Exploring the journey of 3 inspiring trailblazers

On societal obstacles and regaining strength

What if we start taking education of self a bit more seriously?

Let’s pause for a second to truly ponder. Who are we at our core? What do we know about our history, our people, our heritage, our family, our parents? What is our purpose? Where are we heading? Too many of us not only lack that knowledge but also have internalized a distorted narrative regarding their being.

Having a clear sense of self is vital, to keep going, to grow through the ever-challenging circumstances that we will encounter throughout our path. But also, to value the more comforting, loving moments in our journey.  

It does not mean submitting to every tradition that is part of our heritage, it signifies being more knowledgeable and understanding regarding our true self in its entirety, which in turns can enable greater healing and reconnection with that authentic self.

The more we know, the more proudly we can stand in our true being, take pride in our path no matter how rocky it may be and how long our preparation time is lasting.  We would be assured that we are directed right where we need to be.

Lately, I regained some through seeking knowledge, seeking paths of women, women just like me, whose names, features or heart-breaks may be different. Yet, who share a story which I’m not foreign to. These paths forced me to look inside.

Collecting stories of flamboyant women who have lived a bit longer than me has been a ground-breaking tool which triggered my imagination and made me reconsider the possibilities.


3 inspiring trailblazers

From the Body Talk exhibition curated by Koyo Kouoh

Koyo Kouoh, art curator

Based in Dakar after a childhood in Cameroon and teenage years in Switzerland.

Today, Koyo Kouoh heads the RAW Material Company (raw  means “pioneer” in Wolof), which she designed as a center for exhibition and experimentation, a factory where knowledge is produced, and where cultural events alternate, residencies for artists, writers or curators, conferences, debates where everyone is invited to think beyond disciplines.

Her work  is multi-dimensional, among others things she explores, the relationship African women have with their bodies, which can be a political tool  of domination or resistance, a place of crime when it is violated, abused or killed, in the Body Talk. The questions of gender, feminism, sexuality are examined and redesigned.


Tanella Boni – professor, novelist, poetess

Born in Abidjan, Tanella Boni became a professor of philosophy at the University of Abidjan, she also writes poems, novels, short stories, criticism, and children’s literature.

“One resists by the words,” says Tanella Boni, her poems and philosophical works question the way in which women and men can preserve their dignity, despite the violence that unfolds.

One of her main works, “ Que vivent les femmes d’Afrique ?” questions the concept of gender and the place of African women in feminist thinking, both as an object of study and as authors, and shows how “female insecurity” can be a a force of action and thought.




Olivia Umurerwa Rutazibwa, professor in development studies, journalist

She is a Rwandese-Belgian professor at the University of Portsmouth, UK, Olivia Umurerwa Rutazibwa questions international politics from a decolonial perspective. She questions development aid policies and note that the latter replay the idea of a “civilizing mission” and perpetuate “a colonial status quo. She researches ways to decolonise international solidarity by recovering and reconnecting philosophies and practices of dignity and self-determination.

Main picture © Djénéba Diallo