30 November 2017

Liberia: 'Voice of the Trumpetess' an Epic of Struggles, Hope, Triumph

Voice of the Trumpetess, an autobiography of celebrated Liberian female journalist Mae Azango brings to life the many untold struggles and abuses that hide behind the face of this lively lady.

In the book, Mae Azango opens with the dangerous circumstance surrounding the birth of her first child and back to her childhood, where her adopted father mistreated her and never liked the notion of her carrying his last name.

In the next two sections of the book, she talked about the unconditional love she received from her adopted mother, who happened to be her aunt, the night she was molested by her uncle, and how it was handled in a family manner without him facing justice.

From there she went on to discuss her bad habits as a child, most especially being a fast-talker which landed her in a lot of trouble, their fall 'from grass to grace' during Liberia's 14-year civil war and the struggles they went through being children of a government official at the hands of freedom fighters.

She also talked about the abuses she went through with her first love, who didn't hesitate to beat her up on many occasions. Throughout the book, Mae Azango was unfortunate in relationships, from one abusive man to another. But the worst one was when she had to cancel her wedding on the day itself after she discovered her fiance had another wife.

These frustrations, which she experienced from her early adolescent years upward, led her to pursue journalism as a career, although it wasn't her dream career.

As a journalist she was sexually harassed by a newsmaker, and during one panelist discussion in the US, when she brought up the topic, her story was taken for granted and was accused by her peers for faking the story to seek asylum. But deep down in her heart she knew her story was true and she stood by it. The statement irritated the government and her boss in Liberia, leading her to quit the media house.

Fortunately, she was employed by another paper for her bold and courageous steps when it comes to reporting on issues. And in subsequent periods, she went into hiding after her life and that of her daughter's were in danger for her reports on female genital mutilation (FGM), which forced the government to suspend the practice. Her fearlessness and courage to report such stories led to her winning the CPJ International Press Freedom Award.

Her quest to report on such taboo topics and other stories comes from her conviction to give a voice to the voiceless, since she herself had experienced most of the abuses women go through.

Voice of the Trumpetess is a book that motivates us to see our past as a means to come out of the struggle by taking bold steps. The book is a further remainder that parents should not hide family members or friends that abuse children just because of family or friendship ties.

The book provides valuable details about the life of this renowned female journalist whose life story is full of too many sad tales, some stemming from decisions she made. These decisions, which at some point messed up her life, are lessons for us all, most especially for girl children, to be careful about the choices they make in life.

Voice of the Trumpetess, which blends Liberian pidgin English with standard English, is a moving and exhilarating autobiography that is a must read because it has many good moral lessons; anyone can learn from Mae Azango's mistake.

Lastly, Mae Azango's book tells the extraordinary story of her life - an epic of struggles, setbacks, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph.

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