The egg says, “I am like authority. If you hold me too hard, I break; if you let me go, I fall and break to pieces on the ground.” (
Women are still learning how to lead. Since we know what we do not know, we may be better off than men who think they know. With centuries of practice, men are still making a mess for women to clean up. For too long we have accepted the work and expected none of the authority or even the credit. Increasingly, we women are demanding our share of authority not just at home but in the boardroom and in parliament.
Girls usually become leaders much younger than boys. When the new baby comes, parents usually give some of their authority to the big sister. Parents may blame the three-year-old girl for any harm that comes to baby under her watch. If she and a younger child have a fight when they are grown, parents will say, to big sister, “You are the older one, so you must set the example.” Perhaps some of us avoid authority because we link it to blame, sacrifice, loss of childhood, and loss of fun.
While the girls are doing chores and supervising younger children, the boys (certainly in
Women with state authority used to be rare. The first female elected to head a government was Sirivamo Bandaranaike of
Women continue to search for positive ways to handle authority. Most women, such as Maggie Thatcher of
My grandniece, you can begin to practice handling authority as soon as you have any kind of leadership role – at home or at school. Remember the lesson of the egg. Carry an egg around with you for a few days and see what you have to do to protect the egg.
Understand that you can be gentle without allowing the egg to fall. Notice that you can hold the egg firmly without crushing it. Remember that if you put down the egg, someone else may pick it up and act as if the egg belongs to him because that is what he grew up to believe.
And if you find no other sources to guide you, Zayda, remember the wisdom the ancestors have set down for us in these proverbs. Remember women such as Yaa Asantewaa and Harriet Tubman. They had the courage to take up the egg and nurture it. They could be tough and gentle, flexible and uncompromising.
Balance and self-trust are some of the qualities we need to feel at home with the authority that belongs as much to us as to anyone else.
Your shangazi Nothango (Yvonne)