Former beauty queens Martha Kamanga and Elizabeth Pullu take Frederick Ndala through their beautiful mother- daughter relationship, how they overcome the lows, celebrated highs and through it all grown to understand the miracle of motherhood.
How many children do you have?
Martha: I have five children all together. My first-born Watson died, second born is Elizabeth, then I gave birth to Mable, Fiskani and Silvia.
So, Elizabeth is your first daughter…
Martha: Yes, she is. I was 21 years old when I had her.
Were you prepared for her as a mother, or did you get into it not knowing what to expect?
Martha: Of course, I was prepared! I knew that I was going to have a child and started getting ready for motherhood.
What are some of your favourite memories of her as a baby and as a woman?
Martha: Both my husband and I wanted a baby girl and God granted us our wish. Her first birthday was memorable. Her grandma travelled all the way from Mzuzu to Lilongwe just to give her a birthday cake she had baked for her. When she made it to college, I was happy and then came her graduation; that was also memorable. Then there is her marriage. You know how happy any mother is to see her daughter follow the proper marriage channels. She had her marriage blessed in church and that made me one very proud mother. The birth of her son Jean Paul also brought me joy. Seeing her growing up as an intelligent little girl boosted my sense of motherhood.
What values did you pass on to Elizabeth?
Martha: I would say self-confidence, love and a sense of respect for the elders. I taught her never to overlook or despise elders.
When you look at her now, what are some of the things she does that make you feel proud?
Martha: Her ability to make sound decisions in life and as a married woman gives me pride. Quitting her job and starting up a business was a wise decision. Besides, she has continued to know God and uphold Christian values. She is respectful and always remembers to give thanks to God for everything through His only beloved son Jesus Christ.
Elizabeth, Mable and you were all once crowned Miss Malawi; did you prepare your children for the crown from an early age?
Martha: I would say yes and no. But for a mother to bring up your children the way you want them to be, you have to become their role model. Back then, I used to take part in charitable programmes and would sometimes organise fashion shows in which my girls modelled alongside everyone else. Little did I know that I was imparting something on to them at that tender age. I, however, did not consciously prepare them to participate in the Miss Malawi pageant. I am so proud that the three of us held the crown at some point and I am still walking tall! I feel my girls and I achieved something in the history of Malawi.
What beauty secrets have you passed on to your daughters?
Martha: I have taught them to always, and I mean always, remember groom themselves and pass it on to others. Above all, I told them to put God first in everything and I am happy because Elizabeth is a good listener.
What sacrifices have you made since becoming a mom?
Martha: A lot.
Elizabeth: I would say a lot too. I can no longer do some of the things I used to do because I am dedicated to my family and home now. That is a great sacrifice.
Elizabeth, did becoming a mother change your perspective of life? Did it help you understand your mother better? How?
A lot! I ceased to be number one in my life. My son is my number one now. Having him has made me want to live longerÃ¢â‚¬â€for as long as God can allow me. I would want to be there for him. Everything I do revolves around him, his future and well-being. Having him has made me realise that God really loves us unconditionally because He is our Father. It is the same thing as like a parent; you just have this great love for your child; the kind of love that is beyond comprehension. And yes, it has helped me understand my mum better and even love her more because I went through what she experienced during labour and I am going through what she went through for my brother, my sisters, and me. And I have come to realise that it is not easy. I salute my mum for that; in fact, I salute every mother.
Elizabeth, what are the most valuable things you have learnt from your mother that you would like passing on to your children?
I have learnt to have respect for everyone. I have learnt to do everything to the best of my abilities. I have also learnt to never take anyone or anything for granted, to be kind and to love God.
How has your mother helped you with your son?
My mum is always there for my son. She adores him so much. At times, she makes me think she loves being a grandma more than being a mum. However, my mother-in-law and aunties taught me how to take care of my son in his early days; not because my own mother didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to teach me, but because she wanted to give them the chance to do so.
What are the joys of being a mother?
Elizabeth: Just knowing that there is this one person that looks up to me and knowing that I have to be there for him no matter what!
Martha: Having a baby is enjoyable and being called granny is such fun. I enjoy it when my childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s kids call me grandma.
The mother-daughter relationship has always been a complex one. How would you define the relationship you have right now?
Elizabeth: My relationship with my mum right now is good. She is someone I can easily relate to. She is very funny and makes us all laugh all the time. That makes it easy for me to be open with her and whenever I have a problem, I always know that I can rely on her. She is also a very good listener who lends me her ear even when I am not making any sense at all! However, she can be stubborn at times and a bit tough but I have learnt that she does this only when she has to be.
Martha: We have a very fine relationship. We get along easily and when we step on each otherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s toes, I just brush it aside because I realise that she is my child. One thing I have learnt in life is never to go to bed angry and that it is healthy to always be happy, so I never let our little tiffs affect me long-term.
What did it take for the two of you to get this sort of relationship?
Elizabeth: Of course, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had had our ups and downs but I think what has made our relationship so good is the fact that we missed out our time together when I was younger. My parents got divorced and we grew up with my dad. So, we cherish this time so much that we both donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t allow any misunderstanding to last longer than necessary.
Martha: I just take it that they are children and never take them seriously if we cross paths. I try to talk to them where necessary.
Elizabeth, in what ways does your mom inspire you? What are some of the things you like about her?
She is a strong and hard working person. What I love most about her is that she can make me laugh even when I do not feel like it.
Martha, each child is unique; what are some of the qualities and skills you love about Elizabeth?
IÃ‚Â love everything about Elizabeth! You know what; I have very beautiful daughters, educated and self-reliant. She has unique qualities. She is very confident, loving and caring. Above all, she has patience.
Have you got anything planned for MotherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Day?
Elizabeth: Yes but I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t reveal that right now!