A Life Well-Lived
“A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” ~ L. Frank Baum’s the Wizard of Oz~
Success in life is determined not by how much we have but by how much we give. In the month of December, we celebrate a famous and well-loved Ethiopian, Bogalech Gebre’s life, not with a heavy heart but with a joyous heart for she gave immensely to a world that otherwise would have been unbearable.
We celebrate Bogalech’s life— affectionately known as Boge—because she reached her summit—her ultimate destination—much taller than when she came to this world. Boge was born in the southern part of Ethiopia, Kembata, in a tradition where society chose to believe a woman must be kept diminished by taking what God has given her as her nature’s right: mutilating her sexual organs so she would not feel any sexual satisfaction whatsoever. As society cannot have the most precious gift of life, a child, without a woman, she could have that as a machine and not as a human who could enjoy senses and sensualities. As a result that woman not only walks a few inches shorter because of shame she was made to feel but if she survived the physical cut from bleeding to death, she would live her life ridden with diseases and all sorts of gynecological problems. “Female genitalia mutilation” is a blade that kills quietly by taking a woman’s voice. Boge said no to this silent killer. But Boge did much, much more. She educated. She taught society love; she became love itself.
Boge dedicated her life, her material, her energy and every ounce of HER to others because she loved. She loved and she said no to a harmful tradition that hurts not only physically but emotionally; a tradition that would put a woman’s life below that of animals who have at least the freedom to roam freely. She said no to indignities! She said no to inequality! She said no to inhumanity!
Boge was highly educated, cultivated, articulated and the greatest orator. She used her skills to do the unimaginable because she could influence. When Boge spoke others listened. Boge told her mesmerizing story of how a mother who had lost two daughters to the blade had the third, Boge, on the table to go through the fate that society brought upon, the helpless mother wished in low voice talking to herself, “When will this harmful tradition end?” Boge heard her mother while going through these tortuous few moments (that must have seemed for eternity) of being cut at age 12. From that moment she was determined to heal her mother and all women under the blade’s mercy. Boge survived and led to dismantle a tradition that was not serving humanity. Boge always, always without missing the beat talked about how Ethiopian women especially in the rural area were ridden of their human rights and burdened with severe economic hardship. She brought this awareness to all who listened and listen we all did. To be economically empowered meant everything to her for she saw what that meant to women’s independence that society is afraid to grant.
Today we say farewell to our beloved leader with smiles and gratitude. AWiB celebrated Boge in 2014 as one of the Women of Excellence. She is most remembered by the eloquent speech she gave as her gratitude to AWiB. In her speech she told us, “Women’s rights are human rights and not to rest until all are liberated and recognized as humans.”
Boge, we bid you farewell. Our gratitude to you as women species is massive. We thank you for showing us the way to do it in style, with laughter and eloquence. We are indebted to you, beautiful lady, and our hope is if we could travel your journey as gracefully as you did and not falter in the distance.