They say you can leave Africa, but Africa will never leave you.
I grew up in Africa. 9 years of my childhood was spent in that beautiful land which has very much defined and influenced the person I am today. I remember watching women carry babies on their backs with beautifully patterned chitenges, while balancing buckets of water or wood on their heads. All while looking as graceful and calm as a mother can be. Those are the images that I remember now as a mother myself.
I am also Peruvian. My daughter calls me Mamá, I sing “Los Pollitos Dicen” to my children before bed, and make Lomo Saltado and Ají de Gallina as regular meals in my house.
I am a Peruvian woman, who grew up in Africa, raising a Canadian daughter, while speaking to her in Spanish and carrying her in a chitenge.
As her mother, I have a responsibility and privilege to introduce her to the culture before her; through the foods I offer her, the songs we sing, the books we read, and the language I speak to her in – the language of her maternal grandmothers, and their grandmothers, and many generations before them. In all that, I give her a sense of identity, and a feeling that she belongs to the world… to many parts of it.
As I carry my children in either in a Malawian chitenge or a Peruvian manta, I can only hope that through the culture of my motherhood, I am teaching them that they are part of many things. Part of many histories and practices before them, and hoping they feel a part of all of them, and love them as much as I do.