From Toufah’s will to escape her country, there is so much bravery in this book to speak out against her abuser, Yahya Jammeh, the president of The Gambia. What stands out so much to me is the disbelievers. A man launching a manhunt for a 19-year-old young woman isn’t normal. Why else would he attempt to hunt her down, if not for her carrying such an enormous secret?
Toufah explored what life is like in The Gambia, familial relationships, poverty, struggles, and so much more. She placed you in her household through her words and gave the reader a real sense of what life was like. Then, after the pageant, her fear leaped off the page. Toufah is a well-written memoir, of a country in turmoil, of a young woman’s desperate attempt to flee her country. Of her strength and resilience at starting over on a new continent at such a young age. A must-read for everyone.
A final note. I was looking into the publisher for this book, as I am grateful they sent this along. It is listed as Steerforth Press, which makes me incredibly pleased, as they are only 20 minutes away from me. I live in a very small country town, and for us, having a publisher of such an incredible book, practically right in your backyard, is something fairly special.
Toufah is available for preorder on Amazon for $11.99, it releases October 12th.
About the Book:
Before launching an unprecedented protest movement, Toufah Jallow was just a 19-year-old dreaming of a scholarship.
Encouraged by her mother to pursue her own ambitions, Toufah entered a presidential competition purportedly designed to identify the country’s smart young women and support their educational and career goals. Toufah won.
Yahya Jammeh, the dictator who had ruled The Gambia all of Toufah’s life, styled himself as a pious yet progressive protector of women. At first he behaved in a fatherly fashion toward Toufah, but then proposed marriage, and she turned him down. On a pretext, his female cousin then lured Toufah to the palace, where he drugged and raped her.
Toufah could not tell anyone. There was literally no word for rape in her native language. If she told her parents, they would take action, and incur Jammeh’s wrath. Wearing a niqab to hide her identity, she gave Jammeh’s security operatives the slip and fled to Senegal. Her eventual route to safety in Canada is full of close calls and intrigue.
18 months after Jammeh was deposed, Toufah Jallow became the first woman in The Gambia to make a public accusation of rape against him, sparking marches of support and a social media outpouring of shared stories among West African women under #IAmToufah.
Each brave and bold decision she made set Toufah on the path to reclaim the personal growth and education that Jammeh had tried to steal from her, a future also of leadership and advocacy for survivors of sexual violence, especially in heavily patriarchal countries lacking resources and laws to protect women and even the language with which to speak openly about sexual threats and violence.