Hello world, happy midweek. Here I come again with another thrilling post of a heroine I met all the way in Wum – North West Region of Cameroon – Yes the same place I met my hero and teacher Erico. Meeting all my heros and heroines are definitely part of my journey here below, experiences I so appreciate and am grateful for, and the lessons learnt cum memories will definitely help me tremendously in my coaching and motivational speaker career. When does that officially kick off only the Master Lord knows… In the meantime, follow me and my heroine Benedicta as we go around the village.
How it all started
Aunty let me go and carry it for you her tiny self said! You still look so tired and there are many children there!
Hmm, I wanted some water for my evening bath but I sure didn’t want small Benedicta to go carry it for me. You see, when I got to the village by noon that day, I was in dire need of a bath, having travelled from Douala my city all night to Bamenda, and then all morning in another small and jam packed car from Bamenda to Wum. The second distance of 50 kms lasted three hours (hope you understand the state of such a road). I was brought water by an adult in law of mine but when I realized there was no running water in the compound, I decided after a while to go fetch that I’ll use at night. The water in that village is cold to the extend that when you bathe with it, you either catch a fever or are healed of one period.
But Benedicta I asked, why can’t I go with you and carry my own myself? If you can go so too can I right?
At last, we seemed to have arrived because I spotted this:
I realized the beautiful water tank or whatever it looked like, was built by their Member of Parliament. Our government had better priorities than providing such basic amemnities to the whole country. And yet, the taps on that thing weren’t even running – HA!
I didn’t have to ask any questions, I just followed Benedicta to a nearby spot
See how the water flows, talk of patience being a virtue! And I couldn’t bully all those children right? So I waited. And then I started to think of the way back, but when I saw Benedicta smiling and chating with all those other kids, I relaxed. Wwe finally fetched our water and we headed back home as you can see below
The red bucket is mine of course
There goes Benedicta joyfully, I dared to remove my camera with my bucket on my head but couldn’t take a selfie o
Once home, my heroine quickly offered that we go again – Euh – emm I give Benedicta some money to buy herself a lolipop on the way and quickly dash off to join the other women prepare food to cook in one of our warm village kitchens
Our warm Kitchens
Corn flour cakes, typically eaten with vegetables yummy
A Healthy portion for Me yeah
If you were in my place and given my age, will you go for a second round? Isn’t Benedicta so sweet?
That was our first time meeting together, barely 3 days after I braved it to obtain her number and call her…
I have a picture where I was captured laughing out my soul like that… It’s in my living room…
I had been thinking of reaching out to Donna over a month ago… I hadn’t read anything about her, nor even heard much about her… I had once been told we were going to be invited on a panel to discuss our books and co, but that never happened… That was last year…
Last month, I started thinking a lot about this Donna … I hadn’t even googled her up… Indeed, it only dawned on me to at least google her and see her face once she agreed we could meet yesterday … The network didn’t help and so we ended up just describing each other… Needless though because we just knew each other on sight…
Donna lives right there in Limbe… that magnetic sea side city where I finished my last memoir… Gosh Donna just told I was invited any time to occupy her second room… I brought her a copy of one my book ( the one I actually have a printed copy of), and she gave me so much more
I am in a reading frenzy currently, Cortland Pfeiffer’s Taking The Mask off, Chimamanda’s half of a yellow sun and Americana, and now Donna gave me gifts of all 4 of her books… Ok you tell me how do I sleep?
When I called Donna on Monday afternoon, her voice was just what I had been dreaming of… Indeed, when I got her number in the morning, I first prayed before deciding to call in the afternoon hoping her morning hype would have calmed down ( just pure guess work and I was once again right)… Another sign I had told myself, was going to be in her tone the way she said hello… I actually prefered she say hello and not hi… And that’s exactly what she said… And in that way which just hugs your soul…
Could it be an ‘unknown Angel’ involved here all along captain?
In Cortland’s book, he talks of synchronicity and soul contracts…
Donna and I talked that Monday afternoon for 24 good minutes… I timed that, and yesterday we just had to part due to other commitments… This morning we spoke for 12 minutes cause she is on the go, ok WhatsApp chats is not factored…
Oh my, you will definitely read more about Donna on this blog… I never felt this before or met someone like this here or anywhere else for that matter… Donna herself is amazed and so grateful I called her? Ha
Her books … (I gave up sleep and I have already read 2 of them) are so … To my spirit…
Must a soul mate be of the opposite sex and someone with whom you share much more than your soul?
