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Mother’s Day fun eludes rural women

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Mothers and motherhood are respected in every country around the world.

That is more the reason most countries including Malawi dedicate a day when the importance of mothers is celebrated.

In the country, the day was established by the late president Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

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From its inception, the day was being celebrated on October 17 before former president Bakili Muluzi’s regime changed it to Monday of the second week of October.

However, the date was changed again to October 15 by the late Bingu wa Mutharika to coincide with International Day of Rural Women in 2008.

By changing the day to on October 15, Mutharika wanted to bring the plight of rural women into the limelight so that stakeholders can start discussing issues that rural women encounter in their everyday lives.

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Mutharika said October 15 presents a good opportunity for Malawians to remember the problems that women face every day, including their rights, domestic violence and other forms of victimisation by men.

But random interviews with some rural women and men in Mangochi have revealed that the hype that is associated with Mother’s Day does not reach to most rural women such that the day, in most cases, do come and pass unnoticed in some areas.

Some men have also seen the day’s relevance being eroded each passing day, making them conclude that the present generation does not value the importance of parents as was the case with children of some decades ago.

To 48-year-old Mariatu Arabi of Saiti Village, Traditional Authority Makanjira in Mangochi, the day to her passes like any other day. Though a mother of five, Arabi claims she does not receive anything special from her children.

“I have been hearing a lot about Mother’s Day on the radio but, to be honest, I do not experience anything special on this day. I have five children but none of them provides me with any gift or do anything special to me as a mother,” said Arabi in an interview outside Mangochi District Hospital in which her daughter had just delivered twins.

Despite not receiving anything from her children, Arabi thinks the day is very important to mothers as well as the country.

She recalls that when she was young, she used to visit her mother and do household chores for her parents because by that time, she thought it was mandatory for every child to do something for his or her parents.

Arabi’s daughter, Esnart Yusufu, thinks that Mother’s Day is a day in which rich people honour their mothers. Her argument is that every year, she listens to radio promotions asking women to contribute towards a trip to a certain place in order for them to have fun.

Esnart believes such opportunities cannot be achieved by poor rural women like her. She said it is very difficult for rural women to find money to sponsor a trip to join other women and celebrate the day because most local people live a miserable life.

“In the rural areas, we are already struggling to find money to provide our basic needs. So it is very difficult to find disposable income to spend on something luxurious as the Mother’s Day fun trip. Because of that, we sometimes don’t even remember when the day is celebrated because we think the day is not for us local people,” Esnart says.

While some rural women feel the day belongs to the elite only, 79-year-old Dauson Mailosi of Chimbende Village, Traditional Authority Mponda in the district says the day is slowly losing its steam due to democracy which Malawi attained in 1994.

When he was young, Dauson recalls that he used to go and celebrate the day with his parents who were living in Lilongwe then. But that is not happening to him as he claims his seven children rarely visit him and his wife on Mother’s Day.

He also blames the coming in of cellphones for making today’s children forget their parents.

“In our time, when a parent writes a letter to a child that he is sick or that he or she needs something, the children were making it a point to visit their parents. This was despite the possibility that when you visit them, you will find them in good health because letters usually take longer times than phones,” Mailosi says.

He says many children these days barely love their parents such that some take over a month to talk to their parents on a phone while others spend four to five years without visiting their home village to be with their parents.

“Then how do you expect such kind of children to send gifts to their mothers during the Mother’s Day celebration. It is the people who are living in urban areas that are exposed to things like Mother’s Day and Christmas,” he says.

Mailosi and Aribi urge government and other stakeholders to put in place deliberate mechanisms to make rural people more aware of the need to honour mothers on this day, saying, at the moment, the day seems to be favouring the well-to-do in society.

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