We on the street think that Mother’s Day, which will be celebrated Sunday, October 15, is hardly enough thanks for everything mums do.
If I, for example, want to thank my mother, Ana Mphepo for everything she did for me, it will be like chasing a storm.
You see, here in Malawi, becoming a mother is a matter of life and death. But my mum, managed to have nine of us. So you can see how I adore her and any effort to thank her through this column will be such a tall order.
To thank mothers, we all have to change the way we do business because mothers in this corruption-infested country are going through hell. If in doubt, pay a visit to any public maternity ward— and listen to the heart-rending stories of women on the verge of motherhood.
For the past few weeks, chief executive officers and some influential women in society took up a challenge to sleepover at public maternity wards in Blantyre. Their stories were chilling.
One of the women, UK’s High Commissioner to Malawi, Holly Tett, who spent a night on a cold floor at Limbe Health Centre in Blantyre, witnessed 53 pregnant women and new mothers crammed into the 10-bed capacity ward that has one bathroom to serve them all.
Thousands of women in this country became mothers under such difficult circumstances. So, as we loot Capital Hill, let’s remember that being a mother in Malawi is tough.
The conditions under which a woman becomes a mother are also dictated by whether she went to school and how many years she remained there, whether she lives in a town or in the village and how much money her family earns. Malawi is a terrible country to be a mother.
City women, like my wife Charity, who I have been together with for 10 years, are more likely to give birth in a hospital compared to their rural counterparts. In 2014, we were lucky, she was expecting a boy. But one day at 7 months while we were busy shopping for toys and clothes in Limbe, she could not feel the baby kicking. We rushed to the hospital and within an hour in a highly functional operational theatre at Mwaiwathu Private Hospital, we had a pre-term baby. For it to survive, the equipment was ready to help him breathe. Had it been that I was poor, living in a dusty village far from the city, I would have lost both the mother and child.
As you can imagine, being a mother in this poorly-governed country, you have to pay a price, either with money or a life. It’s a sad reality. The poor and less educated have the least access to health services. Mothers from humble backgrounds such as my mum, pay the highest price for their bundles of joy.
Word on the street is that, Mother’s Day is hardly enough thanks for everything mums do because the act of becoming a mother poses the greatest risk to the life of a woman in Malawi.
According to the 2015 health survey, 634 women out of every 100 000 die during childbirth. In fact, maternal deaths represent about 28 per cent of all deaths among women between the ages of 15 and 49. In short, becoming a mother is more dangerous than travelling overnight in an overloaded, speeding minibus with a drunk and tired driver at the wheel.
Sunday is Mother’s Day. The day will surely bring both mothers and their children together. I will not be surprised that both Twitter and Facebook will be on fire with Mother’s Day tributes. Scores of people will be posting pictures celebrating their mothers.
It’s sad that these days posting pictures and writing tribute messages that do not make sense is all that we can do. We on the streets, wish Malawians could do more for our mothers.
Enough said, happy mother’s day to all mothers, single mothers and all women who dream of being mothers one day.
“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.”— Maya Angelou.