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The Girls in the Wild Fig Tree: How One Girl Fought to Save Herself, Her Sister and Thousands of Girls Worldwide

Nice Leng'ete

5 Reviews

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Political activism

By the Amref activist Nice Leng'ete, one of the TIME's 100 Most Influential People in 2018, an inspirational story of one girl who changed the minds of her elders, reformed traditions from the inside, and is creating a better future for girls and women throughout Africa

'A real hero looks like Nice Leng'ete . . . [An] elegant and inspiring memoir' New York Times

Nice Leng'ete was raised in a Maasai village in Kenya. In 1998, when Nice was six, her parents fell sick and died, and Nice and her sister Soila were taken in by their father's brother, who had little interest in the girls beyond what their dowries might fetch. Fearing "the cut" (female genital mutilation, a painful and sometimes deadly ritualistic surgery), which was the fate of all Maasai women, Nice and Soila climbed a tree to hide.

Nice hoped to find a way to avoid the cut forever, but Soila understood it would be impossible. But maybe if one of the sisters submitted, the other would be spared. After Soila chose to undergo the surgery, sacrificing herself to save Nice, their lives diverged. Soila married, dropped out of school, and had children -- all in her teenage years -- while Nice postponed receiving the cut, continued her education, and became the first in her family to attend college.

Supported by Amref, Nice used visits home to set an example for what an uncut Maasai woman can achieve. Other women listened, and the elders finally saw the value of intact, educated girls as the way of the future. The village has since ended FGM entirely, and Nice continues the fight to end FGM throughout Africa and the world.

Nice's journey from "heartbroken child and community outcast, to leader of the Maasai" is an inspiration and a reminder that one person can change the world -- and every girl is worth saving.

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Praise for The Girls in the Wild Fig Tree: How One Girl Fought to Save Herself, Her Sister and Thousands of Girls Worldwide

  • A real hero looks like Nice Leng'ete, the Kenyan anti-female-genital-mutilation activist whose response to her childhood was to improve the experience for others . . . [An] elegant and inspiring memoir - New York Times

  • She's an amazing, amazing person

  • Nice was the first woman in her community to be given a black talking stick for elders. And now she speaks on a global stage, using her voice to raise awareness about her work. FGM and child marriage will end in Africa because of the likes of Nice

  • Nice has been battling since she was eight years old and, thanks to her courage and efforts, thousands of girls have managed to unjust and terrible fate

  • An incredibly powerful story that offers real hope for the future - Kirkus

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Nice Leng'ete

Nice Nailantei Leng'ete grew up in the village of Noomayianat, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya. After her parents both died within a year of each other in 1998, Nice was sent to live with her uncle. At the age of eight, she avoided being subjected to FGM by running away from home, multiple times. She attended college in Nairobi before joining Amref, where she is now a Health Africa Project Officer and continues to challenge the attitudes of her male-dominated tribe in her quest to end FGM. Since 2009, Nice and Amref Health Africa have helped more than 16,000 girls avoid female genital mutilation/cutting in Kenya and Tanzania.

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