My mother called her ‘Chief Butcher’ and justifiably so. This is a woman who hunts alligators in the forest with just her bare hands and a stick and skilfully skins it. She will go into the bush and hunt all sorts. She’s the only woman I know around me who can slit the throat of a goat without flinching. Her courage knew no limits.

A smoked fish seller she was. Still is. A woman of simple means with no airs or graces who single-handedly has put five of her children through university with the sixth and last born, a girl, currently waiting to also enter the University later this year.

What’s even remarkable is that three of those kids she calls her own are actually her husband’s children from another relationship. She took them in when their mother took off many years ago and holds them dear. Those kids don’t joke with her too.

Many many years ago, she decided that the cycle of poverty, abuse and the poor outlook of life in her family was going to end with her. Through sheer grit, hard work, countless sacrifices, the desire to give her kids something better than she’s had, she did it.

For 20 plus years I’ve known her and for all of those years, Da Sophie wakes up at 1am every Monday and Thursday and walks the distance from Asukwao to the Akosombo Market to pick a bus to Accra to buy her baskets of fish and returns to Akosombo to sell at the market. The other days, she will pick a car to the surrounding towns and walk from one community to the other to sell her fish. And this she’s done with her babies at various stages of her life strapped to her back. And she sold very very good fish too and her prices were fair.

My admiration for Da Sophie knows no limit.
She was married off in her late teens to a man decades older, who used to physically and verbally abuse her. One day when he was at it again, she turned the tables on him, locked him up in the room and gave him the beating of his life. Suffice to say, her dear husband took the hint and never laid his hands on her again

She’s also trained the kids (five boys and a girl) so well. They cook, they clean, they understand the meaning of hardwork, diligence, consistency, respect for all and have an unparalleled sense of responsibility.

So on this International Women’s Day, I celebrate Da Sophie, and the Da Sophies of this world who even without the benefit of education, representation, access, economic power have chosen to challenge and change the status quo and are smashing and shattering all the barriers they’ve encountered in this life, no matter the cost.

I celebrate the women who will never be called to the table. I celebrate our ‘local’ heros who have changed the narratives in their families and communities and forever changed the destinies of generations, for all the right reasons.

Da Sophie, you’re a legend…take a bow!