Praise be unto mums, sure, but spare thought for ‘bibis’


THE reason why Christian Bella’s ‘Nani Kama Mama’ is a very popular song need not be belaboured. It is as plain as dusk precedes dawn. During an evening chitchat amongst a club of friends at a recreation centre once, one of the members nearly tore our ribs with laughter, by a brief explanation on which challenge he would find most taxing if he had been created a woman.

In his typical humourous element, he responded in a meandering manner, rather than being straightforward. He said he wouldn’t mind feeding the baby with whom God would have blessed him, alongside whoever would have been the “co-producer”. Similarly, he would derive tremendous joy from washing the little angel’s soiled nappies. He then dropped a veritable bombshell, but which, upon reflection, resonated with the rest of us.

It was along these lines: “Boys, the pangs of nursing a pregnancy for nine months and subsequently delivering what would truly be a sweet creature, but through a process I am cock-sure is the extreme opposite of sweetness, is something I would dread most !” Mums are thus most beloved, primarily due to the enormous physical and emotional challenges they endure as, bit by bit, creatures shape up within them for nearly one year.

And thereafter, fending for them tenderly, in some cases solo, as their partners either cowardly chicken out by shamelessly denying the link, or decline to provide financial. material and psychological support. Exceptions are the relatively few, heartless ones who dump babies upon delivery, some probably due to overwhelming psychological or psychiatrist forces. So , well, whereas the message in Christian Bella’s song is obvious, it is an icing on the cake; a sweetener, which one would love to hear over and over again, probably endlessly.

How nice and indeed fair, it would be, though, if Bella, or one or more of his musical cousins, would compose a song anchored on saluting grandmothers, who started off as mothers ! That wish – and how I wish it isn’t mere wishful thinking – has been inspired by the recent event in Arusha, organized by Canada’s Stephen Lewis Foundation. Its focus was grandmothers, in which 200 of them participated. It was the first to be hosted in Tanzania, Uganda having hosted the first one.

The vaccine and cureelusive HIV/Aids was the trigger of the initiative, against the backdrop of 60 per cent of the 17 million children orphaned by the pandemic worldwide are in the Sub-Saharan region. Whereas much sympathy and sadness is focused on the agony of the patients and the deaths of those who lose the battles, relatively little attention is given to what may be characterized as ‘the grandmothers’ dimension’ .

The Stephen Lewis Foundation thus deserves accolades for publicizing the immensely significant, but not adequately appreciated role of the old women we fondly address as ‘bibi’ and to which the broader public’s mindset should be revolutionized. The standard practice is for largely urban-based relatives to shift the burden of caring for Aids-generated orphans to largely village-centred grandmothers.

The tendency is apparently a by-product of the deep compassion that ‘bibis’ have towards their grandchildren; a fact to which most, if not all people can attest. It’s a herculean challenge, though, as some of the ‘bibis’ , quite many of whom are widowed, fend for up to ten children.

The scenario is moreover broader, as the elderly are manipulated as a soft spot upon whom children created by other social and economic situations are off-loaded. Producing babies as outcomes of relationships with socially wretched young men who subsequently dump mothers and children, is one of the of the crises that befall quite many young girls who pursue livelihoods in urban centres.

When the going gets pretty rough, it is upon grandmothers that some of them shift the burden of caring for the innocent little angels. Relatively few empower the ‘bibis’ through reasonable financial support. The grand mums also fend for quite many grandchildren thrust upon them by hopeless urban-based young male livelihood seekers. It boggles the mind, though, why it is presumed that the elderly, physically weak and mostly sickly women should be presumed to be capable of coping with the challenge. Given their compassion, however, they devote part of the pocket money remitted by considerate children and grandchildren to caring for the ‘wajukuu’.

Fairness dictates, therefore, that, grandmothers (Nani Kama Bibi) should be saluted alongside mums (Nani Kama Mama). IN PASSING Quit racist sentiments ! During a recent radio station briefing on upcoming sporting events, the presenter made reference to an Egyptian team and then, for presumed emphasis, he said “waarabu hawa”. It has racist overtones, but I stand to be corrected if I am wrong!

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