Faculty member in the Department of English Language and Literature, American University of Nigeria, AUN, Dr. Hannah Mugambi, on Wednesday, April 13, presented her first novel, “Wangari the Leopard Girl: A Fight for Freedom” to the AUN community.
The event took place at the Prof. Idorenyin Akpan Media Lab of the University as part of the School of Arts and Science, SAS, Seminar Series.
The novel is based on the writer’s personal experiences as a woman in Kenya, and it takes the reader through the life of Wangari, the central character of the novel.
Wangari grows up in a small town, which she leaves in pursuit of education never to return; armed with education, she travels the world, trying to build a career for herself.
Wangari marries because society says she should, and her marriage to Stoll is fraught with emotional, sexual, and physical abuses, but she eventually divorces her husband and pursues self-actualization.
According to Dr. Mugambi, the novel is a story of strength and triumph over adversity.
“Wangari discovered her inner strength and her resilience and determination to keep going and to keep moving.
“That is why when I write the title ‘Wangari The Leopard Girl’, I’m creating the image of a woman who is not a victim but rather a victor,” she said.
The book explores the themes of marriage and marital abuse, female sexuality, and freedom for the African woman.
And Dr. Mugambi confessed that it was difficult for her to expose her experiences, especially on a sensitive issue like marital rape.
“I stepped out of the situation and wrote and hoped that no one would judge me but that people would look into their own lives and see,” she said.
The novel was reviewed by Motunrayo Ogunrinbokun of the AUN Writing Center, who described the novel as great and therapeutic for every woman struggling with abuse.
According to her, “Wangari tries to challenge the masculine assumptions that define the woman as a voiceless person” and the book “is an affirmation of the tenacity of African women to survive in the face of abuse.”
Miss Ogunrinbokun also described Wangari’s character as “strong, brave, and tenacious” while comparing the author to Flora Nwapa, author of Efuru, Mariama Bâ, author of So Long a Letter, and other African female literary greats.
The presentation was well attended, with several faculty members making positive remarks on the book.
Interim Associate Dean of AUN School of Arts and Science, Dr. Jacob Jacob, lauded Mugambi’s efforts and praised the book.
“I’m really pleased that we have some very strong women in our midst, and I’m pleased that our female students have people that they can look up to and learn from,” he said.
Wangari The Leopard Girl is available for purchase on online platforms such as Amazon, Ebay, Kindle and others.
By Zamiyat Abubakar