Five Writers Dispatch Five Billets-Doux for Their Mothers on This Mothers Day

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To celebrate mothers in a special way, we invited writers to do what they do best—write. This time, to their mothers. Five of them stepped up to the plate and wrote love-laved letters and odes to their mothers, appreciating them, expressing love to them, and thanking them. The five writers are: Dorine Kanaiza, Ron Barasa, Munira Hussein, Lesalon Kasaine, and Sahara Abdi. We compiled the tiny letters in this article. Strap in for a beautiful, emotional ride like no other. This one is for our mothers, with love.


A note of gratitude to you, mother

By Dorine Kanaiza

Dear mum,

My words of gratitude to you cannot fit in a paragraph, not even a book. Today is among the many days I will forever be grateful to you.

When I was a little girl, I was determined to work hard, become a doctor, and provide you with everything you ever wanted. You reminded me that I should do what is best for me, not for you. Your predictions have come true twenty-five years later. Right from birth, you gave me a canvas and let me paint my own identity.

You are my greatest cheerleader. You have encouraged me to carry on when I thought I had lost it all. You’ve had faith in me since I was a baby—fresh from the womb. I weighed 1.5 kgs. I was so tiny that I could hardly fill one arm. Your in-laws were unhappy. Other babies in the home were fat, but me. Were you not feeding while you were pregnant with me mum?

You chose to stay with us when you could have left. I mean, you had every reason to. Your endurance is sometimes a source of strength for me. Perhaps you've forgotten the difficult times because you're good at suppressing your pain. Remember the night you were fired? Whitney was only two weeks old at the time. She was so tiny and noisy. The little thing didn't realize you didn't have a job, or that she'd probably have nothing to suckle. But guess what? We made it through that night, as well as many others that followed and will follow. You've taught me resilience!

I have learnt so many lessons from you mum. I still do. You have taught me that when passion meets excellence, success is guaranteed. You’ve made me believe that whoever seeks growth every day, grows every day. You have taught me to be patient and kind and visionary and smart.

I feel blessed to call you mother.

Happy mother’s day mum.

Your big baby,



Of selflessness and heart: Lessons from my mother

By Ron Barasa

I think my best form of self-love is cooking for myself. Whenever I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall, I appease my spirit with a savoury dish. I don’t know why it always works, but it does. And yes, my mum taught me everything I know about cooking. It’s how we bonded. But I mostly did the dirty job. I did all the crying cutting the onions and lighting our charcoal jiko. She was the master and I the involuntary apprentice.

She also taught me how to make lemonade whenever life threw lemons at me. I sometimes dread the chapters of my life that may not include this super-woman.  I nearly lost her once. She was involved in a grisly road accident some 15 years ago. It sometimes feels like it happened in a previous lifetime. The gaping hole she nearly left in our lives shook our small family to the core. A lot of people lost their lives in the accident, her only sister included. Her survival made me both grateful and paranoid. