A Zimbabwean Scholar has been Honored with a Statue in New York City alongside Oprah Winfrey and 8 others. She is the only African woman to have received this honor.
Tererai Trent appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2009 and inspired the world with her story of overcoming enormous odds to pursue her dreams of education.
The Zimbabwean educator and humanitarian is one of 10 “Statues For Equality” created by sculptors Gillie and Marc Schattner. Trent’s statue depicts her with her arms aloft, surrounded by the flame lily, the country’s national flower.
“It comes without saying that, by projecting these women into larger-than-life-size sculptures, it will help change our society — a change that will elevate the lives of women all around the world. A change that can trigger gender equality in careers, industries and the home,” Gillie Schattner said at the ceremony.
During the unveiling of the statue, Trent said her greatest joy is passing along opportunities she received to others. She said she made a conscious decision to end a cycle of poverty and oppression that had stifled the women in her family for generations.
“I come from a very poor place, and I grew up very poor. I had four babies before I was even 18 years of age, and to think that because of the power of believing in a dream and today I am being celebrated,” Trent said. “And to think I have a statue in New York, the most celebrated city in the world? It’s just unbelievable. Even my own grandmother and my mother never dreamt of that.
“Trent grew up in a village and was denied an education because she was a girl, like her mother and grandmother before her. She secretly learned to read by using her brother’s books but was married to an abusive husband when she was 11.
But Trent did not let her dreams die. She moved to the U.S. and pursued a graduate degree, ultimately earning a Ph.D., after 20 years of effort. She taught global health at Drexel University and currently runs the Tererai Trent International Foundation, which focuses on providing education to children in rural Zimbabwe. She is a sought-after public speaker and author.
Trent’s story has inspired people around the world. Winfrey announced she would donate $1.5 million to assist Trent in building schools. To date, they have built 12 schools in rural Zimbabwe and helped 38,000 children get an education. Some of them are now going to universities.