Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: This Child Will be Great by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf


Picture below is on one of her release from prison in her struggle era
Picture below is on one of her release from prison in her struggle era

My second book review on this blog, is as powerful as it captivating. When I wrote a post about Mama Ellen (as she is fondly called), that she was my heroine and idol, I had not even read this book. That title is a ‘prophecy’ made by an old man who visited the baby Ellen at birth. Great indeed she today is right? She will forever be remembered not only for her record breaking and holding especially in Africa, but also for her famous statement. She said:

“All girls know that they can be anything now. That transformation is to me one of the most satisfying things.” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

I had the privilege to meet, talk to briefly and take a snap shot of Mama Ellen in November 2013 when I was sent on a near ‘mission impossible’ to get Mama to come and deliver the keynote address

Delivering her Keynote address at the WIP inaugural summit in 2013
Delivering her Keynote address at the WIP inaugural summit in 2013

at our inaugural summit. I succeeded, she came, delivered the keynote and told me she encouraged young dynamic women like me.

I took this shot because none of her guards would take a photo of us
I took this shot because none of her guards would take a photo of us

Synopsis of the Book

When I started reading that book, the very first page made me conclude, and rightly so as I eventually read, that most of it was written by Mama Ellen herself. I also noticed that it was published in 2009, that is three years into her first term as president and it meant that she was putting herself out there knowing fully well the ‘damage’ the book could cost her plans for a second term.

I say she took chances because she is as personal in several instances as she is candid. Who talks about her marriage to an abusive man when she was only 17 years old? Mama does. Who talks about her having four boys by 23 years old? Mama again. Who talks about knowing the pain of leaving your children behind at such tender ages (the last barely 1 year old) to go further your life? Of course only mama can do that. And of being unfaithful in marriage? Read that book for yourselves!

Yes, even on the political narration of her struggle, she is as candid. She tells how referring to the Doe regime in a speech as a bunch of ‘idiots’, landed her into serious trouble, earned her some jail time in one of those nocturnal confines (She actually says it did her some good, she rested and got to live first hand the life of an inmate), and above all, almost led to her being raped or killed. In each of those several narratives, she was saved she believes, by her mother’s fervent prayers and some ‘angel’ in the body of one of the guards.

Mama Ellen also tells of her campaigns to the Executive Mansion. The first time in 1997 was against the then all powerful Charles Taylor, and she says barely anybody supported her ‘folly’. Of course, she lost ‘woefully’ as she puts it, but she knows Taylor won by all ‘scrupulous’ means possible.  Her inauguration day on that famous January 2006 is the best day of her life and the speech she made on that day, is fortunately annexed to that book.

My Rating

I normally as in a previous book review, write about the author. But what can I write about Mama Ellen? Who doesn’t know her? I mean, for fear of not missing one of her stars, I will urge you to Google her and her book. Frankly, anything less than a five star will be lying to my own self.

I salute her, she is my icon, idol, heroine and you name it. I mean I was once asked who is the one person I will give my all to have dinner with, of course Mama I said.  She even works in her cabinet with some former warlords and fighting factions and guess, Mr Taylor’s ex wife is a Senator in their Parliament. I have also met her and heard her talk well of Mama.

Dear gentle readers and followers, this is my modest tribute to this great woman and writer and I look forward to others too. And you, what’s your take on this? As for me, I’ve got to ask my mama if some one said anything when I was born 🙂

Posted in My Heroines

Soila…


SOILA

Love and appreciation is in the air right?

So today I will write about a heroine of mine I met last week (em yes I sometimes fall too quickly for people especially when my nerves chick me to). Well, tomorrow, I will post about my Hero so just be patient.

Now, why Soila and what has she done to make me do a post on her so soon after we e-met. Hm, cozy down and read on.

Last year, when I came to Belgium and the weather was just making me more weary, I started to roam the internet more. Ah, ye I was looking for Divorce sites where I could read others’ stories and maybe one day be ready to share mine too.

“I registered with a few of them like the Huffington Divorce, Moms Divorce, Dads Divorce (yes even from that angle I had a thrice divorced dad, a divorce husband, and now a boyfriend who recently got divorced) and oh not forgetting Kids Divorce ( and here, I was a kid from such a home and now I have kids from such a home oh life).”

Yet, I just read on every now and then but didn’t feel ready to start sharing. I think I needed to find love first. I need to love myself hard and to find a gentleman.

The next apprehension was, with the huge crow in those websites, would I not even get drowned and trampled upon before I even learn the basics of contributing articles? Who would have time for an MJC (Mary Just Come) like me?

One thing led to another and I became very social network active along the line. People even started following me on twitter before I could understand the ‘twittatics’.

Soila and her Divorce Magazine were one of such people. Hm, I looked them up and felt a thrill. It popped out at once – that’s what you  have been waiting for so go for it.

You see, I had been following those other sites since July 13th and yet I didn’t even know who ran them of if they even smiled just like Soila does.

I thus quickly contacted her and this is a brief of the response I got and less than 48 hours later:

” Hi Marie,

Thank you for getting in touch.

Your story does indeed sound not only interesting but also one that may inspire others and ease the pains that others might be experiencing which is really the aim of The Divorce Magazine.
 
