May 30, 2022

Meet the Woman Who Inspired the “Me Too” Movement in Africa

Toufah Jallow

Toufah Jallow is an inspiration to Black men and women around the world. Through her efforts on the African continent, she was able to shine a light on sexual abusers who have gone too long without consequence for their actions.

During her time in Gambia, Jallow etched her name into history after winning a national beauty pageant at the age of 18. When the then-President of the country proposed to be engaged to Jallow, she declined. According to Toronto Star, Jallow was raped by the spurned politician. This caused her to flee the country to live in Canada.

In an interview with Style Canada, Jallow was asked why she chose to write a memoir on her experiences as an outspoken rape victim. She responded, "I had spoken out about what had happened to me...but those both focused only on the immediate circumstances around being raped...[T]hose cheering me on were exaggerating my bravery and holding me up as an impossible hero, distancing me from the average girl I so desperately wanted to connect with."

The interviewer later asked Jallow if she ever had a moment of realization that she had made a huge impact on the MeToo movement. Jallow answered, "We do not say the word “rape” in my culture, we do not even have words for it, because we want to pretend like it does not exist, and you cannot find justice and recognition for something that doesn’t exist – at least in the awareness of the general populace. Now Gambian women sing about rape, male-dominant drama groups make poems about it, young people scream the word in marches and political leaders say it out loud!" In proud words, Jallow concludes, "That is victory!"

Her book, Toufah Jallow: The Woman Who Inspired an African #MeToo Movement, is available in bookstores nationwide.