MOTHER’S DAY THE AFRICAN WAY

May 2016

Presented by Grace Wandia; Director Kenya Program~

As we celebrate Mother’s Day on the 8th of May, we celebrate a woman who has been exploited over the years because of her gender. We celebrate a woman who has labored and toiled for her family for generations; this woman has known little peace and happiness.

This woman has had little access to an education or none at all during the course of her life. She has had very limited access to medical care. She experiences domestic violence on a regular basis.

This woman’s hands are old and battered; her hands have tilled the land and produced food for her family, washed the family clothes, and pounded the millet for porridge.

This woman’s legs are tough and hard from years of walking bare foot and having trod over stones and rocks fending for her family.

This woman delivered her children in a mud and wattle hut, assisted by a local midwife because she cannot afford maternal care or because there is none.

The prevalence of HIV and Aids, lack of family planning, and unskilled birth attendants contribute to a high mortality rate, yet this woman gives birth over and over again because that is what culture demands of her.

This woman prays for her children, especially the girl-child.

In the African culture, the birth of a daughter brings mixed feelings and anxiety. Doubts abound in the mother’s mind as she wonders almost daily whether her daughter will weather the tumultuous storms that life will inevitable bring her, mostly as the result of her gender.

Generally speaking, the African mother is far stricter on their daughters than their sons. There is so much conflicting information on how to raise a girl-child that is has become a nightmare for most parents to determine what ‘a good girl’ should be like and how she is to look.
It is the responsibility of the mother to ensure that the girl-child fits the standards that society sets for her daughters. When the girl behaves well and is admired in the society, then she belongs to the father. When the opposite is true, she belongs to the mother.

The girl-child, due to her feminine stature in and of itself, is excessively vulnerable to her environment making it a daunting task for the mother to raise the girl-child up well. It is, therefore, very important that these girls are guided as they try to learn and understand how to cope with the changes in their lives- social, emotional and physical. The girls need appropriate role models in a culture where many of the social mores regarding gender have been twisted into chains of cruelty and injustice.

The winds of time are, however, changing. The basic strength and truth of a woman’s intuition are being better heeded by the women themselves. As a result, the men are beginning to listen. There is a feel of change in the air….

As we celebrate Mother’s Day in Africa, we celebrate a woman of undeletable strength, one who daily shoulders the storms and great hardships of life come what may. We celebrate a woman who exists as the rock upon which the family stands and upon which the community as a whole, therefore, both exists and thrives.

We celebrate our African mothers!

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