|Guri ann hooyo lahayni aaa, lama degaan. (Somali)
Mama ni nguzo ya familia. (Swahili)
Une mère est un noyau de la famille. (French)
A mother is the cornerstone of the family. (English)
Somali (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia) Proverb
Background Explanation, History, Meaning and Everyday Use
The African traditional culture is based on family values. In this regard, parents are viewed as the model for their children. The mother plays an exceptional role as she holds and exercises her duties in the family and in society at large. In Somali cultural settings a mother is the cornerstone whom the family and clan rely on. A mother is the heart of the family.
She is believed to be the face of the family. In everyday practice she takes care of her family and the nation altogether. A home without a mother is like a desert.
1 Samuel 2:2: “Hannah then prayed as follows: ‘My heart exults in Yahweh. In my God is my strength lifted up. My mouth derides my foes for I rejoice in your deliverance.’”
1 Corinthians 13:11 "When I was an infant at my mother’s breast I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.”
Contemporary Use and Religious Application
A mother is very important according to Somali cultural and religious beliefs. She bears children, cares for them and leads them to mature life. The joy and happiness in a family cannot exist without her. Imagine when the mother is no longer present due to one reason or another such as death or divorce. Children, especially the younger ones, suffer psychological, social, economic and religious losses.
In the Somali context, children would be raised to a religious creed as long as the mother is a strong believer. The mother takes most of her time in instructing, advising and tending her children. The moment her children go wrong, she tenderly admonishes them to the right course. In reality children are full of hope as the mother works tirelessly in building their future.
NOTE: This is Proverb No. 81 in A Collection of 100 Somali Proverbs by Cyprien Ntambara. Nairobi: African Proverb Working Group, 2014.
Photographs selected by:
Cephas Yao Agbemenu
Department of Art and Design
P.O. Box 43844