‘’Hard work and excellence are essential for every success story, always strife for the top and you would make it, your race and your gender can only be limiting factors if you are mediocre’’,I over heard Mary Ngwena telling a group of girls as I approached her house.''Mary,full of inspiring words,always teaching '' ,I said to myself as I proceeded.With no popularity or a very significant leadership position, she is a perfect example of what I describe as a silent heroine.A woman who has affected the lives hundreds of grass root women and children in her community. An educationist and president of the Christian Womens Fellowship group of the Presbyterian Church in her locality,Mary is determined not to let any woman remain with the belief she is meant for the backyard. ''I follow up my female pupils and sometimes meet their parents right in their homes to make sure the girls get secondary education. I never had the opportunity to go to secondary school and university, but I fought my way through and got my education through correspondence while bearing my children. I made this certificate between the labor room and the examination hall’’,she explains, brandishing a London College of Preceptors certificate. ''The exams were written on the same day I had my last baby, she was born at 4am and I sat for the exams at 9am’’.Putting down the piece of paper she continues her kitchen work while answering my questions. Her leadership in the womens group has transformed the lives of many women who thought they were too old to succeed . I encourage women to be industrious and do their best in whatever they lay their hands on, be it in their farms ,at home or in the market. Heading a church group of over six hundred women from all walks of life, her goal apart from spiritual,has been to empower the jobless by encouraging them to indulge in any income generating activities of their choice and to encourage those who are intelligent and enthusiastic about studies to further their education. More than thirty of these women have been transformed from full time housewives to teachers, nurses and secretaries and journalists while a good number are running lucrative businesses. Besides her teaching job, she does sewing, knitting, hairdressing and large scale farming. ‘’An ideal Christian woman is like the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 in the bible. One who makes her husband and community proud by being industrious, if he prevents you from working out of home dig deep where you are and bring out the precious stones, he will marvel at your capabilities’’ Mary declares with a tone of certainty. In her opinion it is only when women would prove their worth to men that they shall be emancipated.Nagging, crying, and complaining without attempting solutions to challenges will instead aggravate the problem of gender inequality, but working hard to swell bank accounts and increase knowledge is an automatic solution. She is currently drafting a proposal to forward to the ministry of basic education, introducing Gender Studies at the primary school level, to propagate the idea that men and women are born equal.’’ This would help curb any form of chauvinism in children at their tender ages and enable the girls see themselves as normal human beings with the capacities of delving into any field in life’’.Mary says she is not comfortable with text books that assign particular professions to men only and others to women only. ‘’That explains why we have just one female pilot in Cameroon’’ she laments. Three of the female orphans she is sponsoring including her last daughter, are studying physics at university level. She says her dream is to see one of them get into piloting. At 55, Mary Ngwena has brought up 13 orphans under her roof alongside six biological children and three grand children. She is always ready to teach her skills to any woman or young girl who cares to learn. This Tuesday evening, I met her teaching a group of teenage girls how to bake banana cakes, at the same time giving them pieces of advice. She prefers impacting society from her home and church than creating an organization, she says she feels more motherly to orphans when they are raised under her roof than putting them in an orphanage. She prefers taking a few at a time and giving them quality home training. She expresses gratitude to her husband who has always played the role of a good father to the orphans and given her the chance to evolve from a primary school graduate to what she is today. Mary says a good and stable home is the best gift parents can offer their children, so part of her advice to the women she meets constantly is for them to do their utmost best in making their homes peaceful and stable. ‘’A woman`s first assignment is to take proper care of her husband and children, any other thing is secondary’ Mary states with her index finger raised . She calls on women to push their way through and not wait for a time when society would change, they should rather change society. Her dream is for all the women and children whose lives she has impacted , to equally change the lives of others. Despite a difficult childhood with no parental warmth and sufficient education, Mary Ngwena through determination and hard work metamophosized from a problem to a problem solver. ‘‘We were all created to be a solution to a problem, so brighten the corner where you are by solving any problem you can solve’’.With this statement she tapped my back as she concluded my ten minutes chat with her and moved towards her oven to check on the cakes she was baking for her cookery lessons.

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Dear Sisters, Sorry for being this late.I had a health challenge and also had to wait until Mary could make time for me.Please kindly let me know what to ammend. Love Leina

you are better than me leina you have posted it thank God.By the way It shows Mary has heart for women and children at large.Also your piece is tangible and traceable.i think Ms Mary could say more being an educator and church president that entails a lot dear.She is a powerful woman.Keep going love.

