STORIES FROM NAMIBIA -AN AUSSIE’S EXPERIENCE
From our first few days in Johannesburg to our current stay in Namibia I often get called “mama” or “meme” in public places. I guess I much rather prefer that to Mrs or even worse ma’am…. but even “mama” took a while to get used to.
Yes, of course I am a proud mum and adore my girls but I am also ME and the moment you call me “mama” it makes me think “do I look old and suddenly look like a mum?”, “is it something I’m wearing?” On the same token the title comes with a sense of pride and immeasurable love. Yeap, I’m a mama…and learning to be a more confident one!
African women, especially, inspire me daily. Women here take so much pride in their appearance…it’s amazing! Whenever I finish my workout at the gym I usually tie up my sweaty hair, grab my bag, pick up the kids and go home. Yet, most of the women here bring along a whole beauty salon to the gym. I’m not joking! Make-up, straighteners, creams of all sorts…not to mention the super high heels and bling no matter what time of the day or venue. African women literally spend hours getting themselves ready for whatever they have scheduled. (talking about heels and bling and on a side note here, I just remembered the day we saw a young girl along the highway just outside Johannesburg, walking a small herd of goats in her tight jeans and 12cm heels while texting on her mobile. Now that is commitment! I wish I took a photo!)
I’d love to be able to change my hairstyle every week…. But then again I wonder if I would have the energy to do so? It’s just so easy to tie it up in a bun or a braid and forget about it. Be it the dreads, the cornrows, the braids, short, long, straight, wigs of all colours and shape – women always look immaculate. And from one week to another they can look completely different. I have to admit you could easily walk past someone you know because they suddenly look so different.
And it’s not just the hair, curves here are something to be proud of, especially if you are a “mama”. Yes, I’m sure even African women would like to “get rid” of some excess baby weight…But what I have been learning by observing so many mums here is to respect and value the changes a woman’s body goes through when you experience pregnancy. And why wouldn’t you be proud? Your body has carried, nurtured and supported the development of a human being.
I love observing people when I’m out and about. Not that it’s that easy to do it these days as I’m usually trying to pay attention to where I am going as well as watch the girls and what they are doing – but when I do get a chance…. There is something to be said about movement, posture and attitude in Africa. Motion here equals emotion, confidence, sex appeal and happiness.
It’s as if some guys have an ongoing hip hop or rap beat in their joints which just makes them move and be so cool. The girls on the other hand must visualise flashlights and
a big catwalk…
And, even though I may not have the cool hair or moves…. I am learning by observing and being inspired every day of the importance of personal presentation independent of financial background and body type. I can only hope to pass on this learning to our girls as they grow up…