I am thankful for my late mother who taught me that strength in a woman is not just about the physical aspect of how much work she can get done or the physique, but the mental strength and most importantly the emotional strength counts as much. She was a petite woman (initially) who as an only child between her parents was born into a male dominated family. Even though she was not able to attend school because of an aunt who felt there was no need for her to be in school and instead made her do chores, my mother was an intelligent woman who taught me how to embroider when I was aged 8 years old as I took domestic science at school. I grew up knowing that she was a strong woman but it was only later on in life when I learnt the depth and extent of her strength and she told me of the challenges she had undergone as the senior wife of my father's polygamous household of three wives! Added to this was the fact that pregnant with yours truly (her sixth) she had stood in the dock and had spent nights in the local prison as my late father had falsely accused her of stealing his service pistol! I was aged 43 when she told me of how after being "divorced" in the court, she had been transported back to her village and how her oldest brother from another father had vowed upon seeing her to return her to her husband because it was not the Ngoni tradition to divorce a woman with child. He kept his promise and 2 days later escorted her back to my father who was given a tongue-lashing about his behaviour. I was born on the 28th of July in 1964 and because she was such a traditionalist and would not want to have children from different men, stayed on in the marriage and even had 3 more children after me. My 3rd mother was actually a niece of my mother's and I don't think I would have stomached sharing a husband with a relative of mine but she was a magnanimous "Mai Guru" and she taught me that forgiveness is necessary in one's life more so as a woman. I am thankful for who she was in my life and I was able to be open about my HIV status at a time when treatment was out of reach for most people who tested HIV positive. My mother taught me to always be approachable to people because as the saying goes "Muntu ni muntu na bantu" meaning a person needs other people in life because that is just the law of the Universe. She taught us to always be hospitable to visitors, known and unknown because that was the African and Biblical way. I learnt from an early age to be a giving person because I saw how my mother would help others in so many different ways, be it clothes or food or even just taking time to listen to someone who wants a shoulder to cry on.
I will forever be thankful for Sera Tilabilenji Mzyece Banda because I am who I am today because she was my first Nubian Queen example!