Book Reviews

Hague Girls, Part One: Fleeing by Ewurabena

Hague Girls is a book about courage and perseverance. It contains all the ingredients of a thriller: the intrigue, the machinations and manipulations of the media and government, the interplay of family and societal relations and the persistent struggle of one woman to challenge all of these factors.

            But Hague Girls is a true story and not a work of fiction. This makes it inspiring, but also sobering.

            It is the story of Ewurabena, a human rights lawyer and activist, and founder of African Perspectives, living and working in her homeland Ghana. It recounts the relentless attacks by the media and government to smear her reputation and destroy her organization, and its attempts to stop her fight for truth and the rule of law.

            It is a story about fighting back… but not alone. Fighting back by organizing one’s family, friends, community, professional colleagues, contacts – at home and abroad – in the struggle. 

            The reader is painfully aware that this is one story among the myriad accounts and struggles – in every country – about how the forces of power and privilege try to control the daily lives of people and then ruthlessly suppress peoples’ intense struggles for equality and human rights.   

            The book analyses how white privilege is replicated across national boundaries: the author chronicles the “Amy Cooper moments” in her own life, and the state-sanctioned police murders of black people, remembering George Floyd, Semira Adamu and others, and victims and survivors of apartheid regimes. She describes the still continuing struggle for gender equality, especially in international organizations which make “paper claims” to equality. She recounts the discrimination and racism of foreigners towards the people in whose sovereign country they are guests. 

            The “take away” from this book is that the struggles initiated by one heroic Ghanian woman for her human rights can challenge the very foundations of the institutions and structures in her life. It is a struggle to hold government and the media responsible and accountable for their actions. It is a struggle for the core human values of truth and justice – which transcends cultural and geographical boundaries.

            Hague Girls is a book which should be read, and then re-read, by anyone who is part of the struggle for equality and human rights.

Beth S. Lyons

International Criminal Defence and Human Rights Lawyer

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Unraveled: A Personal Journey into Conflict, War, and Diplomacy, by Dr. Emma Osong

James Baldwin wrote that “People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” (from “Stranger in the Village” in Notes of a Native Son, Beacon Press, 1955).  

Dr. Osong’s book is about getting untrapped:  Confronting and taking control of the history and conflicts which shape one’s identity(ies) – within a family, a community and a country (ies).   With courage and eloquence, Dr. Osong describes her own journey and encourages the reader to join her (in the Calls for Action) at each step. 

Dr. Osong’s journey is framed by the historical, political and social context of Southern Cameroons (known as Ambazonia since 2017).  She was born there, and educated under the colonial power of France, which replaced Britain in the early 1960’s.  She vividly describes the continuing struggles for self-determination, independence and sovereignty in Ambazonia and details her own involvements, often as the only woman, in various diplomatic efforts and negotiations.

Dr. Osong is relentless in her commitment to equality and justice; her intellectual and political openness are embedded in all of the struggles she describes.  For her, the personal and political struggles are all part of the same struggle.  In 2016, the protests in Southern Cameroons against President Biya’s colonial rule coincided with the onset of her daughter Praxie’s severe, immobilizing illness, requiring more than 18 months of hospitalization.   Dr. Osong fights for health care for her daughter, especially from the insurance company that wanted to cut off coverage. 

This same perseverance and focus are evident in her leadership to find solutions to the continuing war and its resulting crises in Ambazonia.  Dr. Osong offers her insights on Ambazonia and Cameroun, and also on issues facing the rest of the Continent.   

In the Foreward, Dr. Osong tells the reader, “I believe there is a warrior in each of us.”  Unraveled energizes each of us to look at her or his life, and begin (or continue) the process of finding and nurturing the warrior – wherever we are, and in whatever we are doing.   

Submitted by

Beth S. Lyons

International Human Rights Lawyer

Alternate Representative to the United Nations, International Association of Democratic Lawyers

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