South Africa: Celebrating the life and times of Mother Dee

South Africa: Celebrating the life and times of Mother Dee

Date: August 31, 2012
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Johannesburg, 31 August: Many times we wait until death separates us from our beloved ones to confess how important they have been to us. I have heard moving testimonies and touching eulogies being given to deceased mothers that touched other people`s lives. Luckily, I do not have to hold back until she is dead to write my appreciation on her epitaph.

How many words can be used to show appreciation to the phenomenal women in our lives? What words can I use to thank someone who carried me for nine months with love unmatched?

My mother, Dzidzayi Nyemba, is a goddess who has seen me and my sisters through many hardships the world has thrown at us. Her name Dzidzayi is a Shona word that means “to learn.” She is a school teacher by profession and a mother by nature. We have now come to know her as “Mother Dee.”

Mother Dee got married in her early twenties and by the time she got to her late twenties, she already had three children. Ignore the politics; she is one heck of a strong woman!

Dzidzayi instinctively assumed dual roles in her life; her expected motherly roles and the fatherly roles that for some reason were not there in our family. As a mother she gave us love, appreciation, care, encouragement, courage and at the same time prosper in her career.

God knows, she still teaches me many things about life although it is a little embarrassing now since I am a grown up. Mothers will always be mothers!
As we were growing up, she would discipline us, enforce family values and give counsel when we called on her. She also provided the material needs such as food, clothes and shelter.

She demonstrated to me as a young boy that social roles are flexible and a female can also do an even better job than their male counterpart. She designed a duty roaster for us. Mother Dee is a gender equality activist because she believed in equality of sexes in a patriarchal society. I grudgingly did domestic chores like sweeping the house, washing plates and making my bed every Wednesday and my two sisters had their own days on the roaster.

Dzidzayi laid out a strong foundation in our early lives and taught my sisters and me to compete and always aim high in life. Enough said about her contribution to my early childhood and ultimate understanding of gender equality.

Any mischief would invite a good dose of corporal punishment. As the saying goes, “spare the road and spoil the child.” I do not regret that I’m past that age of being canned. It is true that important human values are taught during primary socialisation.

As early as the fourth grade, my mother secured a boarding place for me. She sacrificed her hard earned cash to afford me a good education at a reputable school. She had high hopes for me and she has always wanted me to surpass her personal achievements which I must admit is a tough task.

Thus from an early age I learnt to be responsible and independent. I want to pass on the values that she has inculcated in me to my own children.
I have no doubt that we were always in the right hands because my mother taught us Christian values. Every Sunday she made sure we did not miss church and ensured we lived by the values prescribed in the bible.

If I represent hard work, reliability, empathy, intelligence, determination, discipline, poise, care and love, credit should go to the woman named Dzidzayi. If I represent anything opposite, well I will take responsibility for it.

Twice in my life, I’ve come close to death because of malaria attacks. I spent weeks in hospital on both occassions. During those desperate times Dzidzayi nursed me and stayed by my side.

My mother saw me through near death experiences and I am sure she would still be my rock when the cheeps are low again. I feel lucky to have a mother like her who gave me the strength to pull through even the most difficult of times. Being the only son, she gave me an overdose of love.

There is definitely no way I can repay my mother for the greatest of sacrifices she made for me from birth to date. She has toiled hard to bring us up and to become “successful” children. My sister Faith is a mother, career woman and happily married. Precious, the last child, is doing well at school and is a great athlete.

Mother Dee has done wonderful things for us and many other people she has helped along the way without expecting anything in return. She is a phenomenal woman and I just want to take this opportunity to say these two words to her; thank you.

Fanuel Hadzizi is the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at Gender Links. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service, special series on celebrating phenomenal women, bringing you fresh views on everyday news.


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