Saving Safa – Book review
07/03/2017
Veronica Netondo pledges to address financial issues of Busitema University
08/03/2017

Women’s Day again

Hurray! Hurray! Its women’s day again, time to take off a break from the daily routines both at work and home.  Got to see hubby stress with the house chores chasing after the kids running here, there, down, up, outside and trying to put everything in place the way I always do.

I know lunch will be late, that am so sure… and the house won’t be neat has it has been under my custody but no worries I will keep in bed; see him treat me like a princess. Anyway it’s just this one day am exempted from these duties and he is a good cook all the same.

Right now the best I can do is to is burry myself in this novel right before me on the shelf. Though I had promised myself not to touch anything, I cannot resist these innocent, tender eyes of the little girl on the cover page. They seem to pierce into mine like sunrays straight to my heart. I know my body does not wish this but the heart wants what it wants so I start flipping through the pages.

Just to sustain my reading I will start with the back cover to get a glimpse of the story. “Saving Safa” is a true life story of a little girl whose participation in the movie Desert Flower rescues her from the cruelty of Female genital mutilation.

It was written in 2013 by Waris Dirie an international model, a victim and an anti-FGM activist.

This fascinating novel starts with a prologue of a letter written by Safa the protagonist, to the author (Waris).The bloodcurdling words of poor Safa; whose life is under the threat of mutilation startle Waris leaving her restless “ …They say I stink, but that’s not true at all. Mama and Papa also argue because of me…” She is cursed, insulted and regarded a disgrace to society.

It’s here that the story unfolds; Warris thinks traveling to Djibouti would be the master key to saving the Little Desert Flower.

Warris’ arrival in Djibouti is welcomed by multitudes of women carrying their babies on the streets desperately begging for money and “wailing for help”. This makes me hold my breath for second, images of the Karamanjong women race through my mind. I image how the elderly women, the youthful girls who ought to be in school sit in the blazing sun to ask for a coin from the passersby.

“Saving Safa” explores the rigidity of religion “… ‘She is a Muslim girl, and you know she’s not allowed to show her body in public.’”  The barbaric cultural practices which are deeply immersed in the horrific scenes of circumcision.

Warris’ heart only comes to peace after the visit to Dr. Acina who announces that Safa is still intact. What really breaks the soul, Safa could be saved but many girls still suffer this evil dreadful feat. Children are mutilated at the age of five or earlier than that.

The pain and scars from mutilation are just drizzles for the heavy rains yet to come. Mutilated women nurse physical and physiological scars that they carry on for the rest of their lives. Inab, the eighteen year old who aspires to fight FGM reminiscences her first attempts to be circumcised as a little girl of six “ … I still have a vivid memory of the terrible screams coming from the dark room where the old cutter where old cutter woman was torturing one little girl after another.”

FGM may be a curtain raiser for the uncountable tribulations that women face in Africa or even here at home. Thousands may be dying of the knife but millions die of unknown tides that every one of us takes for granted.

Ok! We all agree that women rights are a no go zone in this present day and era thumbs up to that , girls go to school, they are assured of clean sanitary towels. Hurry! Hurry! But let me ask; who is fighting for those karamonjong women and children on the streets? Aren’t they women like any other or school is an abomination to them.

How about our girls who run at Hussein Bolt’s speed after watching an advert of jobs on Bukkedde TV in Dubai ,Saudi Arabia, Duban and all those twisted names that my tongue cannot bend to say. Which minister checks the injustices, atrocities committed against these non-human beings if I may say?

And this tea girl at office who was abandoned by the spouse with five toddlers to feed. To her it is better that way at least she is no longer battled by the drunkard husband but what can the peanuts do really. She too deserves the golden hand shake like those government officials.

Just yesterday the health officer from Mulago was reading a report of mothers who lose their lives during child birth. Even with all this technology the maternal mortality rate seems like a drought that is here to stay.

Who bow the women; cervical cancer is some theoretical concept of their misery that my mind cannot comprehend after breaking down several scientific medical sterms.

On that note my heart screams of sorrow. I do not count it joy to celebrate women’s day any other hour of this day and I end my novel right there on page two hundred , I fold it for 8th March 2018 hoping everything will have changed ; more employment opportunities, no more women on the streets and domestic violence as a tale of the stone age.

By KAFUKO SHAMIM

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