Marren struggled tirelessly towards the improvement of women’s participation in politics and the reduction of women’s poverty at the household level. She advocated for inclusivity and the revival of the women’s movement in Africa.
Liberia goes to elections on 10 October. Women comprise a mere 16 per cent of all the candidates cleared for this year’s poll. The over-glorification of Sirleaf as a feminist icon is troubling since her 12-year presidency has actually served the interests of a small, elite group of women and men in politics and thus upheld long-standing patriarchal norms in Liberia.
The book is a fascinating portrait of a deeply courageous, intelligent, shrewd and determined woman possessed, at an early age, of a sense of high destiny and a deeply patriotic commitment to serving her country – even if that meant making frankly rebarbative choices. Serleaf has been consistently pragmatic, determined to undo decades of despoliation visited upon Liberia by successive regimes, in some of which she served.
If Zimbabwe’s heroines Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi were here today, what would they have done as the country is run down by erstwhile liberators gone rogue? Fold hands and watch? Make social media jokes out of their suffering and laugh at themselves? Throw stones at those who dare rise and speak out? No! Those two were allergic to indignity, exploitation, suffering without action, disenfranchisement and subjugation.
Mama Sobukwe epitomises the collective experiences of many Black women throughout the Afrikan continent and diaspora whose roles and contributions in the liberation struggle remain unacknowledged, written out of popular historical narratives, biographical memory and national consciousness.