The Original African Queens
Have you seen BellaNaija’s new reality web-series called I’m a Superstar because of my Supermom? The show dramatizes stories told by celebrities and their mothers of the trials their mothers had to overcome to raise them and their siblings.
On its face, the show was created to uplift hardworking mothers and thank them for what many call a thankless job. The first duo was Julius Agwu and his mother, Mrs. Agwu. Their story is a touching one, of a hard life in the village. Mother and children left by a traveling mason to fend for themselves. We first hear how Julius’ mother delivered three of her four children herself; one on the farm, one on the side of the road and one at home. It was only Julius who was born at the hospital because his mother was bleeding more than she normally did and the pain was something she had never experienced before.
Julius’ mother tells of raising her four children with an absentee husband who traveled to build homes. When he was home he didn’t get along with his son Julius and was the cause of much trouble. For a long time, Julius’s mother had only the proceeds from her time at the market to feed and cloth her four children.
Thanks to the hard work of Mrs. Agwu her four children were raised into adulthood, Julius made a name for himself, and now is in the position to thank his mother. The interesting thing about this series and the framework of the stories is that the suffering of a mother, the toiling she does in the name of her children is praised and exulted.
The cultural implication is still that a woman’s greatest achievement is the success of her children. Even though Mrs. Agwu was well known in the area because she sold firewood, still the trust thrust of her value is in that the money was used to raise her children.
I sincerely appreciate the effort that BellaNaija has put in producing a series that tells the story of women in Nigeria who lived during a time of strong misogyny and oppression. These stories had no value while they were being lived. If anything these stories are tales of what is expected and are not seen as exceptional. However, as values are shifting and there is a rising sense of feminism even in African nations, it is important to recognize how the story of a strong woman, mother and partner will be different in ten, twenty, fifty years from now.