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Book Review: Before I forget – Some Personal Reflections

Book Review: Before I forget – Some Personal Reflections

 Title: Before I forget – Some Personal Reflections
 Author: Bridget Cox
ISBN: 978-0-578-04153-7
Publisher: Bridget Cox

Bridget Cox’s début work ‘Before I forget – Some personal reflections,’ is an evocative journey of a middle class, professional Sierra Leonean woman, who has served in many responsible positions, both in Sierra Leone, and the United States. She was the foremost University educated broadcaster, and program manager at the former reputable Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service, where she presented among other programs ‘Mainly for Women.’ She also worked for the United Nations in New York, and UNDP, as press officer in her homeland. She went on to serve as Deputy Town Clerk of the Municipality of Freetown. Ms Cox has under her belt a mountain of international experiences, she shares with readers. Young African women are often caught up in the crossfire of seductive western values that are competing with cultural African values.

As a mother and grandmother, she has lived a bitter-sweet life, deserving reflections. Cox does not claim that her life has been flawless. She painfully grieves her divorce with her husband, who was a diplomat and professor. She sincerely compliments him, ‘He was an encyclopedia.’ But the demon of alcohol abuse had possessed his life and their strained marriage. Resorting to profuse drinking could be a mask veiling a deep rooted problem. Arrogance, ego and denial ruined her husband of 15 years of marriage, like the sting of terminal cancer. Is self destructive behavior typical of highly educated Sierra Leonean men? Introspection could probably illuminate and help to correct this malady.

She confronts the demons, including her own, with love, passion and compassion. When she falls down, she does not stay down and break down. She gets up brushes herself and then charts a new path, and keeps on moving. In today’s bruising, cut throat, competitive theater, it is very easy for one to fall into the trap of pursuing vanity at the expense of one’s soul. She cajoles and enlightens us to pay more attention to eternal truth. The house in the heart should be built on rock-solid foundation, not quick sand. Proper nurturing of children is imperative for them to develop wings like pepper birds, before flying out and become independent. Parents are the kids’ primary teachers. But sadly, many kids grow up without functional parents or role models. Coco nut does not fall far from the tree.

Cox is a product of a concerted and loving community. A child that washes its hands clean will eat from the same bowl with the elders. Today’s deplorable environments are partly responsible for the multitude of complex problems that societies have to endure.

Her ancestors had endured the indignity and agony of slavery, and British colonial rule, once prevalent in West Africa. Freetown, the capital, was a settlement for freed slaves in Sierra Leone. Education then was the locomotive, steering the engine of transition and transformation, effecting attitudinal and behavioral change in the lives of many settlers. Many of them had embraced education to help improve their lives and status in society. There’s no substitute for education. Invariably, the elite could be as snobbish as they are protective in making right choices. One should understand Cox’s sociological genesis to appreciate the norms and values, responsible for her cultural beauty that she generously articulates. Her writing style is simply unique, and her frankness and transparency is razor thin. She indicts the westerner’s stereo type myth that African women are poor, homogeneous, and subservient. An educated African woman is equally as informed and independent as any western woman. Though an African woman is innately more family oriented. She loves and cherishes her extended family in the same vein. For Cox, failure is not an option in life. She’s the epitome of a resilient and tenacious role model, whom, young girls and women could emulate. She’s not an easy cookie one can easily crumble.

The most intriguing moment in her book is her narrative leading to her rape nightmare. Orchestrated by someone she knew very well, respected and trusted. Following events would sharply prove otherwise. It’s a taboo for African women to talk openly about a rape episode. But Cox does so with passion, to find celestial healing and harmony, navigating through the double-edged sword of forgiveness. Savagery and brutality still prevails in Sierra Leone today. Older, sometimes powerful men wage sexual wars on the private body parts of vulnerable children, girls, and women, just because the perpetrators could get away with it. They leave their victims traumatized, worthless, and a battered image of low self esteem.

Sierra Leone’s justice system is tardy and mired with politics in dispensing justice to the numerous, often powerless females. One finds inspiration connecting with the numerous trials and tribulations that Bridget so honestly narrates. She carves her own practical style to burry the hatchet, and learns from each experience. Shouldn’t we all behave likewise? For vengeance is mine, says The Almighty, and I will repay. I would recommend this book, especially to girls, women, and rape victims, vulnerable to the brutal streets in the west and back home that are imperiled by men. Men with an open mind could also benefit from it.

I anticipate reading more of Bridget Cox’s work. I hope she utilizes her communication skills to champion the voices of women and girls, especially African women. In the same token, she’s throwing an open challenge to all women, to explore the literary arena with an open door policy, to help literate and liberate women. Tapping into her intuition, she believes, if I can do it, so could you. Indeed, when women tell their stories, the world listens and pays undivided attention. Only then would the world sound an alarm bell for urgent, dynamic, and meaningful change.

Roland Bankole Marke © 2010

To secure copies of ‘Before I forget –Some personal reflections’
Contact: Bridget Cox: email bdovecox@aol.com  or call – 301-937-2125
House of Vanyah: phone: 301-523-3062
Roland Bankole Marke is a Sierra Leone author, poet and commentator, with 3 books under his belt: Teardrops Keep Falling, Silver Rain and Blizzard and Harvest of Hate: and numerous stories and articles published around the world. Visit his website: www.rolandmarke.com

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