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Unbowed: Wangari Maathai


From the moment I received this book as a gift from a special person in my life, I couldn't put it down for it was simply captivating. It is a marvelous book that talks about the struggles of the Nobel price winner Wangari Muta Maathai. The book vividly describes the challenges she had to face to get to where she is now. The language used is very simple, but with a few words that one can add to their vocabulary. She is among the few Kenyan women to have an autobiography, but this is not to say that she is the only story worth writing. Another autobiography of a Kenyan woman is that of Muthoni Likimani, "Fighting without ceasing".

As one turns to the last page of the book Unbowed, one feels rejuvenated and motivated to face life despite the problems that may present themselves. It is among my favorite books, depicting how a simple young girl from the rural areas came to be a powerful woman. It tells of the intimidation she had to face especially in a society whose structures were patriarchal. She challenged politically and economically powerful men in the country, and literary fought for what she believed was right and just. She organized campaigns and persevered physical and verbal abuse. She has created a new path for women today, not to be intimidated by the already powerful, especially if one believes in what one is fighting for.

I can’t help but put it in the same category as Buchi Emecheta’s book, Joys of Motherhood. Emecheta a Nigerian writes about the irony of the joys of motherhood, a sad irony. This also is among my favorite books. Both books talk about the problems that women face and also what mothers have to go through to achieve their dreams or just to survive in a patriachal society, especially when they do not have husbands who can support them. The difference is that while Unbowed has a happy ending, joys of motherhood has a somewhat sad ending. Nevertheless it is a remarkable book. Both books create awareness among women and also seek to empower them.

I think Unbowed is a book every female activist should read.


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