CHOICE OR CIRCUMSTANCE
In the African culture being a single mother was seen as an abomination in
the past. No woman would like see their children grow without a father, many are single mothers because they have lost husbands faced rejection, though afew are single by choice. Read the insight by Irene Lamunu to see why they are single.
In the past, if an African woman got pregnant before marriage, it was a disgrace to her family. Being a single mother was equally an abomination in many Ugandan and African cultures as the young women would earn themselves disturbing names. One Ugandan tribe that was notably known for punishing unmarried pregnant young women was the Bakiga. If a Mukiga girl conceived before marriage in the past, she would be taken to a tiny island known as Akampene (Punishment Island) on Lake Bunyonyi where she would be abandoned and left to die. In Runkungiri district, the girls were thrown into Kisiizi falls and it is said the tradition only stopped when one of the girls dragged her brother down the falls with her.
Among the Baganda, if a girl got married while still a virgin, her family would be rewarded with a goat. Families in Buganda were therefore very keen on making it a point that their daughters went to marriages while virgins, as one with a child would earn the family insults instead of gifts. Today, the trend is changing. Society is beginning to embrace the many single mothers who are rejected by their husbands. Some women are single because they have rejected their husbands, while some conceived before
marriage and others, because their husbands died. Juliet Tumwebaze 30, a resident of Seeta is a single mother of one child. To her, being a single mother was not her portion. Her boyfriend showed that he loved her so much and wanted to marry her. Sadly, as soon as she revealed that
she was expecting his child, he bluntly told her, he had a wife at home. He advised her to get rid of the pregnancy. Juliet refused and instead ended the relationship. She talked to her mother about her baby daddy and she advised her to keep her baby, which she did. Like Juliet, many young women are facing similar challenges. “It is very easy for men to tell you to get rid of the baby because they don’t know what you go through emotionally,” commented Laura another single mother Both Laura and Juliet decided to keep their babies and are content raising their children single-handedly. Laura says she cannot ask baby daddy for finances because he did not want the baby in the first place, so he would not be willing to assist her. “On the day he asked me to get rid of the pregnancy, he ceased being part of me and my baby. I don’t need his help,” she added.
Another single mother, Nakyobe Geraldine 27, a mother of two and a resident of Kyengera revealed that she left school to go live with her boyfriend, when she was only sixteen years old. She had her first child at seventeen and the second at nineteen. After her second-born, her boyfriend was unable to take care of them. He later turned physical and verbal after
his drunken escapades. Her mother forgave her after her revelations and told her to return home and begin a new life. She added that it was her fault leaving school at a tender age. Now, she wants the best for her children, thus her choice of becoming a single mother. Another mother of five, Anena
Catherine, a resident of Njeru, has had to fend for her children single-handedly since her husband walked out on them and got himself a new woman. “He stopped being part of our lives 15 years ago. In the beginning, he would help here and there but eventually, he stopped. Every time the children go to him, he would send them away or give them money that cannot even buy charcoal. One day, he gave them Ugx shs 2,000 while, another time I asked him for school fees and he told me that he did not
have money,” she lamented. Anena said that being a hardworking woman, she decided to work for her children and stop begging, thus the choice for being a single mother. She added that her husband’s main concern was
his new family. “No one will know the reason why a man would walk away from his children and forget they exist, it’s only the man who knows why he does that. If it is because he doesn’t love the woman anymore, he should not forget his children. I don’t condone men who abandon their families. If you don’t want the woman anymore you can still fend for your children because they are part of you,” Commented Muwanguzi John of Mukono town. Nalongo’s story is different. She became a single mother after her husband’s death. “After his passing, I knew I had to take up both his and my responsibility to raise our children. I know if he would still be alive, he would have been proud of me,” she added. Besides, she said no man would accept to raise five children who are not his, so that she decided to remain single. She added that being a single mother is hard. You have to cover
up the man’s part and yours too. Nalongo said some women are happy being single but they don’t know the burden that comes with it, especially if one is not financially stable. She noted that some men think that once he has given money to the woman, he is taking up his responsibility.
Nalongo said one has to be physically, emotionally and financially around to complete the equation. The reason many children appreciate their mothers more is because the mothers are always there physically and emotionally. She concluded that, many men are absentee dads because women are taking care of children single-handedly, that is why many walk away from marriages. The Bible outlines, lives of single mothers like; Hagar (Gen 16:21:1- 21), Naomi (Ruth 1:14) and the widow at Zarephath (1 Kings 17:7- 24). With their divine roles, like Prophet Elijah, we pray that the single mothers may never run out of supplies (1 Kings 17:14-16)
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