Mama Sophia may be the author of the new bestselling autobiography, The Woman in Me: The Struggles of an African Woman to Discover Her Identity and Authority, but there is much more to her story.
An Igbo woman from Igbo-Ukwu, of Eastern Nigeria, Ngozi Udoye, (known affectionately as NG or Mama Sophia), she graduated summa cum laude from the University of Nigeria Nsukka where she received the Indira Gandhi award as the most outstanding female graduate in 1998.
She has made it her mission to emancipate, liberate and empower African women and children. After migrating to the United States in 2003, she went on to receive her master’s degree and doctorate from Loyola University Chicago.
“Mama Sophia has very laudable goals and is able to make a huge difference in the country. Her purpose is not an easy one to achieve, as the focus of her efforts, the women she is trying to empower, do not see themselves as being in need of emancipation,” says Dr. Olajide Oladipo, York College’s department of Business and Economics in the School of Business and Information Systems. “Mama Sophia realizes the enormity of her project and if she remains resolute in pursuit of her goals will be able to make a remarkable difference in the country of Nigeria.”
NG´s efforts might seem overwhelming to some, but she seems to be determined to make a difference, even with the odds against her. “The plight of women in Nigeria varies with their socio-economic status. The rural women are not usually educated and very financially dependent on the men. They are expected to be humble and submissive. They are not willing or able to leave abusive marriages and usually will turn a blind eye to the infidelity of their husbands…The educated women on the other hand are seen as pompous and copying ‘the whiteman’, when they assert their independence. Both groups of women could use the help of Mama Sophia,” says Oladipo. “The plight of the children mirrors the plight of their mothers to an extent. Children are in an even more precarious situation because of the widely accepted belief in Nigeria that children are to be seen and not heard.”
Now through her autobiography, The Woman in Me, the world is learning about Mama Sophia and her goals. “It is important for the world to learn more about Mama Sophia to create awareness of the situation in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, and also to let the world know that there are Nigerians who are willing to help their country if given the necessary assistance and encouragement,” says Oladipo. “The Nigerian government does not exactly encourage activists like Mama Sophia as she is likely to be perceived as giving the country a poor image in the international community.”
But as Mama Sophia says in a press statement, she is used to going it alone. “With my college education, I gained a voice and became empowered. I started to speak but felt like a lone voice,” says Mama Sophia. “At this time, I made a firm resolution to stand by my African sisters, mothers and daughters in their quest for justice, truth, peace and liberation.”