Sunday, May 8, 2011
A Salute to the African Mother
All around the world motherhood is celebrated by young and old. This annual event has taken ground in many parts of the world and the history and tradition underscore our common concern for the parents who brought us to this world and the unique characteristics that most cultures share when it comes to loving and honoring one’s mother.
In joining countless millions in celebrating mother’s day, I have reflected deeply on the event and the circumstances that determine who my mother was and how come she was a leading force and light in my life. Prophets, poets and all thinking men and women have thought about these matters. From the religious scriptures we learn about the role and place of mothers in the society. As the Bible states, “Honor thy mother and thy father.”
These words are almost memorized by many children as they learn to become parts and parcels of their respective communities. They are in many ways reminded about their mothers and the place they play in societies. Mothers are the first receiving ground for newcomers entering this world. No human can ever deny the fact that he or she spent at least nine months in his or her mother’s womb. Different African societies in history develop numerous stories that celebrate motherhood. For example, the Zulus of South Africa call their mother “the Big House.” This noble title emphasizes the great biological, social and spiritual role of the mother in welcoming her children to the world through her strong love for their father and her inseparable links to her family. The Igbos calls her Nneka (Mother is Supreme), the Wolofs calls The Big House, while the Zulus in South Africa see the mother as the great bridge that defines the children’s humanity. In addition to this, the mother is an important part to the linkage between her family and the family of her husband. Being this valuable glue that unites both biologically and sociologically the destiny of her newly created family through marriage, the mother therefore is source of your name and the watering ground of your seeds.
Motherhood in the Old and New Africa are united and separated by history and changing times. In the past, the child may enjoy the fruits of her mother’s love and care within a monogamous arrangement. Alternatively, motherhood is enjoyed and celebrated within the oasis of polygamy in a desert where divorce is most widely feared and the separation between dad and mum becomes a heavy weight on the child’s neck.
The joy of having and living with an attentive mother in the Old Africa added a lot to our home training and to the cultivation of social skills to navigate the dangerous waters of life. These aspects of our traditional experiences with motherhood are widely discussed and celebrated throughout Africa.. It is a joyous moment of song and praise under the baobab tree. This tree has served us well in the expression of personal and public feelings in the Old Africa. Celebrating Mother’s Day is as American as Apple Pie to most Americans. This practice, as I stated above, has also entered the Nigerian and African worlds. Our mothers led us on the path of duty and service to God and country. As I think and reflect about my mother, I too can say like the Zulus that she was a “big house.” And like the modern Igbo, I also see my mother as “NNEKA,” Mother Is Supreme
Marriage is still alive and being a good mother who deserves and commands respect from her children has much water to keep like a plant flourishing. Long live motherhood and forever we celebrate Mother’s Day whenever we live.
This poem is for you dearest sweet mother
African Mother is unique.
She is full of Strength
The Pillar of her family
The African mother is dependable and dedicated
The African Mother feels strong in her own skin, is proud of her identity, and accepts who she is
She is the transmitter of tradition from generation to generation
She is venerably strong; she accepts all things, endures all things and carries on even when faces with spousal abuse, neglect, war, disease or poverty.. An Africa mother puts her family first in all she does. She is the protector of tradition, the family unifier, and the voice of the family, does not speak aloud in public but works and moves mountains behind the scene. Your is strength is in your willingness to change, your ability to survive when there is hardship
The African mother does not demand respect, it’s hers, she does not ask for equality, because power belongs to her. She has the last word as how her family is run. I thank you so much dear African mother for such uplifting and generous nature that has been the hallmark of your personality.
Although you posses all these outstanding qualities, we must shade light on our common enemy, poverty and war that inflicts unbearable pain on you and your children. I know you have issues about your health, your productive capabilities, education and your rights to participate in higher level of power brokers, still you are the one without whom there will be no society.
I therefore salute you dear African mother, I am energized by your positive motherhood by doing the right thing in a practical way.
Happy Mother’s Day
Eucharia Mbachu is the Founder and President of Voices of Women and Children in Africa and Diaspora
You can contact her through her website www .vowac, org
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