Round Table with Oscar
May 9, 2017

More power to our mothers

The road leading from girl child to becoming a mother is a treacherous one, and actually, being a mother is doubly perilous.

We know only half of what the life of a mother is really like, and on Mother’s Day, we love and appreciate only half of the women who locked their loins with ours, who journeyed the months with our growing seed, who pin their stars under the ceilings that we nail down on their dreams and who die with only half of their fullness unfolded, when we turn to you as partners, spouses, offspring and community, on Mothers’ Day to shower with our love and our thanks, please be so kind as to embrace our intentions, forgive our shortcomings and help us to get out of the way of your fullness.

Even the ideology of our imaginations tends to rob women of their sovereign right to initiative and cause. Consider what we interpret in the biblical record of beginnings. In one scene, woman is an afterthought, to fill a gap, meet a shortage in the male structure, instead of perhaps advancing the revolutionary complexity of humankind. Do we not accept that it is the male who breaks away from the family circle and reaches out to access a woman and bond with her-his wife. He is the one who moves, she is the one who is at hand to be acted upon. Does it not seem that when the woman agrees to take an initiative, to eat the fruit that was set aside, that things fall apart. The implicit idea and the explicit mental programme in the stories of origins is for the woman to be an object, disempowered, merely a half factor in the equation of history.

Sticking with the biblical revelation, very often, when a woman is seen to take an initiative, it is the start of new, even revolutionary developments. The strategic, civil disobedience of the mother and sister of Moses in hiding the baby down by the riverside, had a revolutionary outcome for an enslaved people.

No different from Jochebad and Miriam, the mother of Jesus, a working-class woman appears in Luke to take up a philosophical stance, storing, pondering and theorizing things to guide her conduct. She proclaims a manifest of God’s liberation in Luke1:38 and following in Luke_2:19 and 51, she is investigating what her son calls “My Father’s Business”. Another Mary, sister to Martha, according to Luke 10:38, sits in at a tutorial teaching that Jesus held in Bethany. ‘That is the right thing for her to do,’ Jesus said to the big sister, Martha. Such women as these were breaking the woman mould, weighing up options, discovering knowledge, building moral and spiritual power and faith as a factor in history. Women and mothers stare at us in these examples from a different ideology, a liberated imagination, empowering the human female with deeper purposes in God’s emancipation of a sin structured humankind.


Mothers’ Day reflection places two simplified ideologies of mother on the canvas in front of me. Call one “Mama Sex”, and call the other “Mama Sovereign.”

Mama Sex is all over the place, beautiful, seductive, in many styles and fashion, shackled to the nurture of children, shacking in loving and in some places brutal relation, desiring the pleasant things of life, roaming in diverse playgrounds, submitting under and subduing male dominion in personal spaces. Mama Sex is the girl-woman whose body and endocrines become commodities decorated by commodities, demanded by penises, committed to children and home as personal prizes. A recycled species. On the “Mama Sovereign” canvas, I see in the background an emperor and his cabinet of ministers addressing a military parade. Three persons are in the centre of the canvas: a baby, a girl and an adult woman. They look confidently into the future, straight into my eyes. There is something unpredictable about the way the threesome command the space on the canvas. They look more assured than the emperor and his troops. I think they are sending their own Mothers’ Day message to us.