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The salvation stories of African women: Wangare, Grace, Deborah, Marveille and Mariam

«African women carry everything on their heads (vases, food, everything) to do this you need to keep your back straight and have great balance. African society stands on the straight backs of these women.” Born from the collective of journalists** Hic Sunt Leones African Dreamers**, the story-project that chose to bring to light the stories of five African girls.

Wangare, Grace, Deborah, Marvelille and Mariam did not leave. By choice, poverty, lack of alternatives they remained in their countries of origin. However, amidst a thousand difficulties, they are trying not to give up their dreams and their freedom. Between mud and shacks, between synthetic drugs and subsistence sexual violence. In three years, helped by street volunteers, these girls have tried to change their lives by fighting against prejudices, beliefs, violence and those ancient cultures that too often deny universal rights.


The story begins with the words of Nice Nailantei Leng'ete, 26 year old Maasai activist, champion of the rights of young African women. «I will continue to fight for girls to grow up and become women without being mutilated. All African girls must be able to become women and be able to dream. I am sure that all this is possible.”

The Italian journalists of Hic Sunt Leones (Roberto Cavalieri, Francesco Cavalli, Davide Demichelis, Angelo Ferrari, Raffaele Masto, Alessandro Rocca, Luciano Scalettari) traveled across the continent to find Nice and look for a starting point for the story of five African girls, followed, supported economically (also thanks to partners such as Fondazione Zanetti Ets) and told about their lives for three years.

African dreamers

African dreamers

Wangare lives in Nairobi and after living on the streets since she was a child, she dreams of becoming a dancer. Deborah was born in Bagamoyo, Tanzania and wants to become a lawyer to defend the rights of girls who like her have been “house servant”.

Grace (Kadjado, Kenya) managed to escape the harsh traditions of her tribe and now aspires to be Kenya's first female president while Merveille (Bukavu, Congo) accused of being a witch from an early age, today she is studying to become a journalist and has forgiven everyone who hurt her. Finally Mariam (Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast), with a past of drugs and prostitution behind her, managed to study sewing by the nuns and today she is proud of her atelier, a yellow container near her shack.

«With African Dreamers we want to try to give voice to that part of the world that very often does not have a voice, the weakest part of African society: girls and women – say the authors – We want to make people imagine the Africa that is not present in our daily news. This is the mission of Hic Sunt Leones: we have decided that those chronicles of simple stories of courage and freedom will become our stories.”

Source: Vanity Fair

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