Where is South Africa’s Mother?

by Paulina French

I don’t know about you, but I am really over all the “Mother’s Day” advertising that either bombards me when I go to the shops, in my inbox, or on the radio. Everywhere I turn there is a picture or something being suggested of what I should be doing to make my mother feel special. On a very personal level, celebrating my own mother is something I do every year and I teach my children to celebrate the very special gift of their grandmothers.

If you are a mother yourself, you can relate to the fact that you live your life to help develop your children into independent, free thinking, successful and decent human beings. You nurture your children when they are young and help them to achieve their dreams and goals. You help them get up when they fall so that they can carry on. Wiping tears and feeding them comfort food when life becomes a little difficult, you show them to persevere even if their hearts are breaking. You hold their hands when they are not sure of themselves. You also know when its time to let go so that they can venture off on their own.

At this time in our country I cannot but help wonder who stands out as the mother of our nation. I look at our politicians and I do not see any woman politician who is speaking to or guiding her children, the people of this country, as a mother would. I hear a lot of women politicians praising the questionable leadership we are experiencing, but I do not hear them standing up for what, surely, they must be aware of. Any mother would be concerned about the current situation. There is one woman who epitomises what a mother should be. A woman who is no longer a part of our nation’s parenting structure. A woman who has had such an impact on our country, that we as a nation are feeling her absence. Thuli Madonsela. A principled and courageous woman who stood up for what is right. A woman who tried to get the children of our nation to do the right thing.

There is one woman who may have been our hope of having the mother we don’t have, one who would help turn our nation around. She was the chairperson of the African Union Commission from 15 October 2012 until 30 January 2017. Although she was not very popular among many AU officials, she has been praised for her managerial improvements. So there was some hope that she could have been the mother we need. Then she started telling the nation’s children that protesting against the current government was unacceptable, inappropriate behaviour and “rubbish”. Her principles and courage have become tainted by her aspiration to power.

Our nation needs a mother. A mother who will take us out of this current crises. A mother who will hold her children’s hands during this difficult period. A mother who will help us to be the best that we can be. Where is she?

Mrs Paulina French

Paulina is a Chartered Accountant who spent a number of years working for an international auditing firm and with a major retail bank. She is married with two daughters. On the birth of her second daughter she left the corporate world and became a full time mom. She spent a few years doing some consulting work and used to work three mornings a week for the Jesuit Institute.

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