaija.


Many thanks to Kechi Okwuchi for having this conversation with us and answering all our questions – and swiftly too, we must add.

Do you love this content, have any feedback for us or want to be a BellaNaija Features contributor? We’d love to read from you. Shoot us an email: Join us on Saturday for the next episode!

The post Kechi Okwuchi Discusses Living Beyond Her Scars & Being an Inspiration in Today’s “Doing Life With…” appeared first on BellaNaija – Showcasing Africa to the world. Read today!.

I wanted my readers to see the possibility of life after trauma, with mine as an example.
The post Kechi Okwuchi Discusses Living Beyond Her Scars & Being an Inspiration in Today’s “Doing Life With…” appeared first on BellaNaija – Showcasing Africa to the world. Read today!. Read More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *