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Man republic: Intrigues of the African women who raised us




African mothers’ punishments were quick and on the spot (Shutterstock)

Being brought up by an African mother was probably one of the best things that could happen to anyone. What I considered punishment during that ordeal of growing up has turned out to be invaluable lessons. Let’s sample a few:

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African mothers’ punishments were quick and on the spot. There was a day we went out to play on the ‘mwisuvo’, a simple game where a banana trunk was cut into two pieces then a stick was inserted in it to create a toy vehicle.

This was then taken uphill and the player would slide on it downhill while ululating at the top of his voice. I can see those who played this game quietly nodding in agreement.

Now the best time for this game was after heavy rainfall which made for a soft, wet and slippery path, perfect for sliding.

So on the fateful day, we played on and on until my school shorts, which were still new, had two headlamp-like holes on my backside. The punishment for this was that I had to wear the same shorts to school until the term ended. Talk of being the laughing stock at school.

The revered visitors utensils

Every proper African home had special cups and plates for visitors. African mothers respected visitors so much that using these utensils without permission would invite a thorough beating.

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The utensils had a special cupboard that was so well secured, it could only be opened on Christmas day or when important visitors came calling.

There was a day I was dispatched to my uncles for a week, probably for sensitivity training, after accidentally breaking a visitor’s cup.

Zero tolerance to love affairs

When I was in Class Seven and adolescence started making its way near my life, I got involved in a love affair with a Class Six girl whose main attraction was that she used to apply avocado oil on her hair so it was unusually black.

This girl also used to speak in Kiswahili because her parents had just moved back to the village from the city. Now, this ability to speak another language apart from her mother tongue put her above the other village lasses.

So she accepted the proposal to be my girlfriend and our youthful brains directed us to my mother to introduce ourselves.


Now, I have to admit that this was one of the most enervating decisions I ever took in my young life but my passion had overtaken my appeal to logic.

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My mother didn’t waste time, she beat the hell out of both of us and frog marched us back to school for more punishment that included an embarrassing presentation to the whole school at assembly.

I have never fallen in love since then.

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If you were raised by an African mother, you are one of the legends on earth. This was a special generation that devoted their time and energy to their families — they understood the value of proper upbringing of any child.

Sometimes I consider the liberality that has permeated our society and wonder what our African mothers would do.


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