The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has organised a public lecture under the theme: “African Motherhood Proverbs and Worldview: A Matriarchal Perspectives.“
Sr. Dominic Dipio, Makerere University Kampala
Dr Dorothy Atuhura
The ‘mother’ is a distinct female category that is prevalent in African folklore and art forms. Her prominence is mostly related to her centrality in the family – the basic cell of society. Because of her indelible connection to the children, she is consequently at the centre of the economy and spirituality of the family/community. The body and soul of the family rests in the mother’s hand. This large space she occupies is evident in proverbs and sayings about her role in African society. Using selected proverbs across African, this paper examines how life was/is organised around the mother, even if Africa is, today, predominantly, referred to as a patriarchal society. My selection of proverbs is influenced by the thoughts of Africanist scholars like Cheik Anta Diop, Ifi Amadiume and Nkiru Nzegwu, who in their various voices, argue that Africa was a matriarchal and matrilineal society long before the force of patriarchy eroded it. Folklore, and particularly proverbs are repositories of a community’s memory that bear traces of older cultures that may still be discernible in the present culture. My analysis of the selected proverbs as pointers to the matriarchal traces of African communities will draw from Heide Goettner-Abendroth’s research on matriarchal societies around the world. I will conclude with comments about the implications of African motherhood proverbs for more balanced gender relations in contemporary Africa.
Keywords: motherhood, African proverbs, African worldview, matriarchy, patriarchy