FROM TABORA WITH LOVE: Making a child is easy, being a father isn’t

Dear aunt Sophia

Greetings from this very confused city.

I hope that by the grace of Limatunda you and your family, and indeed all the folks in my beloved Ukumbisiganga are doing fine.

I hope that the ancestors led by Chief Mirambo himself have been watching over all of you, because here in the city the ancestors have been watching us.

I was happy to hear that you have yet become a grandmother after your daughter Laila delivered another baby boy safely.

That was some very good news my dear aunt, because I know Liwelelo has the future of all the children in his hands.

My main concern, and I hope I will not appear too nosy, is that the last time I heard I was told that before she became pregnant with this new child, Laila already had six children, so that means the new baby makes the number of children seven.

And the last time I also heard that her husband, Mustapha, apart from being jobless, is also known for drinking cheap alcohol and becoming a nuisance in the village.

My dear aunt, you and I know that a child belongs to the community, therefore do not take it unkindly when someone is concerned about the welfare of your child.

In Africa, we consider children as a gift from Limatunda, but then the same Limatunda has given us the ability to think things over and make wise decisions.

It is my humble opinion that as her mother, you should consider sitting her down and convince her to think about having another child, because in the long run the children might be the ones who end up suffering.

Your other daughter, Shariffa, has always impressed me, because despite the fact that they are well off financially, she has spaced her children wisely.

When you and I were growing up, you knew very well that a Nyamwezi woman’s status was enhanced by the number of children she bears; thus it was not unusual for a Nyamwezi family to have seven or eight children.

The concept of planning when to have or not to have children had little cultural relevance for us the Nyamwezi.

But times have changed my dear aunt, gone are the days when the community could take care of your child when things are tough, the world now embraces the concept of everyone for him or herself.

My dear aunt, I believe you know that longer birth intervals are healthier for mothers and their children, enabling parents to devote more of their time to each child in the early years, give parents more time for activities other than child-rearing, and often ease pressure on family finances.

Anyway, we should pray to Liwelelo and the ancestors to take good care of the children, and you should be tough on your son in law to start behaving like a man.

My dear aunt, one doesn’t need to be addicted to alcohol for children and family relationships to be affected by drinking.

If a family member misuses alcohol, this can disrupt family life through arguments, tension and fear. It’s difficult to live with someone when their drinking causes problems at home.

You should tell that boy that while under the influence of alcohol, he may not understand the impact his behaviour has on his children.

My dear aunt, I am concerned because I know that alcohol misuse poses a major threat to the wellbeing of families. If a father drinks excessively, all members of the family are affected.

Anyway, I hope that Limatunda will hear our prayers and work on that boy, because if he is not careful he will lose his family.

Here in the city things are not bad my dear aunt, just the weather which is as confusing as the inhabitants of this big city.

In the afternoon the sun can come out as if it is on a mission to make your life a misery, and then without any notice the rain can come pounding mercilessly.

We are used to this kind of weather my dear aunt, so it should not concern you much. My wife and Milambo send their warm greetings.

The baby continues to grow in leaps and bounds, and my wife continues to stick to it like a protective bird hovering over her chick, and I wonder what will happen because just the other day Milambo told me that he is considering coming back to Tabora.

I understand the boy, he has his life to live, and although I am always happy when he is around, it will be selfish of me to try to stop him from living his life and taking care of his family.

If it were my son Yassin, he would be the happiest man this side of the Sahara, because the boy does not like to work, therefore if you allow him to stay without lifting a finger, he will take the opportunity very fast.

Milambo on the other hand is a very hard working boy, and I watch every day how restless he usually is because he misses working on his farm and his other small projects to support his family.

I have not told my wife that the boy is requesting to leave, because chances are, she might consider going with them so that she can be near the child.

Anyway, say hallo to my people in Ukumbisiganga, and tell uncle Bakari that I am planning to come over in March if Liwelelo wishes, so he should be ready to receive me.

I understand your trip to Europe is growing nearer, so I hope you have your necessary things in order, because I understand that for one to take such a trip, you are required to have something called a passport.

You will need this because you are also supposed to have something called a ‘visa’, which will allow you to enter that country, but you cannot have the visa if you don’t have a passport.

I am sure your son has taken you through all these things my dear aunt, so I know you will be okay. Say hallo to everyone.



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