Friday, January 9, 2009

Feminism and Motherhood

Being a mother has its perks. My daughter reminds me everyday that motherhood is a school of learning where graduation day is everyday because everyday is a test of love, compassion, fortitude and laughter. If you pass the four, you can graduate to the next day.
In Uganda however, some misguided, misinformed and miserable people, some of them witchdoctors, traditionalists, businessmen and even parents deliberately choose to fail the parenting test.

Child sacrifice is not new. In Uganda, thanks to some courageous individuals, it is being exposed in the media quite often. One story irks me every time I recall it. Mugombe is a nine year old boy who at his age should ideally be discovering his gifts at school, playing with his peers, playing the occasional prank and having no real reason to distrust adults. One afternoon in December 2008, when most of his age mates were going home from school, Mugombe was on his way to a shrine. What could have been his last day to alive on this earth. A neighbour and friend to Mugombe’s mother picked the unsuspecting child from school and led him to a shrine on the outskirts of Kampala.

He says. “They undressed me inside a shrine and smeared me with some things (herbs) But when the witchdoctor realized that I was circumcised, he said I was unfit for sacrifice.”

Rightly so. The boy was unfit for sacrifice because he deserves a full chance to live and succeed in life like everyone else.

Another father of twins late in 2008, beheaded both of them to win a mere few millions of Uganda shillings. He managed to behead them and ended up in jail. Miserable, misinformed and misguided.

Feminism is a hunger for truth and women and men feminists are hungry for truth, for justice and passionate about equality and human rights. Motherhood makes me passionate and hungry for the good health and excellent future for my daughter and I will stop at nothing to make sure she gets just that. As long as there is no underhandedness or manipulation, I will search and seek for all that goodness can bring to my daughter.

A feminist should seek and probe and search for truth so that human madness and injustice is redressed to make life a better place to live in.

A story of a Zimbabwean feminist who held onto her son as the clutches of a crocodile threatened to plunge him to a murky death is a story of a feminist who cared enough to let go to what she loved. Her son survived and the scars on his body are the scars of his mother’s nails as she dug into him to save him. Feminists will leave scars but only because they are holding on to what they cherish and believe to be right. Through mistakes of course, and challenges, a feminist, like a mother, rejoices at seeing her/his baby grow through infancy to adulthood.

Another female feminist that encourages me to move forward is Mukhtar Mai, the author of In the name of Honour (A memoir). I would like to share a review of her book.

Mukhtar Mai has the fortitude of a lioness. This memoir is a struggle of a real woman with real problems that came to the surface after the worst humiliation any woman from her clan in Pakistan could receive. Instead of giving up in a suicidal act, she rose up from the ruins. Mukhtar is a Pakistani woman from a lower caste in Southern Punjabi called Gujar. Her brother, Shakur, is wrongfully accused of rape of one girl belonging to a richer caste, Mastoi. In form of justice, as is usually done, the Mastoi rape a woman, usually a sister to the accused in order to clear his name. The unfortunate woman chosen is Mukhtar Mai, sister to the accused. Her punishment: Brutal rape by 4 members of the mastoid clan in front of the community. Most women after this ordeal, commit suicide, because the shame is too much to bear. For Mukhtar, it was different. In her search for justice, her biggest handicap is her illiteracy because girls and women are not permitted to formal education. However, her resilience and steed work in her favour. As a result, Mukhtar has become the voice of the voiceless in Pakistan and the region beyond. Through the quest for justice, she has gained international support and has managed to establish a small school in Southern Punjab for young girls.

As feminists, leaving a positive path for those behind us to follow is one of the most important legacies we can leave behind.

1 comment:

Sofia said...

nice one Bev, having a daughter does make you see life differently.