There is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Joyce Banda of Malawi, Catherine Samba-Panza of the Central African Republic, and now, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, new elected and approved president of the island nation of Mauritius. Gurib-Fakim represents one of a steadily rising class of individuals who are rapidly changing the face of leadership on the continent. Gurib-Fakim brings a lot more to the table than her political prowess; she wears many hats, which provides a great foundation as a leader.
Gurib-Fakim was born in Surinam, Mauritius, attended primary school in Saint-Patrice and graduated with a Higher School Leaving Certificate from Loreto College Quatre Bornes. She subsequently moved to England, where she graduated from the University of Surrey with a bachelor of science in Chemistry and a doctor of philosophy in Organic Chemistry from Exeter University. She returned to Mauritius shortly after and began her new post-graduate role.
Gurib-Fakim is described by many as a pace setter and a woman of many ‘firsts’. In 2001, she became the first female professor at the University of Mauritius, then the first female Dean of the Faculty of Sciences and the first female Vice Chancellor. She credits her parents and her husband, Dr. Anwar Fakim for her accomplishments to date. “I am eternally grateful to them. Education was not free in 1976. The school fees were paid at the time, but my parents did not skimp on resources. I say thank you because they gave me the opportunity to move forward. I have also been fortunate to have a husband who was supportive as I moved forward in my career,” she said in an interview with Lemauricien.
The award winning scientist has received numerous honors and is well published in peer reviewed academic journals, but perhaps her latest honor as the incumbent of the highest seat in the land recognizes her as a role model and a servant leader to millions.