Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA)

Feminist Leadership Development

I loved the recently just ended Olympics and the most interesting sport for me was synchronised swimming; I watched these swimmers perform their elaborate routines (with music playing in the background) and I thought to myself I must learn how to swim so that I can pull one of those moves

Perhaps I got my motivation from the wrong place! Anyhow after that, each time I took my son for his Saturday swim I reminded myself that I had to learn to swim, but like we all do, it is not until something out of the ordinary happens that you are able to push yourself and take the bold move.

This one Saturday, I took along my neighbor’s daughter, a very pretty two year old girl, and while trying to run around the pool she fell in. I do not know how I gathered the strength to jump into the pool after her or how I was able to get her out but you must believe me, I did. Up until that day the closest I had come to swimming was hours of television while I admired the Olympians and perhaps cheering my son but from a comfortable distance. That day as the little girl cried while I held her as close as I could, I wanted to punch myself for being 30 and not being able to swim, I was so mad at myself for pushing it to next month, every month. I saved the girl even when I couldn’t swim but it was clear what I had to do.

I signed up for their next adult swimming class. I obviously had concerns like what my swimming costume would look like; needing to take my lessons when the pool was empty without experts looking at me and wondering which planet I have been living on. I was on time for my first class and of course I had gone shopping from the swimming goggles to the swimming cap and I thought I would go home that afternoon able to perform one of the routines I had watched during the Olympics.

I must have the record for taking the longest in the changing room because after I had on my costume I saw the notice on the door that asked everyone to take a shower before their swim so I had to oblige - you know being new and all you don’t want the coach to have to send you back. The Coach gave me a pep talk before we could enter the pool but the whole time I was thinking let’s get over with this I know what to do-I watched the Olympics! The most shocking thing for me when I entered the pool was that I couldn’t even walk across. It is something you have to experience, the shock that you even have to relearn how to breathe! I held the coach so tight and in that moment all I could think about is how frightened that little girl must have been and I reminded myself of how constantly I tell my son to keep his mouth shut and blow bubbles. I thanked God for the millionth time that I had not brought him along because no child should have to watch their mother cry for help, gasping for air and consuming liters of chlorinated water.

The first lesson was the most embarrassing time of my life. It has been 2 months and 14 days since that day and I still remember the feeling of breathing in water through the nose every time I am taking a shower. I am yet to call up my coach and make an appointment for the second class!

By Ms. Rose Kabagambe,
Human Resource Intern, Akina Mama wa Afrika