Some eons ago, when I was in primary school, a classmate called Boniface (I remember that name vividly, who can forget it), asked why I always spoke about my uncles when other kids spoke about their fathers.
I didn’t think much of that statement, I was only in Grade 2 then, but years later the weight of that question hit me right in between my eyes.
Unlike other children I went to school with, I never had the luxury of speaking about my father’s heroic exploits, because the man simple wasn’t there for me.
The only male role models I had were my male teachers at my grey boarding school and the uncles I had at home. Because they meant the world to me, I probably I never missed my father that much.
Sometime this month, I will celebrate my 14th birthday since my mother passed away and for me that’s a gap that will never be filled.
As I grew older, it was the stereotypes about single parents, particularly women, that has weighed on my shoulders, as I hear people make disparaging remarks about them.
Questions like the one that Boniface asked me way back at Sacred Heart, began to have meaning as I grew older and having to leave with the prejudices that single mothers ask.
To me my mother was a hero, she meant everything to me, she still does. Even in death she has been more valuable than to me than my father, never caring how I went trudged along.
I went to some of the best schools, thanks to my mother and at the time my father thought they were too expensive, I shudder to think what would have happened to me had my mother listened to my dad.
Years later I met some of my sisters, who did not have the same luck as I did; they hardly finished their Ordinary Levels and didn’t do well in school. Not because they weren’t intelligent, but because my father cared little about their schooling.
I salute my mother for standing up to my father, I fear that had she listened to him, I would have suffered the same fate as my siblings.
What worries me is that our African society is quick to condemn single mothers and no one questions the roles that makes women take the bold step of moving out of marriage.
In my culture, marriage is an important institution, particularly for women, but if you see a woman being bold enough to move out of a marriage set up, then it means something is fatally wrong.
I wonder how my life would have turned out had I been brought up by both parents, but I pay tribute to my mother for moving out of a set up that oppressed her and limited her happiness.
I am eternally grateful to her for the way I turned out, the sacrifices she made, the sleepless nights she had, just to make sure that I had a quality life.
I think single parents deserve more credit than they are getting and I salute all of them out there.
They are made of much sterner stuff.
I salute them.