Wishing us all a nice weekend… And a ‘Donna in our lives… 🙂
Dear Dyane Leshin-Harwood, sadly I don’t know how to properly link from a phone, but I tried my best…
It all started 9 years ago with your courageous decision to not bottle it up and pretend it never happened, your painful and challenging crawls and strides to get a book deal and submit a draft…
Today, as you finally get to submit that draft, which is a big big step to the fulfilment of your dream and desire to see your exceptional story and advocacy message out there in the literary and psycho-scientic world, know that am rooting for you. I am so proud of you because as an author I know some of the frustrating and yet rewarding pumps of it all…
I am sure dearest, that several members of our e-family as well as your actual family, are equally so supportive and super proud of you…
As I board my plane later today, I want you to know that am so happy to have met you on the blogosphere, and to have spoken with you for real when I visited the US…
I wish I could light a real candle for you today…but I managed to find something close online…
Whoop whoop whoop my heroine: whoop whoop whoop all the way:
with love always, your dear Marie
This is the doormat to the elevator at the hotel which I seriously noted only yesterday… Wow right?
I hope you smile at this candle I picked for you on my way home.
You see, I went to help a friend with some decoration project for a wedding she had lined up today, and while there I kept keeping in touch with what was up on your special day over on your street. I also reblogged a few post from other tribes’ buddies which celebrated you and what you taught, thought and shared… She freaked me out at one point by saying I was ever on my phone… I sighed saying if only she knew I was there just to escape from melancholy at home where I would otherwise have been glued to my laptop reading and writing away with tear filled eyes. She overstepped her boundaries when she sent someone into my handbag without my permission. I just screamed in me f… it and left.
I stopped by the supermarket and got a vanilla scented candle for you. Hope you don’t mind the scent. I think you’ll find that butterfly inside sarcastic or what…
You said I was a good writer and could do excellent if I kept at it? Ok now, I will need to find another proof reader and ‘candid sounding board’.
Ulla, today, I can’t and wouldn’t write much. I am reading all I come across on and for you, and keeping the vigil with the tribe. I know one day it shall be over for each and everyone of us too, but for now, we are here trying to strong for each other, trying to come to terms with life and its own ‘mental illness’, trying to survive this one more other day of grieving a dear one’s passing on…
I wish you well Ulla, sincerely and candidly I do… it just hurts to think it got so bad and there was nothing I or any of us could do… I thought I had learnt so much about the ‘illness’ to help someone since I failed so woefully to help my own brother (yes I know what you kept telling me about this), but hmm … I still have so much to learn even about my own self…
I grieve out you passing on, but I retain every memory of your gentle and kind soul. I’ll treasure the few emails and chats and I’ll always wish you well…
I called her john, I now know her name was Ulla. This makes no difference to me, my grief is once more unbearable. I could hardly sleep last night.
I had thought I was done with blogging, hung up my blogging boots: But how do I not revert to where I found so much solace two years ago when I lost my one and only brother to this same Bipolar Monster?
And guess who was there to help me so very much on with my grief and healing process? Guess who selflessly offered to review My brother’s journey which I maniacally wrote in 30 days? Oh Ulla where do I begin?
Oh no, what a sad coincidence, that a vigil is planned for you on September 10th 2016, exactly 2 years when I published that post?
Ah our poor, battered, tattered and shattered mental health community… who will research and share all the information with us again? Oh dear, you cheered us up and fought so hard… even letting us know when things were seemingly so tough your way, that you were still alive.
The grief is still so hard, kindly join us on BLAHPOLAR’S blog come September 10th, to pay her a deserving tribute:
Here are some other blog posts from her other kindred spirits, I know many more others don’t even have it in them to write …
Although I humbly think this beautiful and profound memoir by Riva is slightly overdue, I commend her dedication, despite her hectic schedule, to finish it and share it with the world.
Indeed, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the other main protagonist in this memoir, in her soulful Foreword, encourages us all to read Choosing the Hero: “It tells my story from the special perspective of a woman who knows me well and was with me at every stage of the journey – a woman to whom I will always be grateful.” I know of no other more befitting endorsement of such a work. The President actually mentioned in that same foreword that Riva even believed in her much more than some of her closer entourage at one point – in short, Riva never gave up on her although she tried and failed twice before making it to the Liberian Presidency in 2005, amidst all odds and breaking the ‘tremendous taboo’ that no woman could be President in Africa.
So how did these two brilliant, brave, strong headed, strong willed, dynamic, dedicated, determined, and above all, disciplined women from worlds apart, cross paths? Riva was from the US, with her multidimensional background, upbringing, and career, while Ellen was from far off poor, shady, gloomy and poverty cum conflict stricken tiny Liberia in Africa. I have come to conclude that their personalities had a ‘spiritual magnetism’ and caused them to chose each other.
Riva is largely convinced she chooses Ellen Johnson Sirleaf because she saw in her a Hero. In her own words, thought out way back in 1996 when she first met Ellen Johnson in her office at the UN: “… a new thought that is just beginning to take root and grow: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will make history. She will change the world. I don’t know how she will do it, or what it will entail. But I know that I want to help her. I want to come along on that journey. I want to work for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.” I think that is where the choosing started. Eventually when she had the opportunity to be interviewed by Ellen Johnson, she was determined that that not even her five months old pregnancy was going to stand in her way. Riva reflects rightly at that point that she’s facing yet again the primary tension to her job: “needing to work for the clients who pay, while being drawn to the clients who inspire.” She knew Mrs Sirleaf had limited resources and relied on her personal savings with dignity and integrity, but that was what made her Hero more appealing.