Anyway thanks for your piece.

Best wishes

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

Dear Warona, Thanks for your supportive vioce.I am happy you found something worth while in Mary.I pray to be able to make ammendments that will make this better.I wish you success as you complete your work too. Love Leina

You're not late, sister! Everyone's piece at this point is still a work-in-progress! I'm doing a big big overhaul with my own!

Leina, you got an excellent pick for a subject. You're right ... there are silent heroes around us, women whose actions are much louder than their words. Your Ms. Mary is undoubtedly one of them! All the best ....

Always, Emie Zozobrado

Thank you dear Emie, as always you are an encouragement.Ive been worried whether my choice of subject was ok,but Marys impact in the lives of many I know kept echoing in my mind. Best Wishes Leina

I like this piece. I love that she wants gender studies introduced into the education curriculum. Oh, and I adore your end with her going to check on her cakes - it shows how she mixes being assertive and purposeful with the gentler side of life!

Congratulations!

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

Hello Leina,

I love your woman:

  1. She is a practice christian.
  2. She is a virtuous woman.
  3. She is a woman of purpose.

She deserve your honour as your choice of woman. She is worthy of emulation.

I also like your tone of writing. You have a nice piece like so many of us that I have read.

I only observe the paragrapying which am sure will be corrected before final submission. My regard to your woman.

All the best

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Dear Vivian, I am thankful for your contribution and encouragement.I will check the paragraphing right away.There is something I see in you that I would like to emulate,you are one of those who have been very keen in going through almost all assignments and sharing constructive thoughts,thats the spirit of a leader.Id like to be like you.You inspire sister! Much Love and respect Leina

Wow, you got all the information in just ten minutes? I am so impressed! She sounds like an inspiring woman and you are doing a great job of telling her story--a good balance between her personal life experience and what she does. One thing I was slightly confused on though, is her statement "A woman`s first assignment is to take proper care of her husband and children, any other thing is secondary"--it doesn't seem to make sense with the rest of her statements, which are talking about the equality of women, and women not being stuck in the home!

Great first draft!

Rachael

"Tell me then, what will you do with your one wild, sweet, and precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Dear Racheal,Thanks for your interest in this.I had to ask straight to the point questions which could give me the answers I wanted in the shortest time possible.She was into another activity and had to squeeze me into her very busy schedule. She stands for equal opportunities.Being a perfect example herself,she thinks taking charge of the domestic sphere is no reason why they should be stuck at home.She is of the opinion that women should be able to take any kind of job without discrimination as to their sex.However the woman should be able to play her role like the mother in the home,where her leadership position is very essential for the upkeep of a stable society.Mary talks of equality in the collaborative and not in the competitive sense I think I need to be more explicit to avoid confusing the readers.I am grateful for your contribution Racheal, it would help me write more explicitly. Thoughts of Love Leina

Nice work, Leina! Your portrayal of Mary makes me want to meet her! She is the classic African woman-leader: So confident in her womanhood that she is not afraid or ashamed to reveal the gentler sides of her calling and nature; so strong that she can wear many hats and give tirelessly of herself to many; so passionate that she can lead her cause with unwavering conviction. May her tribe increase!

I agree with Rachael that you could provide clarity by reconciling the statement about "A woman's first assignment . . ." with the rest of Mary's statements. I think you've already done this partly by providing a context in the sentences preceding that specific statement. Here is what I can surmise from your statements--Mary believes a stable home is key to raising stable children, so it is important for a woman to ensure that she takes care of her home (her immediate world for which she has a special responsibility) before she worries about taking care of the world out there. Am I interpreting your words correctly?

Maybe you could help limit confusion for the leader by introducing this seemingly contradictory statement with something like, "Incongruous as it may sound, Mary believes a woman's first assignment . . .." Then follow that with Mary's thoughts on the necessity of a stable home to help explain the statement.

Just my thoughts . . . Sorry if my suggestions are even more confusing!

Good luck putting in all the finishing touches!

Sending love your way!

SLaw

Slaw!,your contribution has sparked in me the quest to portray the strengths of the African woman in Mary.A value I admire so much and think we should work to preserve,even as we seek to make our voices heard and stamp out the vices of our culture.Charity they say begins at home,making a good and stable home is an indicator of good leadership in ones commnuity.I am thankful to you and Racheal for helping me tell Marys story better. Love to you Leina