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The H3O/Art of Life Blog

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Happy Mothers Day

Updated: May 28, 2020

By Dr. Gloria Latimore-Peace

Exodus 20:12 Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee.

In contrast to the Western practice wherein "motherhood" is restricted to females who give birth, African kinship groups do not limit the motherhood concept to either biology or gender. This is undoubtedly because of the understanding that the purpose and function of a mother is to nurture the children. Therefore, according to ancient African traditions, the siblings of the biological mother, both male and female, are also regarded -and treated- as mothers whether or not they are female, male, or biological parents themselves. This applies also to Grands, Great-grands, Great-great grands, etc., ad infinitum.

According to Ancestor Prof. Elkin T. Sithole of the Zulu kinship group of South Africa, female mothers are called Mama(s) while male mothers are referred to as"Malume". Each "Malume" serves the same function vis a vis the children of their sisters as do the Mamas while simultaneously serving as father, Baba, to their biological children. They also function as Babas, fathers, of the children of their brothers. In addition, the relationships of their contemporaries  (or members of their "age- grade") to the children follow the same principle. They are regarded--and treated-- the same as the brothers and sisters who are joined by ties of blood. These "social" brothers and sisters are also seen as  mothers and fathers of the children. Hence, all of the children belong to all of the adults in the community and all of them have a duty to care for all of the children.

The African family must be defined by what it is rather than what it is not - an extended family. Neither is the African family a "nuclear" family, i.e., a kinship group composed of one or (preferably) two parents and their children who occupy a single residence. It can readily be seen that an African family is not now nor has it ever been a "nuclear" family. And, to call an African kinship group an "extended" family certainly misses the mark precisely because everyone is already included in the family. The African family is what it is, the first--and best-real family model ever to exist on planet Earth. The African edict that "It takes a Village to raise a child" was not, nor was it intended to be, a book title or a slogan. It is an ages-old value inherent in the African worldview, one which is inextricably woven into the fabric of the African way of life. Therefore, let us honor our fathers and our mothers and the rest will be our story. Happy Mothers Day.

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12. Mai 2020

This is a beautiful article Queen Mother. Many family members stepped into the "mother" role as I was growing up and some of them were men. In my house my husband and I step into whatever roles are needed to care for our children. We all must do whatever we can to take care of the legacies, which are our children. We can't limit what we can do for our families based on our genders. The ancestors are wise.

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