Jesus clearly announced his mission by quoting from the scroll of Isaiah;
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk. 4:18-19).
The good news Jesus brings is holistic; it is not only about salvation but also freedom to the oppressed. His incarnation brought hope to all that are oppressed. He came to the Jewish society that was patriarchal but he did not support systems that oppressed women. In his words and deeds he sought to transform the culture and people’s perspectives on women. Jesus is the Liberator of Women! He liberates humanity out from devil’s lies that seek to dehumanize part of God’s creation.
Many African traditions and cultures, like any other cultures of the world, contain both positive and negative aspects. In many patriarchal societies, women have for a long time suffered discrimination and marginalization. They need liberation from oppressive forces of patriarchy.
Mother’s Day presents an opportunity not just to celebrate women in our lives but to make a resolve to fight those oppressive cultural/traditional aspects that denigrate their God-given image, value, and dignity.
Here are some of the oppressive cultural aspects that still remain a challenge in contemporary Africa:
Child marriages– Many African cultures allow girls to be married at an early age; that means they are married off without their consent or reaching an age where they can make independent choices. In many cases the fathers negotiate their marriage at a young age and once they are in their early teen-age their suitors come for them. This has resulted into girls forcefully dropping out of school for marriage. Furthermore, many girls in such marriages undergo through traumatic experiences and health complications because their body system is not fully formed to engage in sexual activities or to give birth.
Bride-price payment– This mostly plays out during marriage process and negotiations. It is recognized that when a small or no bride price is paid many can assume the woman has no worth. This is wrong cultural aspect because woman’s worth is compared to material wealth. On the other hand, when it is too high the woman can end up being enslaved because of the thinking that she was bought by the husband or sold by the father.
Polygamy (or ‘Mpango wa Kando’)– This cultural aspect that has continued to demean women’s worth. In many African societies a man can add another woman without consulting his wife. As a result women married to the same home become co-wives and in most cases the situation results to frequent conflicts between co-wives as well as their children. A lot of women in such polygamous relationships suffer greatly.
Widowhood– When women lose their husbands they undergo through untold suffering in the hands of the deceased husband. In some tribes were women inheritance is allowed, women easily become victims of deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS. The battle in such relationships is always centered on control of property of the deceased and nothing concerning the interests of the widow or the children.
Inheritances of property- Many African cultures do not privilege women to inherit property. All wealth is bequeathed to men. The rock-bottom point is, women are not accorded the same worth with men in inheriting from their parents.
Female Genital Mutilation (F.G.M.)- This is one of the greatest evils that still exists in some African societies. Female circumcision, in a way, seeks to make women sexually subordinate.
Other aspects that I may not find time to elaborate are: stigmatization of single women, unfair grounds of divorce, remarriage, wife-beating, and barrenness in women. In some cultures and marriages, the dignity of a woman is diminished when she cannot bear a child. In worst scenarios dignity can be diminished when she cannot bear a boy child
You will agree that we need to wage war against these traditional aspects and usher women into the freedom that Christ gives. In this, men should arise! #JesusLiberates