Phenomenal Women (girl) – Anne Frank

One of the most distressing and compelling books that I read in my childhood was the Diary of Anne Frank.  Anne was born in Frankfurt, Germany and was held captive with her family during Nazi occupation.  The diary she wrote which was published posthumously shares her experiences of hiding with her family in the two years preceding their capture.

The diary is compelling because of its simplicity, written by a young girl there is an honesty and candour that both engages yet creates consternation as the tension and fear in some entries is almost palpable.

This entry from her diary demonstrates the optimism of youth which also creates a bittersweet, moment considering how well-known she has become.

I finally realized that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist because that’s what I want! I know I can write …, but it remains to be seen whether I really have talent …

And if I don’t have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can’t imagine living like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! …

I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me!

When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?”

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Phenomenal Women – Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

I am sure that you have all heard of Nelson Mandela, but there is not as much information about his first wife, Winnie Mandela.  Winnie Mandela was a fierce woman who stood beside her husband as he fought against apartheid in South Africa.  Not only was she a passionate activist but she also held political office and headed the African National Congress Women’s League.

Born in South Africa to parents who were disappointed that she was a girl Winnie spent her young years as a tomboy as a way to belatedly fulfill their wishes.  Unsurprisingly it wasn’t long before she had her first experience of injustice within the racially oppressive Apartheid system and this early interaction with hate would set the wheels in motion for her future battles against injustice.

A little-known fact is that Winnie also experienced prison life in South Africa after being arrested for her role in a protest against the discriminatory South African laws.  Sadly the strain of extended separation and increasingly divergent political views split the Mandelas apart in 1996, but Winnie Mandela remains a real heroine for Justice in her own right.