As far as I can remember there were always incredible (super)women in my life.The ‘born-with’ ones: my mother, grandmothers and sister, who ruled the house with extraordinary willpower (at times even in a slightly authoritarian way) and determination, and gave me the assurance that my voice was worth being heard loud and clear (even if it sometimes meant talking a little louder); my stepdaughter, who at the ripe age of 16 taught me a thing or two about social life in the digital era without ever rolling her eyes in despair (Snapchat… what? I know…), or what it means to process a huge amount of daily information while still being hopeful and positive about the future; the lifelong BFFs, who give unconditional support and unlimited advice through life’s turmoil and glee (that and a great deal of unexpected adventures); mentors, leaders, soul sisters who continue to challenge my beliefs and my positions through words of wisdom, guidance and observations; women who fought, and still fight today, to build a strong path for all of us. I wouldn’t have enough pages in this magazine to express my life-long gratitude to all the superwomen who helped make me the woman I am today.
At ELLE HQ, we never stop reflecting on the place of women in society and on the continent. It could be the many disturbing comments of a certain politician and wannabe president of the world’s superpower (who finds it okay to say in public, ‘It’s certainly not groundbreaking news that the early victories by the women on The Apprentice were, to a very large extent, dependent on their sex appeal’), another episode of gender-based violence in South Africa, or the continuous fight against a strongly patriarchal society.
We have no illusions that this issue of ELLE is going to solve the struggles that women from all walks of life continue to face. Hopefully, sharing the words of all-African heroines, change-makers and influencers, whose stories and work challenge the status quo and break through glass ceilings, serves as a good step towards celebrating a better, more beautiful life on this extraordinary continent.
So, meet The Incredibles: 50 game-changing, bar-raising, awe-inspiring women who are shaping the continent and whose work brings us sheer joy, pride and encouragement. There are many, many more women we would have loved to include in these pages; many more sung and unsung heroines we would have liked to add to the list, but it’s a start and we hope you will share with us YOUR incredible story or the one of someone you know. For now, let their stories give you as much inspiration as they have given to us. It will be worth it.
Enjoy the read, stay incredible.