Among the numerous lessons I have learnt while at Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) that I had not internalized in life is the art of giving. The introduction to feminism and the feminist world has changed my outlook towards this crucial subject. While humanity loosely views giving and brings it down to just handing out tangible things and usually those things that we do not need anymore, feminism has taught me otherwise.
AMwA under the feminism umbrella is a great place where we amplify women’s voices and messages that aren’t normally given room in mainstream media, or even in our communities and other larger spaces.
The world robbed women of their lives which feminism generously gives for example the world portrays the unconditional love of a mother as that which is completely selfless to the point of giving and draining themselves; a mother is supposed to live a life that is centered around her children and asking nothing in return from these children who are in some cases anything but unloving and spoilt. Feminist mothers like Jane Moore had this to say, “In fact we are expected to be ok with the fact that our children nurse off our bodies, play with us, and want us only for what we can give them”. This is not the giving that feminism preaches but rather giving is perceived as that which restores life, happiness, hope, love, serenity, beauty and Godliness.
Giving is so powerful and selfless because it takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the giving person for granted. The giving person is not appreciated in most times and yet she acts as a cushion for others who are in need, hurting, feeling low or depressed. This renders giving indeed a selfless act but which we tend to limit to our comfort zones and thus give when we feel we have in excess or when giving makes us happy.
It is so characteristic of people to give out what they themselves cannot use anymore like dresses that no longer fit, foods we do not consume and if its time, that which is free when we have nothing planned for it. But oops! Feminism preaches true sisterhood and the collective and implies that, you give but little when you give of your possessions but it is when you give of yourself that you truly give. For non feminists, this becomes so complicated for many to comprehend.
Giving takes the hand, heart, soul and opportunity. If nature for example has made you a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full and there will always be the opportunity, and you can actually give things which most don’t even know they posses, those warm things, kind things, sweet things, help, comfort and laughter which are but among the best gifts that one can give.
To note however is that giving is not independent but rather dependant on other factors like receiving. From a feminist perspective, I have learnt that to live a meaningful life, you have to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and embrace who you are. It starts from the heart and unless we can receive with an open heart, we're neither really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help as well. Therefore the stereotypes that have been assigned to giving in relation to a feminist’s standpoint have been rather misguided.
The art of giving is not unlike other aspects of life but a complement to life generally and women in particular. Feminists view giving as a beautiful and positive aspect to life that should yield happiness to both the giver and receiver. It should not be exploited and misinterpreted to give false fulfillment to the beholder and thanks to Akina Mama wa Afrika, I’ve gotten to comprehend this about giving.
By Ms. Sharon Katuura, Program Intern, Akina Mama wa Afrika