Be Inspired: Kechi Okwuchi
I remember the Sosoliso plane crash. I had only been in the United States for a few months and I remember my extreme devastation on receiving news of the plane crash that took 109 lives from us. 60 of them had been students from Loyola Jesuit College in Abuja and out of the 60, Kechi Okwuchi was the only survivor. With burns covering 60% of her body and over 75 surgeries later, Kechi’s story is one of perseverance and determination. I was lucky enough to carry out a phone interview with her. I remember Kechi’s voice for the first time. It was strong, deep and with a certain sweetness to it. I interviewed Kechi in 2011 on my first blog, but her story is worth telling again.
Y: Tell me about the actual crash, if you may.
Kechi: The pilot announced that we were going to land in the airport in about 20 minutes and the plane started descending. I was in an aisle seat which is really unusual for me because I like the window so I couldn’t really see what was going on outside. Suddenly everything seemed different. We were going down way too fast. Someone in the back was shouting. It was a woman’s voice, “Is this plane trying to land?” When she said that, everyone started panicking. I looked to the side to my friend and she was looking really scared and I was probably looking just as scared. So we held hands and tried to pray, but before we could even start to say, “In Jesus’ name”, there was this really loud, searing sound right in my ear and the next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital.
Y: Understand that you don’t have to answer any of my questions, but how did you deal with the loss of your friends and the other people you knew on the plane?
Kechi: Well at that point when I woke up in the hospital, I automatically assumed that since I was alive, everyone else was alive too. I was told by the psychiatrist in the hospital 4 months later that I was the only survivor of all the students and only one of two survivors of the entire flight. I cried a whole lot. I was devastated. The first person I could think of was my friend Toke Bagru, the girl that was sitting beside me because she was my closest friend. She was the first person I thought of because she had been the last face I had seen before the crash. My mother was there with me the whole time, she’s my rock. She let me cry everything out. I still cry, but I don’t like the idea of being constantly sad about it. If I stay sad and constantly depressed, it’s an insult to their memory. I want to live my life to the fullest, not just for myself, but for them too.
"White America was shocked by what they saw police do to Rodney King. Black America would have loved to be shocked by what they saw the police do to Rodney King, but Black America only could have been shocked if what the police did to Rodney King was something completely alien to their community experience, was something they couldn’t imagine the police doing in their community. There’s a Rodney King every day in this country, and Black America has always known that."
freshman year of hs walks home…
'Devil want these n*ggas hate they own kind / Gotta be illuminati if a n*gga shine…’
"musicians don’t feel anymore."