And so it came to be that Riva didn’t only help her Hero, by working and supporting Ellen Johnson Sirleaf all the way through defeats, exiles, and eventual victory ten years later, but she actually got into some serious politicking and lobbying on Capitol Hill, most of it pro bono. Riva narrates this challenging but soulful journey, the different rejections and humiliations she faced in working with and for her Hero, recalling a time when she was told outright: “it’s a traditional society, a woman can never be president.”
One will read with hints of irony how the warlord Taylor, who had several times threatened grandmother Ellen’s life, ended up himself depending on her executive decision as president if he should be tried by the Special Court for the Sierra Leone. Another amusing fact in her memoir is the ‘play press’; both regional and international, who in the beginning were definitely not having anything to do with covering Ellen and her campaign. Once she was declared the victor over “King Leah” their proclaimed ‘winner’, they were in Monrovia overnight pleading for a spot with Madam President.
Riva’s memoir is captivating and hard to put down. Brilliantly narrated with some hints of her soulful family dynamics, her impressive and resourceful Oma, all the way through to Bagdad, Libya, and Somalia, where some of her most dangerous assignments were undertaken.
I commend Riva above all for making her memoir a fluent, easy, and interesting read. I equally appreciate that her opening scene is in Norway, where her Hero and two other dynamic and exemplary women laureates of that year’s Nobel Peace Price are honoured with their awards.
Indeed, Riva made the right choice in choosing her Hero. She is now a part and parcel of one of those ‘traditional African families’, and so gets her VIP pass to the ground breaking inauguration of President Sirleaf in 2006 and much more. Riva has also witnessed tremendous personal and professional developments and she now thinks her Hero is also her new Oma.
In light of all the above, I can only honestly and modestly conclude my review by adding my own tiny call to that of our very first African Female President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, that this book should be read by all and sundry – you will not regret it.
About the Author:
K. Riva Levinson is the founder, President and CEO of KRL International LLC. Over the past 25 years, Ms. Levinson has earned a reputation as sought-after strategist managing international policy issues.
A front-page profile in The Hill, a prominent Washington newspaper, said Riva Levinson “…has been in trickier spots and taken up more daunting causes than all but a few other lobbyists in town.” A recent Financial Times article described Ms. Levinson’s reputation in advocacy as “formidable.”
There is DDD with whom I just spent the night, changing her Son’s diapy. I missed being by her side last year while she laboured for four good days before finally giving birth via a Csection. Oh my DDD who was ever so present before, during and after my 1st son Alain was born.
Precisely, we met 13 years ago when a pregnant me dragged her mass around looking for, yes a hairdresser again. I am picky with that you know and just like in Bamenda with Vera’s mum, I wanted to find someone my spirit could spot, if you get the point. I was all by myself in Yaounde back then, where I currently am once more for work, and this too is a pleasant surprise. And so, going back to then, I toured the neighbourhood and finally settled on the salon where DDD worked.
Since that day, she did my hair as often as I could spot her. And we relocated to Douala almost around the same time and so she kept doing the hair. In short, I didn’t go to the salon anymore, she came to my house or I went to hers which ever. Reminds me of Fati in Brussels.
When I returned to Cameroon in August, I prayed my Lord and Luck to reunite with my 3 special sisters who are Beautiful Bea, Virtuous Vera and of course DDD. I was moaning to the heavens on the 30th of November how I didn’t want to enter December without meeting DDD to round up my lucky reunions.
I mean all the reunions happened like in the movies. BB I met on my way back from church, on a day I had almost not gone, and to a church so far away; VV I got her number after tracing her mum’s salon, after all this years, and after convincing the lady I met there to give me her number; and DDD I met on the 30th of November at 6 pm on my way back from work as I looked out of the cab. She was in the market not so far from the salon we’d first met, all of this just pure coincidence because she no longer works nor lives in Yaounde, and can’t tell why she came to the market that late and etc. Neither can I explain why I was in the cab, looking out at that time etc
Oh at last my DDD has a son, she who had been pronounced sterile!!! He is such a buoyant boy and already learning to play the xylophone or whatever that instrument is. I went to where she was visiting last evening, and invited them over for the night. In short, she had planned to return to Douala today, but will wait for me so we all return tomorrow.
For all she’s been through, all the dreadful stories she told me last night, all the times she almost made it, lost it all and started again, she is really my DDD and Heroine.
Dear all, what a way to end the year? What glad tidings especially since my relocation home? I’ll be picking up Alain from Boarding House this Sunday precisely 3 months after he left. Am sure he’ll be equally thrilled to visit DDD and her son.
To celebrate it all, I am letting my hair grow again – because I have my ultimate hairdresser back 🙂
To God be the Glory Great Things He Hath Done…
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