Monica Clarke has dedicated much of her professional and private life to caring for the vulnerable and to raising her voice, as a speaker and a writer, on their behalf.
Born in South Africa, under the Apartheid regime as a member of the indigenous Khoikhoen people, she first qualified as a nurse and a midwife before retraining as a lawyer, specialising in the defence of people prosecuted under South Africa’s draconian apartheid laws. Her 50-year career as a political activist and member of the African National Congress resulted in her being sought by the government security services. Monica had to leave her family and go into hiding in order to flee the regime’s para-military ‘death squads’.
In the 1990s, she was granted political asylum in the UK, where she worked as a commercial lawyer until her psychotherapist husband suffered a major stroke.
Monica gave up her career in order to care for him on a full-time basis. This in turn led her to become a vocal and forceful advocate for the rights of carers and of patients themselves, as well as black and ethnic minorities in the UK.
At the beginning of this Century, following her husband’s death, she was recruited as an Associate Director in the NHS Chief Medical Officer’s Team dedicated to improvements in the quality of care and in the full and active involvement of patients and carers as ‘partners in their own care’.
Following her retirement from the NHS, her ongoing concern for the plight of young people in South Africa led her, in 2013, to found there a Charity ‘I Protect Me’ (IPM) dedicated to empowering young people with the confidence and the personal skills to defend themselves and their peers from exploitation and abuse.
IPM, of which she remains the Honorary President, has grown into a Pan-African organisation that recruits and supports unemployed trainers to teach prevention of abuse as a life skill in schools, reaching thousands of young people to resist abuse and to change mindsets and cultural inertia to abuse.
Monica continues to be an energetic and persuasive advocate on behalf of the disadvantaged and the oppressed—whether of this or of earlier times.
This book tells the story of one of her Khoikhoen ancestors, whose story has for too long been distorted by a corrupt and partial historical record that abuses her memory, just as her captors abused her in her tragically short life. It is homage to a remarkable woman—Saartjie Baartman.
Monica lives in London, UK, with her husband, Hedley Bennett “The wind beneath my sails,” as Monica says.
Hottentot Venus – The Story of Saartjie Baartman
Step into the captivating life of Saartjie Baartman, an ordinary and curious 18-year-old whose dreams led her from the familiar shores of Cape Town to the distant lands of England and Paris. Little did she know that her voyage would take a tragic turn, transforming her life into a harrowing tale of ...