May. The month in which we honour and celebrate all that is Africa. An opportune time to give thanks for the celestial being that is the African Woman. The strength of an African woman. One of her most overlooked superpowers, is her ability to walk. On these African soils, under this African sun. Long distances. To fetch water, delicately place a bucket on her head and carry it back, she can walk. Pregnant and tired, to reach a medical facility, she can walk. In search of livelihood, a means of putting food on the table for her family, with a small child tied securely on her back, she can walk. There is elegance in your humility and a strength in your endurance to keep moving forward and remain a pillar on whom others can lean on, even in the greatest of adversities. To us, dear woman, you are sister; confidante; wife; lover; friend. You are Mother. Few things in this world can compare to a Mother’s Love.
‘Mosali o tšoara thipa ka bohaleng’. A Sesotho proverb translating to ‘The woman holds the knife on the sharp edge’. This phrase very aptly encompasses the sad truth that women bear the brunt of life’s challenges. There is an expectation that because they are strong, they are meant to endure and bare all things. And if she does not, she is weak. Lesotho, as with many countries across Africa, continues to be a patriarchal society, where men are still viewed as the dominant gender, being given priority over their female peers. The patriarchal society we live in has seen young boys and men being, from a young age, indoctrinated into leadership roles in their families and communities. Young girls and women were raised to play the role of the submissive, where speaking amongst men was perceived as a sign of insolence and disrespect. Yet behind our own doors, most of us have witnessed how a woman’s voice can soothe a home; we know how the strength of her essence can bind us, like mortar binds the house. We recognize women as our silent leaders, rendered inaudible beyond the home because of patriarchy’s limitations. The recognition that all deserve empowerment and the chance to reach their full potential is how we can ensure that all our people contribute to building Lesotho, our home. Gender equality is an important factor in this regard. Let us respect and protect our women who are for more than childbirth and raising children. This is in no way a mitigation of the thankless work this is, whether it be raising one’s birth children or those of others. It is to highlight that women have the capacity to contribute to industry, push forward policies and agendas of the public sector, and create employment opportunities and build wealth in initiatives in the private sector.
We reap what we sow. There needs to be a fervent call for the support and development of our young girls and women, invest in them that which later will be reaped from them as they come across hardships specific to their gender. Let’s educate our young girls and create a strong generation of women to move Lesotho forward. With the collaboration and mutual aid of men, women can place this country in the position it has the capability to occupy.
Every day, we love and appreciate all that you do. As we honour Africa month, let us remember to pay specific homage to the women who everyday make our lives better. We raise our glasses in toast and salute to you. To the Mosotho woman, our African Woman – Happy Africa month!