Only in Africa

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By: Peris Wakesho, Young Champion of Maternal Health

This blog post was contributed by Peris Wakesho, one of the fifteen Young Champions of Maternal Health chosen by Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth. She will be blogging about her experience every month, and you can learn more about her, the other Young Champions, and the program here.

This is where there is so much love, the only place in the world where a sister will back a younger sister, sing to them lullabies to sleep…hmm I can hear the African sisters, noting it is by force not will. Well, yes, sometimes against our will, but what stands out is the experience, an experience that we, at our old age would die for!

Anything you need, anything you can think of, the bad and the good, the experiences that make us African, unique as they are, either worthy remembering or whether we want to forget! We are blessed and some will say, with the blessings come the curses!

I do not know what you might call this, but the photo above says so much about Africa…yes, I can feel the nostalgia, for Africans, in Africa, in the diaspora and those sharing in the spirit of Africa, in whatever corner of the globe.

Wonder where I am going with this? Yes, I know is your answer, but am just asking me so many questions…where could this continent have gone wrong? When or how, for her to bear the brunt of hunger, HIV infection, Poverty and now Maternal related deaths, infections and injuries. Home to two of the countries amongst those with the highest maternal mortality rates globally, Nigeria and Ethiopia, running second and third respectively to India in the continent of Asia!

What can we do? What are we doing? Who is or will do it? Until when and how? We have to start somewhere….as I log off, my mind fills with nostalgia. We all want the good old days and, yes, it can happen! To start with, motherhood should not be a risky business, a negotiation process that often than not leaves women scared and wanting to opt out. We can change this; we can tilt the scales towards the women’s side. And do you know what this will mean?

The African and world children will play again! The men will have hope for a brighter future, society will dance, sing and undulate at the continuation of their lineage. So let us embrace family planning, stop early marriages, end female circumcision (FGC/M), keep our girls longer in school, let our mothers and mothers to be visit the doctor at least four times during their pregnancy and for post pregnancy services, let us support our women to deliver under observation or care of a trained midwife, nurse or doctor and where possible in a health facility. Is this much? No. Not for nostalgic, life-loving Africans and citizens of the world. It is not much, but it will save our women and you know deep down, there is something you can do. So choose now and follow it through, for our children want to play, call mummy and be children. Let us give them this because we can.