The month of May – Mama, Mother, Mummy, Mum
While every day is indeed a day to honour our mothers (as in Betty Murungi’s tweet above), on Mothers’ Day, we do it collectively, and perhaps more formally, in the various ways and days that this day is observed across today’s world. And for different people for different reasons, it’s a time to celebrate and toast, just as it is to commemorate… and to mourn.
In this 2013 season of Mothers’ Day, let’s remember mothers and motherhood in the broadest sense, and not limit ourselves to the biological function. A toast then to our mothers, and to our mothers’ mothers, and to all the mothers that have gone before them.
But extra-special toasts….:
- To Mother Earth, who in the month of May in the temperate world casts off her drab winter cloak as she springs back to to life, and decks herself with gay irredescent colours and fresh, new, nurturing growth.
- To Africa, the Mother Continent and all her mother–daughters near and far.
- To Wangari Muta Maathai, who devoted her life to re-robing Mother Earth in her rightful forest-green and emeralds, and what one group – Mothers in Action – meant for her at what was one of the lowest and most trying moments in her mission-driven life: “[It] warmed my heart and helped me realise that no matter what happened to me, there were people who cared, who wished me well, and who understood what it meant to be a woman fighting for the future of her country.” (Autobiography: Unbowed: One woman’s story)
- To Kenyan freedom fighters:
- To the mothers of Moi’s political prisoners – the elderly mothers who stripped in protest over police brutality and an uncaring regime that persecuted their children.
- To Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela, who, when she and Nelson Mandela visited Kenya in July 1990, was approached by the wives and families of the political prisoners above, and at Kasarani Stadium made a public and direct appeal to Daniel Moi to release political prisoners. Winnie courageously spoke truth to power, speaking, as she said, as a woman whose husband was held behind bars for 27 years, and speaking, in her words “on behalf of the women who waited.” (Autobiography – Part of my soul went with him)
- To Miriam Makeba, who refused to curl up and be vanquished when racist South Africa exiled her and declared her a ‘non-person’ stripping her of her passport while she was travelling outside South Africa. Miriam refused to be beaten: instead, she turned her forced exile into a highly visible and vocal platform to expose the sickness and brutality of apartheid. (Autobiography – Makeba: My story)
- To Mariama Bâ, Senegalese educationist, feminist and author, who left us with the gift of her poignant writing in Une si longue lettre (So long a letter) and Un chant écarlate (Scarlet song)
(An aside: interesting how many Ms feature above for Mamas’ Day, and that an M flipped upside-down beomes a W for woman. There’s at least one more M that belongs in the list above, for yet another Miriam in that illustrious list, besides Makeba…)
Like almost all things in life, motherhood too is a dichotomy and has both joys and pains. I reflected on some of these pains in my Mothers’ Day piece last year – The dark side of motherhood.
The harsh reality of slavery and racism in Mauritania have not changed an iota since: if anything, Mauritania has since been elevated to a lofty seat in the UN Human Rights Council last month on Human Rights Day 2013.