Maya Angelou wrote ‘Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer’. This is a phrase I hold close to my heart, and what I wish to do in this first post. I give thanks to the Selibeng.com team and the great work they are doing in providing this platform through which I can engage with you all online. Moreover, for all the support she has given, I want to give great thanks for and to the most incredible woman I know, my Mama.
Last month we saw the commemoration of the African woman. This brought to my mind the importance of having strong female role models. Locally, it is especially important that there are African women with whom girls and young woman can most realistically relate. Internationally, there are numerous women of Colour such as; Oprah Winfrey, Aretha Franklin, the Knowles sisters and aforementioned Maya Angelou, who have shown that despite the barriers they face as Black women, they have been able to achieve international success and inspire millions around the globe. However, their experiences are far drawn from those felt by the Mosotho woman.
Continentally, there are strong female figures such as South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma who was the first woman to chair the African Union and Nigeria’s Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti who was an activist advocating for women’s rights and equality in the country. Here at home, we have our own celebrated woman, such as Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso who we know not only as part of our Monarchy, but also for the amazing work with creating awareness and support for the plight of young girls needing sanitary towels. It is so important for our next generation of African women to have strong female role models to whom they can look to and be inspired by.
Call to mind the classic image of the woman or little girl carrying a full bucket of river water over a long distance to ensure that her family gets by. For most of us, this is something we see daily. It’s important to appreciate that role models can come in different forms. Let us give thanks for the beautiful African women we know in our everyday lives. Let it not be taken for granted that the women we engage with everyday can impart wisdom and knowledge that we as the future can benefit from. Their strength in overcoming adversity that is unique to the African terrain, and through all this being our providers, care-givers, lovers, mothers and friends. In Lesotho, the HIV/AIDs epidemic and high unemployment rates find us having women in their old-age tending to babies and young children who cannot be raised by their biological mothers.
To our men, you are by no means irrelevant to what is needed. As our native allies, men need to protect, support and motivate, guide, and love our women. To all you who do this already, I give thanks. It is my request that we encourage other men to remember the value of women, beyond physical or material benefit. It is only in us moving forward together that we can help build African women.
Lesotho takes pride in her abundance of diamond minerals found in our rich earth. Mosotho woman, African woman, you who is a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a mother, a wife – you are a diamond, and we take pride in you. Possessing extraordinary value, strength and power and for you, I give thanks.