‘When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it’s a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.’ – humourist Erma Bombeck. That sums up my mum.
She was a little girl who had to leave her home in the middle of the night and spent most of her life exiled from South Africa. This little girl became the woman who did not stop believing she would return home even when she was ridiculed for it. In the end it is she who made it possible to journey back there to find her family.
Growing up in a patriarchal society she was the first to show me through her actions that being an African woman comes with innate strength. She always fought for our rights and protected us from shameful practices such as virginity testing or being excluded from partaking in something simply for being a woman. She defied the unwritten rule in our society at the time of women not being allowed to wear trousers. And as a devout catholic she challenged the church when they refused her holy communion because she was divorced. She was resourceful and despite her tiny salary built a home for my grandmother.
She developed my love of travel, music and dancing as my childhood home was a hub of family parties. She was strict but had a big heart when she helped take care of the children of others. My three sisters and I get all our kookiness from her.
It is good to celebrate these things when our parents are alive.
She has reinvented herself so many times already and I know there is still more in her. She also drives me mad sometimes but that’s a mum’s privilege so happy birthday to my mummy!
Written November 23, 2012 at 12:06pm