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September 24, 2018

Interesting how Nairobi mother seems to evolve with time

Interesting how Nairobi mother seems to evolve
Interesting how Nairobi mother seems to evolve

Mothers' Day is on May 10, 2015. Call your mother and say hallo on Sunday. Send her a text. Send her flowers. Give her a voucher for supermarket near to her. Or a bookstore. This is the time to show your mum that “you appreciate her” like Churchill of the Churchill Show is famous for saying.

This Mothers' Day thing is new to Kenya. For many of us, the idea of us setting aside a day to celebrate those who carried us for nine months in their bodies, and then the rest our lives, is as alien as a true Nairobian passing free tasty mutura. It's weird to say no.

Whether we celebrate her, the mother will still do her job; raise her child to the best of her ability. In times gone by, it was pretty simple to get into that job of ensuring your offspring got the discipline and love required to grow as a healthy and well-adjusted child. From pregnancy, the mother to be was given preferential treatment – at the front of the line in the bank, seats on the bus and other parks.

When the child was born, they got the love of the society; especially if they were well-behaved children. If they made the strategic error of misbehaving in public, they would get loved in a different way. A child would face the wrath of any adult who would thrash them and take them to their parents who would then proceed to add more pain with an extra thrashing. This kind of thrashing was not too dissimilar to the thrashing a teenager was given by his mother in public when he went to protest in the US city of Baltimore. This communal parenting meant it was always in a child's interest to be as well behaved as possible, for they would never know the day when a slap would land for a passing parent. The mother thus had the support of the community in ensuring her child was raised well.

The new mother has a very different experience. At pregnancy, they are still accorded some privileges such as being allowed to go to the bank without lining up, which probably came in handy during the back-to-school rush on Monday and Tuesday. Unfortunately, some people are taking advantage of their special position so that anyone with a big belly even from too much nyama choma and beer, male or female, try to jump lines when the call for pregnant women is made.

With the advent of nanny cams, the parents have come to believe everyone on earth is out to physically injure their children until there are maimed or killed. That means when the child is born, the public actions of the child cannot be questioned by any adult who is not the parent – unless they are a police officer. This means you will see a child doing naughty or even illegal things but it is not a bright idea to even threaten them as their parent will be very annoyed with you. You could find yourself in court facing a jail term, and possibly be ostracised if you dare look sideways at a child even if they were breaking down your fence and you have no evidence. This means the mother has even more work today than what it was.

There was a time when once you became a mother you lost your personality. You immediately stopped being referred to as Jackie or Carol, and you were given the name of your child. Thus mothers started being referred to as Mama Nkirote, Mama Omondi or Mama Amina. This new status also came with the a new look with head scarfs and matronly clothes being the order of the day. In the new millennium, mothers are more likely to insist on using their name. So, if you call this lady Mama Jared she will quickly remind you that her name is Zawadi, as she is not an extension of her child. Then the look is more hip. Thus you wouldn't be surprised to see a mother walking into the newest coffee house in her sexy mini with her head bobs to the headphones attached to her iPhone.

A younger more hip mother is what we are likely to meet on our city streets in this day and age. This doesn't mean they love their kids any less – it just means they don't want to lose their identity.

Happy Mothers' Day to my mum and all other mums; new or old school!

 

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