A tribute to my beloved mother; the ultimate mother and teacher

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My mother, Dada’s impact on me is a reflection of what womanhood means to the world. My mother did not have the opportunity to go to school, but she taught me a lot more than I could ever have learned in a classroom.

As I said during my acceptance speech, when I received the Ultimate Man of the Year Award in August, last year, and on other occasions before her death, I thank God for giving me such a wonderful mother, who taught me so much.

I am happy to share some of the many things I learned from my mother that have helped me through school, and guided me in business and in my traditional role, first as the leader of the Asogli people, and eventually, as the President of the National House of Chiefs.

I hope what I have to say will help each one of you to be able to recollect what you learned from your mother, and so have a better appreciation of what she meant to you. And I pray that my mother’s example will also guide the relationship between children and mothers.

Our Birth

My mother endured a lot, from the very beginning, so that we may live. She gave birth to me in Ho, after a long period of labour, at the Ho District Hospital. But because of complications, she was taken to Hohoe, where she had Philip, my late twin brother, at the Hohoe District Hospital.

She taught us important values

Dada ensured that my late twin brother and I received our baptism early, followed by first communion, and confirmation. She took us to church every Sunday, and through the church hymns that she was fond of singing, and her regular reference to the will of God during times of difficulty, she taught us to have faith and to trust in God.

My mother taught us the importance of hard work, and taught us to be resolutely committed to our goals. We were inspired by how she juggled her many duties daily, and how, through her commitment to her business, she brought some glamour to the palm wine trade.

She taught us to persevere and never give up on our dreams in the face of difficulty, both expected and unexpected, no matter how long. Once upon a time, the structure under which Dada sold palm wine collapsed on us during a rainstorm. That unfortunate event did not end her business. By dint of hard work, she managed to replace the structure with a better one.

Togbe Afede XIV - humansofafrica.net
Togbe Afede XIV with late mother

Dada welcomed everyone to our house, and took care of many, including her grandchildren, nieces and children of her suppliers and friends, and treated all who lived under her care as her children, without any discrimination. That and the way Dada conducted her relationship with her suppliers taught us the important virtues of selflessness, kindness, fairness and empathy, hence my belief in the saying, “Altruism is the best form of egoism”; in other words, “Selflessness is the best form of selfishness”.

Indeed, Dada’s business attracted customers of various backgrounds. She countered people of different social standings and tribal backgrounds among her customers. There were Akans, Gas, Grumas, Kabres, Kotokolis, Americans (who were here on Peace Corps mission), among others. She gave each one of them equal respect, while showing understanding of their special needs, if any.

Dada also taught us to be honest, so we would truly earn, with pride, whatever benefits we receive. She was honest, and never had disagreements with her customers, and so her business relationships turned into life-long friendships.

She also taught us obedience and humility. Those of you who knew her well would remember how she bowed like a little school girl whenever she greeted the elderly.

Dada loved to sing while she did her chores at home and while she worked in the farm. Her songs had meaning and taught wisdom, and through them, she conveyed important life lessons to us. Among her favourites, as mentioned in her biography, were: Afisi klo ku ?a la; Meble meble; N?vinyewo be nye ?la loo; Tok? de; and Woena mew? nuv?.

A lot of the things that she used to say and the songs she sang still ring in my ears today. With the benefit of hindsight, I would say she probably did all these in order to teach us so she would never have to shed tears over a wayward child, a tragedy which unfortunately befell many of our contemporaries.

It is easy for the young to think their education has made them wiser than their parents. I wish that I had listened to her more, and understood and taken more seriously some of the things she said. I would have been a much better person.

Above all, she saved my education

I almost stopped schooling after Form 1, when I had to stay home for a long period waiting for my school fees. Dada came to Accra New Town, where I was staying with my father, and on that second visit, insisted she would not leave without me, and finally took me to Kpedze to join my colleagues in Form 2. Half of the first term was gone! I recall my sympathetic late brother saying he could not endure what I was going through.

I was ashamed to arrive at school that late. But the truth was that my mother’s own circumstances were an inspiration. “Me ?ãã ?e e?uawo gble o”, she used to say, literally, “The harvest is never good where there are mouths to feed”.

It’s tough, but we shall meet at home

The past days have not been easy, and I know that some difficult days lie ahead. But taking consolation from the saying, “All shall pass”, I look forward to the day when there shall be no more sorrow or pain.

Dada, just know that you have touched so many lives during your stay with us on this earth, and for that we are forever grateful. You deserved a lot more than we offered in return. We will build monuments in your honour, so that even though you are gone, your name will never die.

Dada, I will forever salute you, because you have been all I ever needed in my life. God gave me the best mom in the world! Indeed, you came to this world, so I would also ever live. Even through your sickness and death, I learned vital lessons.

Dada, you fought a good fight, finished your course, and kept the faith. We already miss you. But, as the saying goes, “Every long journey has an end”.

So, slowly, slowly, blewuu, blewuu, we’ll meet at home.

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