Zimbabwean academic 'humbled' by New York statue

A Zimbabwean-born academic who taught herself to read from her brother's schoolbooks says she was shocked to learn that a life-size statue of her would be unveiled in the US.

"I'm just so humbled - it is unbelievable," Tererai Trent told BBC Focus on Africa. "Can you believe I am standing so tall in New York City?"

"We know that 3% of statues in the city are female," Ms Trent said. "My great-grand-mother, my grandmother, my mother - ha! - they would never have dreamt of something like this."

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey, actress Nicole Kidman, Olympian Gabby Douglas and author Cheryl Strayed are among the prominent women immortalised in bronze alongside Ms Trent outside New York's Rockefeller Centre.

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They were chosen as part of the Statues For Equality project by sculptors Gillie and Marc Schattner. 

The husband-and-wife duo says the installations of inspirational women are an attempt to balance gender representation in public art.

But Ms Trent's focus is on collective progress rather than individual triumph. 

"There were so many things that shaped the denial of education for young women like me - poverty being one of them, and the colonial system that never valued education," she said.

'I was fired up'

Growing up in rural Rhodesia - as Zimbabwe was then called - she noticed a key divide from early on.

"In the whole village, only men could read and count, and the majority of women could not. And yet some of these were brilliant women," Ms Trent told the BBC.

Her grandmother, in particular, was a talented midwife.

"I always say that if she had had an education maybe she would have become one of the best gynaecologists in my community, if not the whole world."

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