History is one of the most contested terrains ever. But in the end one thing is sure. It is that the men would come to knowledge, that it is the mothers, that it is the women, who have played the most sagacious roles in history, in human civilization. However, the open fact of this has largely been left unacknowledged by a male gendered prejudice.
”Every woman who has a womb is born a hero,” says Mother A’Endu. Imbedded in this saw is a fact of the immense and immeasurable pains of childbirth. And that that pain comes more intense than all the campaigns of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, put together. As if that was not enough, we may wish to recall that the pain of childbirth, is concentrated in one moment of eternity. It is in surviving that intensity of experience that perhaps confirms that our mothers are a most wonderfully made genus. Which man ever survived such as that? Alexander the Great or your great grandpapa?
And now the fraud. Because it is the men who have been authors and forgers of history, they have been indulgently revisionist and patronizing to their kind. The men have spread the rumor that heroes are by logic or overwhelming statistics, masculine. Yet, the true heroes of history, of civilization, are our mothers, are our women. From Mother A’Endu to the street-side damsel, who sells Abacha, the African salad, by Lagos byways, these women are the titans of civilization as we know it. It is just that they partake in history with the quiet footfalls of doves, as Nietzsche puts it. And it is such thoughts as Nietzsche also teaches, that guide or better give framework to the world. And these guides or frameworks are the works of these titanic women. Ours as men is to supply and fill in the details. And, as Einstein reminds us, genius belongs with the framework, not to the details. The details finally, are the works of hirelings and journeymen. In other words, built on facts, men may be taken as no more than mere historical footnotes to the epic of the mothers as civilizing agents. And the fact of this is universal.
In the European calendar, The Christian church is historically built around the righteous veneration of [a] woman – Mother Mary. And this we contend is pure genius. Of course, ”no man can adore his mother enough.” Mother A’En
Of the Islamic order – The prophet of Islam, instructively an orphan, had this to declare: Paradise lies at the foot of mothers.
Of the ancients, and their the Seven Wonders of the World, 4 were designed for or in attachment to women.
In the Indo-Chinese East, it serves well to remember that the Taj Mahal, ”the 8th Wonder,” was also built in memory and inspiration of a lost mother and wife. And of the Buddha, yet another orphan, the much he supplied the world was the meme of an all enveloping compassion. And compassion, we all know, is a franchise of the motherly, of the feminine order.
But of all the monuments to mothers, to woman, as historical colossi, the peoples who gave the most insightful variant are the Africans, nay the Igbo. The Igbo understood the paradox, of the merely seeming, not being apparent. Achebe in Things Fall Apart captures it best, so we quote the master.
”Can you tell me, Okonkwo, why it is that one of the commonest names we give our children is Nneka, or ”Mother is Supreme”? We know that a man is the head of the family and his wives do his bidding. A child belongs to its father and his family and not to its mother and her family. A man belongs to his fatherland and not to his motherland. And yet we say Nneka – ”Mother is Supreme”. Why is that?…. A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland.”
What Achebe speechifies and what the Igbo acknowledge is this: that the women, ndi ikwu nne, were the first in history to introduce, formally, the concept of insurance. Insurance is a hedge against tomorrow, against the turbulences of history and fate.
Next, let us take things to Dangote or Leo Stan Eke. Both are bold and imaginative billionaire entrepreneurs. Yet, if you audited their balance sheets you did notice something. It is that despite their famed entrepreneurial ingenuity, they hedge, they still pay insurance. Why? The point is that they want their wealth to remain sustainable. If for instance, Dangote or Eke, withheld the little penny premiums each pays today, by tomorrow the market forces may have wiped their many billions away. And next, taken together, they could become poorer than my pet lion, say.
But the dudes are market savvy enough to know, that it is insurance, not entrepreneurialism, that is the key to sustainability, and ironically, to the genius of enterprise. As the Igbo would say paradoxically, eje ana bu isi ije. Boy, it is eti okwe erie okwe.
The greater point however, is that as it is in the market plazas, so also it is in the great halls of history and in the long marches of civilization. That is on one hand, the ofo or the male element may be taken for the entrepreneurial side of human civilization and genius. On the other hand however, it’s the ogu, the regenerative order, the feminine or motherhood element, that is the insurance framework. The regenerative, the insurance order, is largely we repeat, a franchise of the female genus.
To have understood this is to have understood the true import of the lofty words of the prophet and the other memorials, enlightened men, have pledged to mothers. By paradise, the prophet wasn’t speaking of the havens in the sky. By paradise, the prophet was about the sustainability of peace and prosperity, of human triumph and communion, here on earth. That prophetic utterance is a primer, a teaching tool. Its message is that the template of making our earth a sustainable paradise of peace and prosperity, must be along the framework of sacrifice and compassion. And greatest human illustration of this is the in spirit with which mothers bear the pains of childbirth. And it is to this framework that men are called to fill in the details, that is build paradise on earth.
Implied in this prophetic commission is this. The men may have created history [its details], but would have wrecked it without the compassion of the mother principles. It is just like Okonkwo, the hero, won’t have had a second or in fact any chance at all, were it not for this mothering or insurance principle. In other words, but for mothers, civilization may have long come to an end. Man would have destroyed himself in his triumph, as Okonkwo. That is why the Igbo say Ofo, the bold, brave and righteous elements are never enough. We must tie it up with Ogu, the fecund, the female genus. So, the instrument of civilization is never ofo, it must be ofo na ogu. It is the ogu that makes the ofo sustainable. This is the iron lore, in Tokyo, Beijing or Enugu Agidi.
Finally, in civilization and in history there are only two iron lore: Obey the law and love your mother. All else is humor.
This essay is penned in the honor of late Dr. Mrs. Nnenna Ihebuzor in whose name a Foundation has been launched. An incomparable hostess, full of grace and learning, Dr. Ihebuzor is such as one that is the epitome of the mother principle. To have died so young a mother is irreparable. But God knows best. Shalom.
St Augustine’s Grammar School, Nkwerre, SAGS, Old Boys Association calling
The Saint Augustine’s Grammar School, SAGS, Nkwerre Old boys Association, SAGS-OBA, will be holding its 47th Annual National Convention. Date: Saturday November 9, 2019. Time: 10 am. Venue: SAGS Nkwerre precinct, Nkwerre Local Government, Imo State.
Signed Professor CBC Ohanuzue, KSC, National President.
And just this: SAGS is one of the first great schools in Africa to pioneer the taking of her standard from the national language – in her case Igbo. Presciently, the SAGS boys, ”old and young” are admonished Ibu anyi danda. Ibu anyi danda means and could mean several things as all deep quips do. But its unstated commission is, nothing you put your mind and sweat to is impossible. And never be fazed by your high destiny. All old boys are persuaded to make this landmark annual meet. Shalom!