Wildfire to publish Leng’ete memoir

Wildfire to publish Leng’ete memoir

Wildfire will publish The Girls in the Wild Fig Tree, a memoir from activist Nice Leng’ete, in partnership with Little, Brown US and Amref Health Africa.

Wildfire editorial director Ella Gordon acquired UK rights from Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein on behalf of Peter McGuigan at Foundry Literary + Media, who has also sold Italian and Brazilian rights. Headline and Little, Brown US will unite for a co-ordinated global campaign to amplify and harmonise with Amref’s efforts and to raise the profile of Leng’ete’s work on a global platform. 

The Girls in the Wild Fig Tree: How One Girl Fought to Save Herself, Her Sister and Thousands of Girls Worldwide will be published in hardback, export trade paperback, e-book and audio on 14th September 2021, to coincide with the gathering of the United Nations General Assembly.

Leng’ete, a young Maasai woman, helped end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Kenya, and is now the official spokesperson for Amref Health Africa's campaign to end the practice globally.

Born in a remote village in Kenya, Leng'ete saw the young girls she grew up with receive "the cut" — the rite of passage into female adulthood in Maasai culture. To resist the cut meant becoming an outcast. Yet Leng'ete managed to avoid it and stay in school, facing incredible stigma doing so. At the age of 21, Leng'ete moved to Nairobi to work for Amref, and eventually developed a platform for convincing women across Africa to forego the cut. Kenya outlawed the cut in 2011 and the Maasai people abandoned it in 2014. 

To date, Leng’ete and Amref have collaborated to help more than 16,000 girls avoid FGM in Kenya and Tanzania, and Leng’ete also recently opened A Nice Place, a leadership academy and safe house for girls at risk of FGM in Kenya. 

Leng’ete said: "Change does not mean giving up what is good in ourselves; it means keeping what is best while accepting the need to grow. I am Maasai. I am part of the community, and it is part of me. My life began here, and so did my mission to end FGM and educate women and girls all over the world. And I’m so glad to be able to share this mission with the readers of my book."

Gordon commented: "Nice has devoted her life to the fight against FGM, and the breadth of her achievements for this cause is staggering. One might expect a book on this subject to make for difficult reading, but Nice’s vivid storytelling, her hopeful outlook and the quantifiable progress she and Amref have made in protecting women and girls across the globe make The Girls in the Wild Fig Tree one of the most joyous books I’ve published." 

Judith Clain, executive editor at Little, Brown US, added: "Nice’s story is one of extraordinary resilience, courage and kindness. She offers a way to make change that honours traditions while still transforming the old ways. Her work speaks to all of us about deep transformations in societies. It’s also an astonishing story about two sisters who saved each other."