“However Long The Night” Inspires Pangea’s Africa Pod
The book, “However Long the Night”, Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of Africa Women and Girls Triumph, by Aimee Molloy was read and discussed by Africa Pod members recently and was thought pertinent to some of our Kenyan partners.
This important and thoroughly enjoyable book begins with the arrival in Dakar, Senegal in 1976 of Molly Melching, an American student intent on studying linguistics at the University of Dakar. She falls in love with the country and its people and spends the next 40 years deeply engaged in the betterment of the lives of Senegalese women through her organization, Tostan. This is not the story of an American arriving with solutions, but of a person who possesses the intuition, intelligence and respect necessary to the understanding that change comes about through utilizing the wisdom, traditions, preferences and knowledge of local people. And time. The book is about her journey but one that is inseparable from all the important Senegalese players that contributed to the formation and success of Tostan. Many significant village projects were undertaken during the first 15 years of Tostan’s inception. In 1995, after teaching village women about their human rights under both Senegalese and International law, Tostan began the ‘conversation’ with these women about Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, that (by the time of this book) resulted in ending a centuries old tradition among 90% of those tribes that had practiced it. It’s a remarkable and compelling story of the very best of an NGO’s transformative powers.
Tostan now works in other countries, spreading this most intelligent and effective means of bringing about village-based progress and change. Regarding FGM, the people of Somaliland, working with Tostan, have ended the practice throughout their country.
Reading the book inspired Pangea’s Africa pod to reach out to two of our partners working on eradicating FGM (CIFORD Kenya and Dandelion Africa) in their rural communities to see if they were aware of the book. They were not, so we have sent them our books as per their request. Africa pod members are looking forward to some interesting discussions with them soon.