These things I have spoken to you, that in Me, you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)
FROM TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH
Dr. Dannah McKellar Ntaka is pretty big on spiritual hymns.
So much, in fact, that this Texas-based, Christian-based writer has named her trio of books after songs, that, by all accounts, helped her press and navigate through arguably her life’s darkest season.
“The memoirs began as a journal to help me work through an incredible time in our lives,” Dr. Ntaka, a native of Tyler, Texas, told Making Headline News during a recent interview. “After reading a few entries to my dearest aunt, she suggested that the stories be published so others could be healed. My aunt was impressed with the details of my journal entries.”
Still, Dr. Ntaka felt greatly inspired to move forward with the memoirs, the first of which was released in 2019.
Ntaka’s How Did I Make It Over?: Triumphs, Trials, Tribulations & Treasures On My Life’s Journey made its ceremonious debut that year and was revised this year.
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Consequently, Dr. Ntaka witnessed the release of Oh Happy Day: Family Unity, Restoration & Purpose, her sophomore book that debuted in March 2023.
This written work is one she suitably describes as “a real thriller,” in large part because, according to this accomplished author, “the action happens in this book.”
And then there’s By and By: Creating Sunshine After Grief, Dr. Ntaka’s forthcoming memoir that is currently in the works and scheduled to be released in August 2023.
Dr. Ntaka’s books are available via https://www.iamdannah.com and where books are sold.
“These memoirs are certainly a vision from God,” Dr. Ntaka told MHN.
As she recalls, the story opens sometime in 2015, during which her Dr. Ntaka’s family is frantically looking for her eldest son amid a minor disagreement between his father and him, a development she sensed was leading to the possibility of divorce, she explained.
“Upset about the family unit being different, “Toivo Kotyi (Ntaka) separated from the family,” said Dr. Ntaka, explaining the rash of events surrounding her memoirs. “Unbeknown to us, our son, T. Kotyi, was leisurely backpacking around Mexico, Canada, and the United States as he worked to figure out some career and life choices. We spent a few months searching for our precious son, whom we love dearly.”
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Fortunately for Dr. Ntaka, she and her husband, Dr. Dikela Ferguson Ntaka, “were blessed” to be reconnected with their son.
She recalls how T. Kotyi’s siblings, Tulani Khya Ntaka and Themba Kazi Ntaka, were “overjoyed” to reunite with their brother.
“After pensively surfing on the ocean and working as a lifeguard all summer, T. Kotyi returned home in late 2015,” Ntaka recalls. “Our reunion was powerful. Our family of five was elated to be together once again and I began happy entries in my journal again.”
In essence, Dr. Dannah McKellar Ntaka’s initial book ends happily with T. Kotyi’s return, a life-altering development that lasted for the next year-and-a-half before tragic ultimately stuck the Ntakas’ household.
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Kotyi subsequently died in February 2017 as a result of a freak accident involving a pit bull he adopted.
“In a moment that no parent can imagine, I remembered my aunt’s suggestion and returned to the book,” said Dr. Ntaka, explaining the rash of developments that led to the production of her memoirs. “Once our brilliant son returned home, we were busy with family counseling, dinners, working in the family business and planning for a stellar future. I was so busy, I forgot to keep writing. Writing helped me feel alive and normal after this traumatic heartbreak. I kept thinking that the events were over. Once I finished one book another event would happen causing me to open the sequel.
“I purposely spread the events over three books because the events were so oppressive. My grief journey was rough, but these books, the speaking, and singing engagements kept me sane. My faith in God and great family and friendship ties kept me strong.”
Interestingly enough, Dr. Ntaka needed somewhere in the neighborhood of four years to compose her first book, having commenced that one in the form of a journal, a project she completed approximately two years after her son’s devastating demise.
Such events were “so heavy,” she said, that she had become greatly inspired to devise a three-part format, a trend that subsequently fueled her desire to spearhead a screen play in the process.
WHO IS DR. NTAKA?
Ironically, Dr. Ntaka’s Oh Happy Day: Family Unity, Restoration & Purpose was written in 2022 — in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“We were still working through the grief four years later,” Dr. Ntaka said. “People read Book 1 and began to report that our family’s transparency helped them heal when the global crisis hit.”
Additional books, Dr. Ntaka told MHN, are forthcoming, most notably:
- Letters to Momma Gladys: A Tribute To A Legendary Grandmother, Sister & Friend – 2006 (“This tribute was a way for me to process the death of my paternal grandmother who was my childhood best friend,” she said) and,
- Reinvention 101: 30 Days To A New YOU, a book originally written in 2009 but revised in 2023 as the workbook for Book 1 (“This book was written in the midst of a major business dispute as a self-help book for anyone in a battle. It made sense to pair it with the grief books looking from a landscape view,” Dr. Ntaka said”).
When asked what is the divine message she endeavors to send to her audience through her series of memoirs, Dr. Ntaka said:
“My message is one of hope, resilience, creativity, and tenacity. As a clinical researcher and public health professional, my chosen population is women and children. Scientific writing can be sterile and heavy with numbers, tables, and graphs. I chose to use transparency about my own life as a way to heal others and show my creative side.
PEACE IN THE STORM
“Many people know Dannah the scientist, but may not know Dannah the gospel and opera singer or Dannah the liturgical dancer. We can all overcome through a divine connection with our Creator and a strong earthly support system. That is the message. We can all thrive after trauma by renewing our minds.”
Especially by way of a few classic spiritual hymns, something by which she’s come to discover in recent years.
MORE ON DR. NTAKA
For more information about Texas Author, Dr. Dannah McKellar Ntaka, or to schedule her for a public appearance, book signing, or speaking engagement, call 610.818.8521 or connect with her via social media under: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dannah.mckellarntaka; Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dannahmckellar/?hl=en; Twitter: https://twitter.com/mckellarntaka; LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dannah-mc-kellar-ntaka-a03956181. Also, send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Andre Johnson is the award-winning Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter of sports for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to email@example.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist or Instagram at @makingheadlinenews.
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