“The double jeopardy of being black and female in a racist and sexist society may well make one less afraid of the sanctions against success. A non-subservient black woman is by definition a transgressive-she is the ultimate outsider. But political activism, with its infusion of a purpose higher than oneself, and the steeling effect of having had to break most of the rules in a society desperately in need of transformation, have added an important depth to my adult life.”ーMamphela Ramphele, A Life
Dr. Mamphele Ramphele is a #womenpioneers, one of the first few females and black medical doctors in South Africa, an anthropologist, an author and lifelong community activist, as a student, anti-apartheid leader, community health practitioner, and a reformist political leader. In the first chapter of the book, she started by telling about her roots, where she came from, grew up in rural SA and her parents as both teachers. I began to engage with the book when she started to tell her struggling to pursue medical school, giving the circumstances that being in a middle class family, being a woman, and black. But grit and perseverance brought her all the way up. And right then around the late 1960s, with Stephen Biko and several other, Dr.Ramphele were the founding members of the Black Consciousness Movement, the powerful SA strand of the struggle for freedom of oppressed peoples of color. This book is well documented of a history of SA Apartheid, pre, during and post events. From the 1970s, the development phase under the Black Consciousness Movement. The 1980s brought in the season of development. And the 1990s, the era of transformation and nation building. All crystal clear outlined by the iron woman who fought in the front line. I had learn so many historic moments and so many important names of the SA Apartheid history.
One of the important element of this book was also the portrayal of a rough life of a career woman. I really appreciate that Dr.Ramphele shared such an intimate details about her love triangle affair with Steve Biko, difficult relationship and two bitter divorces. She’s utterly vulnerable and honest.Also the details of the apartheid driven government, the banning of her, Biko and many other members that caused lives. While trying to attempt her medical practice, created community clinic to support the poors, being a crucial role in anti-aparthied, she also begin her life as a wife and a mother. This is probably my most favorite part of this book. I truly love her audacity to have challenged a patriarchal society which has no regard for people of color and women.
That said, I am not necessary agree with everything she writes but I do have much respect for her ambition, her contribution to the society and as a woman role model.