Guyana's modern mother Frankly Speaking...
By A.A Fenty
Stabroek News
May 10, 2002

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I refer to the typical working-class thirty-something year-old Guyanese female who has produced a child or more. That basic qualification, which entitles her to be described as "mother", is so often compromised or abused. And I am aware - perhaps painfully so - that the country's mothers are now, in the majority, below twenty-five.

Since Sunday is observed - and hyped - as Mothers' Day, (I hate those American" impositions" called "Days"), I resumed my "cogitation" on this issue, concept of today's Guyanese mother; today's parents and motherhood. Just who are these mothers? What forces and influences have produced our modern mother? A few of my very own perspectives in the context of my being politically-minded, once a teacher and for some twelve years, one who played the role of mother(?).

Today's thirty-or twenty-something year-old mother had to be herself born either around the early seventies or the early eighties respectively. It was hopeful, comforting to think that, having been born long after the turbulent violence, murder and mayhem of the 1962-64 period, they - these parents - came upon us with no baggage foisted on them by the older fifties/sixties generation.

Not quite so. Even if they did not experience those divisive times, they certainly inherited some measure of the legacy of lawlessness, disrespect for authority, corruption, election rigging and engineering and all the other social ills engendered by the behaviour of those sixties. My point is that today's twenty-five to thirty-five year-old mother is not untainted by the politics, immorality, illiteracy and sheer ignorance spawned and sustained by certain politicians, their policies and the economy of ruin and migration now extant, but which had its genesis in that past.

Today's mommy is now one up on her counterpart of the '70's and '80's. Whereas under the People's National Congress regimes the spectacle of protest was kept to a minimum or snuffed out, despite the occasional bravado of the Working People's Alliance (WPA), violent demonstrations, the aggressive/destructive protester-syndrome and disguised or open criminality are now standard fare and too many young mothers are members of the group.

Thousands of this year's Mother's Day mums are poor working-class vendors, security guards, underpaid lower-level public servants, domestic manufacturers, sales clerks and house servants and perhaps "victims" of that phenomenon now described and classified as "single-parent". (Funny how that dreadful term is not applied to fathers?).

I suppose I'll have to commission a scientific study to ascertain whether today's teenaged or thirty-year-old single-parent mother is as good and effective as those single-parent mothers, grannies and aunties of old. I feel that the old-time mommy, blessed with the support of the extended family, more rigid religious and family values and a much stronger sense of self-esteem and worth, would have done - and did do - a better job under the circumstances.

Yes, it is my view that in today's society, too much is stacked against these largely under-educated, dot-com generation moms. OK, many - even most - go to some school and encounter today's teachers; they make a fashion of going to "church" a lot - (serious or pop) - and they do try, in the beginning, before the first child (and/or father), to be proud and protective of their femininity and integrity. Alas, through too many socio-economic pressures - from new-rich lifestyles to the other extreme of sexual exploitation or (even) political manipulation - the young mother quickly succumbs to the ways of the unkind world (which produces woes for herself, her children and the society.)

And in this political economy I grieve for the unemployed, under-employed, exploited or protester mom. Her failure is the collective society's failure. On Sunday's Mother's Day, amidst the recognition, gift giving; the concerts and the fetes, let some bright mothers themselves, along with some social scientists or enquirers launch an enquiry into how our Guyanese mothers are really coping. Do they really know what is motherhood and parenting?

You exclude yourself!

It's easy to discern my biased view. What say you?

Whether he is Administrator, Chief Executive Officer or Co-ordinating Elder of ACDA - the African Cultural and Development Association, Brother Stan Cooke is an authoritative voice of the organisation that should be promoting Black Pride in and of the African Heritage. That is why, partly to be provocative of thought and enquiry, I asked him whether the Association's new Centre of learning and Afro-Centric Orientation (COLAACO) would exclude any interested Non-African-Descended Guyanese from its classes and "orientation". Actually, I should have known the answer. ACDA would love to influence or "orient" any, all and sundry into the history, heritage and cultural mindset of Africa.

All are welcome therefore. Though the idea is to introduce and sustain interest, love and commitment amongst Afro-Guyanese youth primarily, all groups will be included. There are "Narines and Persauds" right now at COLAACO, I'm assured, but what's in those names?

Cooke, who says he has to be colour-blind, not having his sight himself, explains that individuals - the more adult, matured ones - must consciously commit to a cause. Because "irrespective of what you know and acquire in terms of academics, you'll not serve the cause of your people if you're not oriented in the cause of your people." Quite interesting when you consider that along with the quite comprehensive affirmation to the God of Africa, which "the offspring of the ancestors from the continent of Africa" make as a commitment.

Then, it was when Elder Cooke remarked that "one has to have a perspective of who one wants to be; you choose what or which you want to be..." that I resumed one of my pre-occupations, my own contentions: did Mariah Carey, Halle Berry, Bob Marley or Jimmy Adams choose to be "Black", all on their own? Or wasn't it the White World goading them into a choice? Do they deny one parent?

Great stuff! The objective behind any group's teaching love of group and its achievements should be laudable. Just don't denigrate others. And watch the (influence of) the politics of the time.

What a country!

1) The National Flag is draped around a bandit's coffin. Today's escapees are someone's "Freedom Fighters". Is it any wonder that they are not being caught? With sabotage from within and without you know one good reason why the force is up against it. 2) Of the utilities, I like GT&T best. But it's time to join the chorus of disgruntled regarding the cellular service. Did not GT&T know that the poorest of citizens would find ways of accessing these phones? So I have the strong urge to strangle - or boil in oil - the owner of the voices who tell me, "all circuits are busy now" and "this is a call to a cellular number..."

3) Well what I wrote about Sarwan, Chanderpaul and Hooper, before the series, is coming through/true! 'Til next week!