Biography of Fatmatta R. Kanu

Fatmatta R. Kanu (nee Bangurah) was born and raised in Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa in 1941. After completing her teacher training in Freetown, she spent 15 years studying and working in Canada, England, Germany and Brussels with her husband, Dr. Sheka Hassan Kanu, while he was first a student at the University of Alberta, Canada and then a diplomat in the ensuing years. During those years, Fatmatta completed her Bachelor of Arts with a major in History and a minor in Education from the University of Maryland and her Masters in International Relations from Boston University. She completed these studies while supporting her husband in diplomatic service and raising their eight kids. She returned with her family to Sierra Leone in the early 1980s.

Fatmatta has worked as a teacher in Sierra Leone, and as a library clerk at libraries in the University of Edmonton, Alberta. She was also an acquisitions agent and researcher for the Library of Congress in Sierra Leone. As a researcher, she produced reports on topics such as Maternal and Infant Mortality Rates for UNICEF, Sierra Leone, and on AIDS for the University of South Carolina. Fatmatta was also a city councillor in Freetown, Sierra Leone for four years. She held portfolios for municipal trade, information and foreign city relations. She returned to Canada in 1999 where she worked as a cross-cultural facilitator for immigrants in Vancouver, British Columbia.

She has authored four autobiographical accounts spanning her life growing up in Sierra Leone (Through the Calabash), student/ immigration experiences in Alberta (Taste of the Kola Nut), the multinational experiences of being in diplomatic service afterwards (Rock Behind the Waterfall) and finally the journey back to Sierra Leone that ended with unexpected twists which ricocheted her back to Canada some 30 years later (Shade of the Baobab Tree).

Fatmatta is now retired and widowed. Her permanent residence is in Mississauga, Ontario and she travels across Canada, the United States and regularly back to Freetown, Sierra Leone to spend time with her children and more than a dozen grandchildren and attend to family business. In retirement, Fatmatta is active in the literary community in Mississauga and in addition to her books has contributed to a number of anthologies.
What is amazing about all these accomplishments is that Fatmatta grew up in an era when girls, especially those of her ethnicity, did not go to school; travelled to Canada in an era when contact with the western world for Africans was minimal; and was in diplomatic service in a time when expectations for the role of a diplomat`s wife were very fixed. Fatmatta broke every barrier and defied every stereotype. Her books are filled with relevant issues of culture, identity, gender, Canadian immigration and multinational experiences and commentary. They can be found on Amazon.