This book is the product of the contributions of many people in Southern Africa and beyond over the last twenty years. I hereby wish to express my gratitude to all of them.
It all started in Zambia in the 1980s. My interest in women's role in politics was awakened while I lived in Lusaka, being confronted daily with government controlled newspaper reports that in turn praised women “marketers” as loyal party supporters and blamed them and young professional women for the country's economic and social problems. The often ridiculous daily avalanche of news partly amused and partly concerned readers. I would like to thank Ken Good for initiating me into “serious” newspaper reading and clipping in Zambia, and into using the information, however scurrilous it seemed, as research material, an art that he excels in. My collection of Zambian newspaper clippings from the 1980s constitutes the central basis of this book.
Another friend who deserves my sincere gratitude and thanks is Arne Tostensen, former director of the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen, who encouraged me to turn my collection of clippings into a major research project into women and politics in Southern Africa. Arne offered me seed money for an explorative trip to Southern Africa and time to elaborate proposals for funding at a time when women and politics was still a not so fashionable research area.
Beyond these two fathers, this book ows its existence to many, many mothers and sisters. I wish to thank all the women politicians, all the gender activists, all the women members of women's organisations and movements who kindly made themselves available to me, for their time, enthusiasm and patience. I wish to thank all the women with busy schedules who explained, confided in and discussed with me the matters that concerned them and me.
In particular I wish to thank Jenny Schreiner for sharing with me her insights into the personal drama of entering parliament and Thendiwe Mtinso for talking into the evening about the continuing struggle that parliament represented to her. Mary Turok gave me on two occasions valuable inside views into the ups and downs of parliamentary life and sisterhood. I also wish to thank Thembeka Gamndama for talking from the heart about the loneliness involved in turning from a small town teacher into a Cape Town senator. I wish to thank Sylvia Masebo for letting me get to know her energetic self; Edith Nawakwi for her openness and the very bumpy ride in her car; Mama Kankassa and Bernadette Sikanika for being themselves and letting me finally respect them; and Dorcas Magang for not being shy to call a spade a spade. I would also like to thank Margaret Dongo for inspiring with her courage and dedication and for being fearless in her pursuit of her vision of the better society which led her, as a young woman, into the struggle for independence as a combatant.