Anyone growing up in Africa, particularly, West Africa in the 1970s will stop to reminisce their childhood or adolescent years upon hearing Prince Nico, as he was known, blarring on the radio. If you did not know what your mothers did to give you not just life, but a living in the hot sun of Africa, you would every now and then hear your mother singing the song to you when you came home from school. I recall even my best friend, Cynthia’s mom singing the song one day when we gathered to celebrate her birthday at her home. That memory of a mother so dedicated as I knew Cynthia’s mom, singing Prince Nico’s “Sweet Mother” to us prior to the singing of “Happy Birthday” to her daughter while we were still in high school at CWA comes back to me every time I recall my own mother, another woman who knew the very lyrics of the song when it pleased her. Prince Nico touched the hearts of mothers during that year. Now, being sung by another artist on video, I couldn’t help sharing it from Youtube when I discovered the song on my friend, Lola’s webblog. Of course, I have a copy, but I wouldn’t post it myself from the DVD, but it’s good to know that the legacy of the powerful Nigerian and African star, Prince Nico continues to influence the world, and more especially, the legacy of the African woman, the African mother, the hero of Africa still lives on in that song.
This is Mama, Hne Datedor Mary Williams who died in 2000, just eight years after that.
Here is my own mother in 1992, despite war, she stopped to pose for this photo to send it to us and her grandchildren who had just immigrated to the United States to escape the Liberian civil war in 1992.
Here is me in 1980, in college, having been shaped a bit by the old song:
The Christmas and New Year season, not to speak of the Thanksgiving American style usually brings back many sad memories, whether or not one has lost a mother or father. But this holiday season is supposed to make us merry, right? The whole idea of celebrating with huge families and friends can be depressing to immigrants who often come to the United States without their extended families, and therefore do not have huge families to gather with or cannot afford to send for extended families from their original home countries. As the holidays get closer, I often will revisit my own memories of growing up in Monrovia, the shiny holidays, the green holidays of music and flashy toys, of families who were there, but that alone is not sufficient. Today, I heard the old old song through Lola’s beautiful website, and thought hey, there is something great about memory, about the power of living to recall those who are no longer with us, about the beauty of life and art and God and everything.Many Americans who usually are used to having their mothers or fathers around during the holidays, and now no longer have them are also like many of us who have become accustomed to not having our mothers or fathers around. But memory can add to the beauty of the celebration. I know- I am going to be calling my father this week and sending him and the family my Christmas gift, which is expected, and he will tell me how much he misses me, but I will not see them and they will not see me or my children. What for me is most wonderful however, is that the story of Christmas is the same every where around the world. The good news of Christmas, the well wishing, the expectation of renewal because of the Christ child, the hope of seeing our loved ones again because of the hope that Christmas assures, and the faith of the everlasting is a great thing to hold on to whether one is in Africa now or in the US. For me, my mother’s love of God and her singing and her hope for her children are a great treasure this time of year when there is so much cold and so much spending of wealth that I don’t have. “Sweet Mother,” Prince Nico sang, “I never forget you, for de suffer wheh you suffer for me-oh.”
Early Holiday Greetings to all of my sweet readers out there. I love you.