In a couple of days, many different countries around the world will be honouring mothers in wonderful ways. The 14th of May is a day that I am so glad sits on the international calendar because to be a mother is no small feat. In fact, it is such a special task that even though Jesus Christ did not have an earthly biological father He certainly had an earthly biological mother in Mary (Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-7). She was instrumental in helping to shape Him into the one-of-a-kind Man that He is.
I myself was raised and cared for by a phenomenal woman who recently celebrated a birthday. In recent years, I’ve been able to see all that she has done for me, my siblings and many other young people around her. And so today, I would like to take a moment to specifically appreciate her and my black African mamas for who they are and all they have done for us. These are the reasons that make the black African mother a gift:
- More often than not, she has sacrificed her personal and career dreams for the benefit and growth of her husband’s career and their family. My own Mum was a successful Town Planner but she chose to say goodbye to her career at the age of 31 years so that our family could relocate to a different country because of my Dad’s new job and his career advancement. I have never once heard her complain about this sacrifice she had to make, and in fact she speaks with such joy about how she was happy to be there for us. Mothers make a sacrifice look like a gain.
- She always has a way of making it look like she never gets ill, and is always ready to help you out no matter how she is feeling. I don’t ever really remember my Mum complaining about feeling ill. But I remember many times when I wasn’t well and she’d nurse me back to full health like I was her only care in the world. Mothers are the most uncelebrated super heroes in this world.
- Regardless of the terrible circumstances she has faced in her past or present, she carries herself with such grace and dignity. Most of our mothers grew up in the times of apartheid and similar ideological movements, facing a lot of discrimination, abuse and rejection. They may even face discrimination in their workplaces today. Yet, looking at how they dress and present themselves, or how they address those around them, you could swear they never went through any of that. Black African mothers are the strongest people out there because they do not allow their negative experiences to define them.
- She has a way of celebrating every little achievement in your life from your first day at school; to making your first friend or; even getting the part of curtain-raiser at your school play! My sister likes to say this a lot, and I agree with her – my mother is our greatest cheerleader. She makes you feel like you have conquered Mount Kilimanjaro even if it’s just the fact that you went to the first day of work! Mothers have a way of making you feel like the winner you are but haven’t quite yet believed in.
- She is the only person who can reprimand you so badly about something you shouldn’t have done, yet make you feel like you’re deeply loved all at the same time. The black African mother has a way of sharing her disappointment in your behaviour while still allowing you to feel as though she still believes you are better than your mistake.
- She is the most forgiving human being on this planet. Our mothers have been hurt deeply by family, friends, strangers and everyone in-between. They are tested on a daily basis by their employers, their husbands and their children yet they pour out their love and concern for these individuals as though they had never slighted them. Black African mothers have the deepest hearts and the shortest memories I have come across to date.
- She throws it DOWN in the kitchen! I have not come across a mother from my parents’ generation (1960s/1970s and before) who does not have a minimum of like 5 special dishes that leave her guests licking their fingers. My own Mama has so many self-made recipes that I am still trying to get right. Cooking is second nature to her and her food always exudes the love she has for those she has prepared it for, even if she has just met them for the first time. Mothers are the best, yet most underpaid, chefs in the world.
- She is a mother to every young person she comes across regardless of whether she knows them or not. My mother knows (to an extent) what is going on in my friends’ lives and gives her advice/counsel to so many young people around her. She does it without even realizing it, and people always leave her feeling encouraged. Black African mothers recognize that being a mother is a full-time job and her child is anyone who needs guidance and support – whether or not she gave birth to them.
- She would die for you. I have seen how my mother carries my own burdens as though they were her own. She won’t sleep and she’ll try and see how she can best support or help you through your trial. If possible, she would take my place and go through the pain on my behalf. Thus, it is safe to say that a mother, given the choice, would give her own life that her child should live.
- Her hugs still bring such comfort no matter how old you get. I’m 31 years old now and when I’m feeling a little low I will still go put my head on my mother’s lap or ask her to give me a hug. When I’m in her arms my sorrows disappear, and I believe that all is well once again. Mothers have a way of enveloping you in their love by being nurturing.
These are just a few of the many reasons why I have deep respect and love for black African mothers. I would love to hear what you appreciate about your black African mother or one that you know. Let’s give back to them in whatever small way we can, the love they have selflessly poured into us over the years.