SUNDAY, 14th May was Mother’s Day, celebrated in over 40 countries in the world. The day is rather low key here in Tanzania although it is well observed in neighbouring Kenya, with mothers getting showered with flowers and gifts. In the Kenyan weekend newspapers, we find at least three articles related to Mother’s day.
But before we savour these, let us get some history about Mothers’ Day. Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to many cultures. The ancient Greeks and Romans for example, held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.
However, the modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday”, whose celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church”—the main church in the vicinity of their home— for a special service.
With the wane of religious observation in Europe, the day became secularized and children would present their mothers with flowers and tokens of appreciation. Observation of this custom waned but re-emerged within the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.
The official Mother’s Day holiday in the United States arose in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Following her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children.
Although she herself never got married, or had children, she campaigned far and wide to have a Mother’s Day and her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Anna Jarvis soon became disillusioned with the way Mother’s day was commercialized, so that by the time of her death in 1948 she had disowned the holiday altogether, and even actively lobbied the government to see it removed from the American calendar.
The day was not removed from the calendar. The Saturday Nation (March, 13, p. 16) carried this article titled: “Being a Mother is tough, that is why we should celebrate them in a big way”.
The guest Columnist shares Ana Jarvis views when the refers to all the hullabaloo made before Mother’s Day as: “amounting to nothing more than shop keepers working hard to shift old stock”.
While most people have high regard for their mothers, the Sunday Nation (March 13) carried a feature about a lady, one GM, who has recently been released from prison where she had been incarcerated for abandoning her new born daughter in a hole after giving birth five years ago hoping the girl would die.
The baby was attacked by a wild animal but was rescued by a herdsman and is now being looked after in Children’s Home.
GM is now back at her home in Bwagamoyo, Kilifi County (Note that there is more than one Bagamoyo along the East African Coast), and she is quoted as saying: ‘I want my Baby back in my arms”.
If and when GM is reunited with her baby, and receiving her in her arms, she will realize that the baby has only one arm. The other had to be amputated after she was attacked by a wild animal.
How would you take your mum if she had left you for dead? This happens in the case of some women and we have to heed the Nation editor’s observation: “As we celebrate gallant women in our lives on Mother’s Day we also remember others like GM, who for various reasons abandoned their children – but now regret”.
Finally we look at this article titled: “Time to truly touch the lives of Others” (Sunday Nation, May 7), where in anticipation of Mother’s Day, the writer reflects upon her departed Mom and realizes that Mom had a special love for shoes.
Shoes were “her thing”. She kept on buying them but: “at some point she ‘begun’ to give them away”. “Begun?” No. “Began”.
The writer goes on: “As we approach Mother’s Day, and I think of the legacy that a woman leaves in the world for ‘the children she gave birth’ and those she nurtured, I wonder.
What’s my thing?” Only that the writer was referring to children a woman “gave birth to”, not “the children she gave birth”, unless we are thinking in Swahili: “Watoto aliowazaa”.
Happy belated Mother’s Day to all Moms, moms-to-be, and all those who love to have children but are unable to do so!