Dear African Mothers,

We love you to the moon and back, but why are you always like this?

With the advent of Mpesa, that all – saving mobile money transfer, came the true depiction of African mothers; forever broke. They are forever ‘flashing’. When you call back, you can always guess with 99.99% precision, that it is some little matter to do with Judas’ department resources. In a rush to save them from their collapsing financial stock, you would mine a few shillings here and there; 3k, 5k even more and send.

Immediately your transaction is complete, your phone will be ‘flashed’ again. What now? As you call back, now nervous the more, she would gladly let you know that she was flashing you to say thank you for the cash you have sent her!

Try running a joint business with them – African mothers – it will end in tears; you can use that guarantee to solicit for any loan from Equity.

So you buy them sheep for rearing right? For economic boost you say. Your poor animals will be sold one market day after another and no wind of such information will ever come close to your ears. But you will be duly informed whenever your cash – draining sheep are ‘struck’ by some strange disease whose healer they have already fetched.

There is just a small problem, you’ll be told; money to sort out the healer’s animal concoction jab.

You are not permitted to send the money directly to the healer, it must pass through the Credit Regulator – your mum – who will diligently pay the healer after a few truncations; a grave alteration on the amount earlier demanded of you.

Try carrying out any audit of her expenses, and you’ll soon learn, that even the best brains in the Auditor General’s office cannot contemplate, let alone undo the scheme and web of works carried out by the African mother. In fact, you’ll acknowledge that it is much easier to be struck by lightning in the middle of the day in Mandera than succeed in making our mother’s expenses, if any, accounted.

There’s no balancing of books, cash in cash out is a myth so useless as the aggregate of letters ‘ueue’ in the word queue. Cash always come in, into their forever ‘broke’ Treasury, it just doesn’t leave.  

*****

I remember a story of a friend, a lady, whose mum shielded her from the grip of solicits of a distant village aunt.

But hey they can be real buffers from some village characters who perennially try, with little pint of shame, to fraud us; us who live in the city miles away from the village. I remember a story of a friend, a lady, whose mum shielded her from the grip of solicits of a distant village aunt.

The aunt, apparently one who never bothered a slice about the lady’s education in her younger years, turned on the young lady now all educated and doing well with a list of petty expenses she wanted solved.

The young lady in a cleverness so rare, asked the aunt to narrate those ordeals to her mum who stayed in the village, then later her mum could convince her what noise was worth spending on!

The aunt was contained, and ever since lived to keep off the tracks of the young lady. Needless to say the aunt never bothered the lady’s mum – she would have burst the myth miles away.

Hers was akin to one of my rural ‘uncles’ who kept me on a tight leash over this little matter of hospital bill. He had pled his case – a case of a recovering but detained patient – over the phone. He had been admitted, he poured his soul out. And that he managed already to clear the medicine and doctor’s fee, but there were some loose coins, a matter of 1.5k pending before he could be released.

Calls kept coming even after I asked him to let me fetch for some shillings to assuage his ‘predicament’ situation. Then something crossed my mind, what if, a big if, my ‘uncle’ was not unwell after all? Neither admitted?

I rung my mum and explained the sad tale of my ‘uncle’. She, in a scene only depicted in the Nigerian movies, paused my little rumbles and set forth to DCI this weighty matter of a sickly detained soul.

Few minutes later, she amid bursts of laughter, informed me that that “‘unwell uncle of yours’ is doing very well, has never been sick and is currently going on with his firewood splitting labor in another villager’s compound”. Find something useful to do with your money, she added, you can also send me some I buy seeds for next season!

*****

But the biggest joke you can fancy to pull to fruition with our lovely mothers is trying to use her as your World bank; a money saving unit.

They, our African mothers, think that you work in all departments of the government. You’re retained in the Lands office as a junior clerk at the tail end of civil service grade but in her head her son or daughter is some high ranking senior manager in the office of the president.

You will not only be sorting out all her personal and extended issues on matters land, but must also help in sorting out some Pension benefits follow – ups in the National Treasury!

But the biggest joke you can fancy to pull to fruition with our lovely mothers is trying to use her as your World bank; a money saving unit.

I once, in those tender years when Christmas day thrill was the icing on the cake, tried turning my mum into a savings box. She told me account opening in her bank was free. I had plans at the beginning of the year. Plans to kill Christmas day. Plans to outdo my friends in trendy wear, splendor of carefully selected Mitumba clothes, and chafua my table with accompanying big Fanta orange (Madiaba) and a loaf of bread.

And so to attain such a high fete at the end of the year, I engaged my little mind into meagre jobs to raise the relevant coins; such Christmas expenses were considered unnecessary deviations that just couldn’t fit into mum’s budget. Her budget was always running negative, exhausted purely by essential commitments. I indulged my little ass into planting in rice farms whenever school allowed or those days the head teacher would send us away to fetch parents for a parents – teachers meeting.

There was no need to head home to tell her, she’ll still get the news from other parents anyways. Every time available was squeezed to escape to the rice farms to plant a bit and receive some mullah. Come evening, loaded with cash after all day’s work in a sunny plantation, the cash would be safely banked in my IMF monetary system – my mum’s.

I would, in my own motion, keep private record of the deposits into my all caring bank that operated 24 hours a day. The transactions were one way, deposits only. Not that I cared, I didn’t need the money until a few weeks to Christmas which was months away still. My bank didn’t promise interests on my deposits, but it assured me of total security in her strong room.

My bank didn’t promise interests on my deposits, but it assured me of total security in her strong room.

*****

Then joNarobi started streaming into the village, December holidays finally came about. It was a season to be in your finest, a season of goodness, a season when joNarobi would return the village tax accumulated over the year. With Christmas day steadily approaching, I made some visits to the market center’s open Mitumba stalls, did my surveys, made cost enquiries and settled in my mind on some perfectly fitting Tokyo jeans and tees with a matching used but slightly tattered Reebox sport shoes.

My savings would fit in tremendously perfectly perfect in a very perfect way as Trump would put it.

So I approached my studious bank, whose mind seemed to be elsewhere, to let me withdraw my year’s savings so I may enjoy the fruits of my labor. Bemused, she fixed her gaze on me and, without an iota of self – struggle, asked if in her house, all year, I had been eating mattress. Chei!

Needless to say, I closed my bank account and blocked the customer service number. The following year I worked in farms still, but I made my tummy my best friend. Like a conveyor belt, I would sweat, receive, purchase, feast, sleep, forget and repeat the cycle. At least I would not need to deal with an irreconcilable balance sheet at the end of the year.

Need I talk about you lending them money with intent that they would return it? For this and other jokes you can try, otherwise handover the money and move on. This country, her country, after all is greater than an individual.

Dear African mothers, we need to talk. Ebu tukutane pale nyuma ya blue tent (We love you just the way you are; we’re forever indebted to you for your matchless sacrifices).

15 thoughts on “Dear African Mothers,

  1. You nailed it!Our African mothers are special!You perfectly described my mother here!I love her to the moon and back,my credit regulator!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good topic and delivery. I can add. Everything would be ok and all smiles till your father gets home and your mishap, which you thought was forgiven, forgoten and kept secret is aired out in the open at the dinner table. Sweating becomes something your body does gladly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lol!!!
    You reminded me of what my mum pulled on me.😂😂😂
    So that particular Christmas you were minus Tokyo Jeans 😜😜.. ama you just relaxed in shorts na slippers and called it a day😜

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cheers to our special African mothers…. I have to call her daily if I don’t salamu itakuwa “Sasa hii tukirudi reserve tutakumbukwa kweli” 😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

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