Lawyer Musu Bakoto Sawo is a prime example of a woman who overcame her horrific early-life circumstances. From forced genitalia mutilation as a child to being married off against her will, Sawo is a survivor well within her own right. Receiving the Daily Trust African of the Year Award 2020 is just one of the many highlights of her growth and success. Recounting her childhood experience, Musu Bakoto Sawo said,
“When I was about five or six years old, my parents took me to my grandmother’s house. I was mutilated over there. I did not imagine the repercussions that excision would have on me.”
Like the rest of the world, African women face a number of injustices. However, building from her past, Sawo is combating women’s injustice by empowering the next generation of African females. Perhaps, her actions can help young African girls to aspire to greater heights. Notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Daily Trust African of the Year Award 2020 ceremony held in Abuja, Nigeria on 15th January 2021. However, the celebration was toned-down due to severe safety protocols.
Musu Bakoto Sawo’s Achievements
From her challenging upbringing in The Gambia, Sawo met appalling cultural practices, just like many young females in the West African country. However, the scars have become her motivation to fight injustice females face—not only in The Gambia but in the African continent as a whole.
Sawo bagged a Masters degree in Human Rights and Democratization at The University of Pretoria, South Africa. This was shortly after completing her undergraduate Bachelor of Law degree at the University of The Gambia. Musu Bakato Sawo currently practices her profession in the Faculty of Law at The University of The Gambia. On the side, she is also the National Coordinator for young women, under the non-profit ‘Think Young Women’.
Musu Bakoto Sawo’s Current Projects
The non-profit organization focuses on many injustices women face all over Africa by educating women on their rights. Think Young Women places a large emphasis on current barbaric acts women face to this day. Major issues such as Gender-Based Violence, harmful traditional practices (namely genitalia mutilation), and child marriages are all at the forefront of her teachings. According to UNICEF, The Daily Trust African of the Year recipient tells her students to,
“Come out and be the change that you can be because your children may be victims.”, adding that her “desire is to have a generation of enlightened and strong young women.”
The Daily Trust Award Selection Process
The Daily Trust is one of the leading independent Nigerian publications, in Abuja, Nigeria. In 2008, the newspaper introduced the Daily Trust African of the Year Award. Notable previous winners include South African humanitarian, Rosie Mashale and Congolese Doctor, Dr. Denis Mkwege, who was the first-ever recipient of the noble award.
For the prestigious Daily Trust African of the Year 2020 award nomination opened between August and October. Every year, the Daily Trust African of the Year Award is adjudicated by the seven-member pan-African committee. Through deliberation, the committee reviews the various award nominees. The individual who displays the most ideal practice of work towards positive change on the continent becomes the winner of that year’s Daily Trust African of the Year award.
The Daily Trust African of the Year 2020 Award goes to Musu Bakato Sawo
Submission of nominations for the 13th edition of the Daily Trust African of the Year awards was through an online platform. As always, the most notable criteria is an African with extraordinary contributions to humanity. Upon announcing the award recipient for 2020, Chairman of the Daily Trust selection committee and former Botswana President, Mr. Festus Mogae said,
“Musu Bakoto deserves the award for her continuous work to end violence against girls and women. This includes child marriage and female genital mutilation.”
Along with Musu Bakoto Sawo’s inspirational acts of philanthropy, there are many humble individuals whose core drive is to create brighter days for vulnerable communities across the African continent. For more information about the inspirational education done by 2020 Daily Trust Award winner, Musu Bakoto Sawo, visit Think Young Women.