Motherhood is often defined as an automatic set of feelings and behaviors that is switched on by pregnancy and the birth of the baby, it is also seen as moral transformation whereby a woman comes to terms with being different in that she ceases to be an autonomous individual because she is one way or the other attached to another her baby.( Motherhood in African Literature and Culture.” CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 13.1 (2011): The identity of a woman is formed in relation to the values, meanings and symbols of her society. Her ‘self ‘is affected by the cultural world outside. The meanings and values of the cultural society are internalised.The ideology of motherhood differs according to the socio-cultural context, ethnicity, and class. Motherhood has connotations of respect and power. Real-life mothers are respected to a very limited extent, and that respect is usually for mothers of sons.Makinde’s. (2006:61).Motherhood is only defining aspects of womanhood in African societies, it is true as it is acknowledged and practiced in Africa by religious traditions and local ore and it is coloured with examples of self-sacrifice in the name of motherhood. The idea of self-sacrifice highlights the importance of motherhood in African society in some quarters is seen as scared and powerful spiritual path for a woman to take. The essay will be about motherhood as defining aspects of a true womanhood in African societies and to show people that being a woman does not come along with a name but by actions and your behavior, how you behave in your society
Some may argue that motherhood In African society is not a defining aspects of a true womanhood by being a mother does not define you of being a true woman just because you cannot bear children you are a woman indeed regardless of being a burden or not .However motherhood is enfolded in many cultural and religious meanings, cultural as in what the society thinks a mother should be, that is, and some elements associated with a mother and religiously it is what the practiced faith of a particular society attaches to motherhood .Motherhood gives a woman dignity and reputation within the society(winge’s 2002:64)This cannot go on any longer as the role of women in many societies has changed dramatically over centuries, from overpowering of ancient Greece to the relative freedom of women living in Medieval France. The treatment of women has also differed from civilization to civilization even at the same period in history. Some societies such as Islamic ones have treated women much like property, while others like ancient Egypt have allowed women to have great influence and power. Walter, T. 2009. Motherhood in African society: 26, 2 Mar .Motherhood in African society undertakes different names and shapes on the society, a woman without a child is viewed as a waste to herself, her husband and to the society as a whole, this holds true for most women in Africa where the index of motherhood is used to define ‘real’ women or responsible woman. Although factual principles are rooted and valorized in all cultures, male societies present woman’s central purpose to be her reproductive function and so motherhood and mothering become tangled with issues of a woman’s identity, no matter the skills therefore there powers, rights and entitlements that come with motherhood even in the act of giving birth.
It is clear that the nature of motherhood for African women is relevant to understanding black family life. In the African traditional society the concept of ‘woman” and ‘womanhood’ is viewed with a high level of seriousness and responsibility. A young girl that attains the age of puberty is seen as a woman and that level she begins to be groomed for the higher responsibilities ahead of her. She is given lessons on social etiquette, wifely duties on how to serve her husband and everything that defines her womanhood. These lessons do not exclude her responsibility to the society. It might be argued that times have changed since a lot of women prefer to be independent, by looking back black women struggled for freedom in a society that viewed women as slaves In surviving, many endured slavery, learned the cultural ethos, and recognized the value in changing their lives in preparation for better future. But then the traditional African society is one that enthrones the woman to a level of reverence. When important decisions are to be taken in society, the opinion of the women must be obtained. In some cases the women are sent on serious missions to bring peace, consult in order to solve a pressing situation. Women are indispensable not because of their ability to bear children but because the society recognize then as valuable and the women themselves know their worth it clearly show that they are no longer looking at the back but going forward as it is realized that a mother is strong, valuable, true, central to a child’s existence and that motherhood is not always as smooth as it may seems in that it is also self-denying the desires and talents of a woman, her primary function is that of motherhood particularly in African society.(as cited in Robertson &mitchell,2000, p 155)
The concept of ‘womanhood’ is focused at moving the African woman back to her place of importance in the society, her experience during the modern period has made the African woman to be more alive to situations around her. The traditional image of African womanhood shows that she is a nurturer of life and contributes to her society. On the place of culture and religion women play their roles and they are highly valued and estimated by their husbands for what they can extract thought their wives in terms of agricultural benefits and not what they are in themselves. The society is structured in such way that man and his wife team together to build their home the women do not lose sense of value because of their role in the society. The society shows the recognition of the centrality of motherhood, an acceptance of the interconnectedness of African woman and humanity, awareness of the spiritual and moral grounding and commitment to the beauty and strength of the African woman’s body mind and soul. Motherhood is one of the major roles of a woman in society it is seen as to be positively important in African traditional societies, since women consider their reproductive capacity as their source of power which defines their identity and status. Makinde’s (2004:164) study of the Yoruba culture in Nigeria supports Widge’s (2002:164) findings that motherhood gives a woman status within society.
It can be concluded that motherhood in African society is seen as a God-giving role for this reason it is blessed, they way and manner societies conceptualize motherhood in a way has come to appreciation of general request because it is seen as a symbol of the national-state. Motherhood is vital but it should not be all that the women is made for it, it should be a matter of choice as some women would rather not experience motherhood, if it is a choice then it might save the woman some troubles in society men may rule the world, but women rule the men who rule the world.