I have read your story on your blog and there is so much there, I’m not sure what to say.  ” Feb 9 (4 days ago)
You can imagine the rest right. Well, my first article was published on the magazine yesterday so you can refresh right here and I have a page on the DM too,  full of kind words.
Soila is a strong and powerful woman just like my friend June.
Yes, Soila recently shared with us how she survived her divorce(s) or rather how she is dealing with pain.
If she hadn’t I wouldn’t have guessed.
I was ready to share my story, actually, my book is to be released in barely 15 days from now.
Because Soila has giving me this other opportunity to heal and help more than I hurt, I consider her one of my heroines.
Dear Gentle followers, share one of your heros or heroines with us or maybe just leave a comment and spread the work?
Posted in Marie's Garden

Marriage My Refuge


AMAI Know many would wonder at the awkwardness of such a title! Should Marriage be considered as a Refuge in any right thinking mind? Surely, I was out of my mind right?

Well, I think I am not the only one who at some point in her life preferred to be married at all cost than to stay single, and maybe with a child, and maybe still living at her mother’s, and maybe with no source of income, and maybe with her mind drifting towards hyper restlessness.

I was one of those someones and I share my story with you.

I had had a son in 2003 and that one is another story. Now, in Africa and Cameroon in particular, having a child out of wedlock is simply put, an abomination.

Next, I still lived at my mum’s, had no source of income although I had had a law degree and even a post graduate diploma. For a woman and probably for a man of my generation, still living at home when you are 25 and not having any source of income is frustrating.

To crown it all, I didn’t get along with my mother of course among st other reasons because of that b…… I had given birth to and now burdened her with.

So, how else was I to live without any income unless I asked someone to marry me or cornered someone to propose to me sooner than later?

As it happened, while travelling to another city for some petty business I was doing,  a guy who was to become my X, feigned interest in the products and took down my mobile number.

He told me like many had done before him that he admired my courage and figure and whatever. I told him I wasn’t interested in playing around anymore, that I had a son and that I thought I should be settling down at my age.

My X told me he was also not looking to play around, he had a 3 months old son and had intended to marry his girlfriend, but his mother (his father towed along) wouldn’t hear about it, and the girl and her mum were alleged to be witches and he was sick of it all.

I was like okay, we both need to settle down, we each come from far, so why don’t we get married?

Terrible reasons to get married I now admit. But that was how it happened that I got Married because I was looking for a Refuge from ‘home’ and my broke state.

We got to start trying to know each other well after our marriage, which took place on the 18th of March 2005 in my village, and my father who was the Lord Mayor by then, celebrated it. Lord, what honour with dishonour I was bringing to my dad – you alone could give him the grace thereafter and now.

I just wanted the whole marriage to take place so badly that I rejected all signals of incompatibility of personality and otherwise. Mr. X loved keeping late hours, he was disorganized, kept a lot of things to himself, could very well have been groomed at some point by my own father.

my marriageMy parents’ reservation revolved about his level of education, his apparent instability and my still dependent status; my mother remarked that I went to his mother’s too often before we got married, making it look like I was urging things, which in all honesty I was.

Nobody ever inquired about the ‘love’ factor.

By my 26th birthday, I was pregnant and so by the time we got married I was 2.5 months pregnant. Hmm, even if I wanted to back out, what option did I really have?

His mother also didn’t really like me after all. I didn’t want to go to the farm, I didn’t want to stay with her until her sisters and she officially accompany me to my husband’s, and I didn’t want to learn from her how to cook what she knew her son loved most.

Worst of all I was pressing for a small wedding after my family had ‘hijacked’ the administrative ceremony to our village where her all family couldn’t come.

We survived for six years, and by the time I was leaving, I had lost 2 children, had 2 others, had been physically, mentally and emotionally abused, had dirtied, hurt, almost killed myself, and at some point weighed 115 kgs.

I had done it all, and I always remembered how, when I wept bitterly at the loss of my daughter ‘Ange-Claire’ and asked my mother what I had not yet seen at my 30 years of existence, she said I had not yet seen anything. There was still much more I was going to see and go through, she said.

I could not blame any other person but myself and I was from the second year of that marriage, looking for yet some other refuge; this time around, a way out of there.

A gentle aunt of mine affirmed that marriage was supposed to be a 50-50% investment by both parties, but I dread calculating how much each of us actually put into the marriage. I can only speak on my behalf, and I think I put in something revolving around 30%.

It was crazy I never thought of the cute, loving, sincere friend stuff when marriage ‘hovered’; but even if I had, to what good would it have been, as if I were also still that cute and worthy and all.

All this said, you can easily imagine the woman I was when I got married and how further despicable of myself I felt when I left. To make matters worst, I left my sons behind (3) in total. It was and still is hard. I will be writing on this in subsequent posts.

I know marriage is supposed to be out of love, but I hoped the love was going to grow as we did.

Yes, love is and should always be the foundation of any relationship.

Yet, if that love should fade out because it is not nurtured or diverted to other avenues or partners, then even the ‘refuge’ we think we can make out of marriages, become emotional jungles and jails.

Well, I am much better today than I was when I left in 2011, and I able to share my hurtful past and learn from others too. I have discovered several networks and bloggers since coming to Belgium and I know, that the current relationship I am trying to build, is not considered a Refuge!

A poem I read on my friend Dennis blog, also hastened my publications because it was about a refuge too.

“As featured on the Divorce Magazine“.

And you my gentle followers, what say ye about such a saga?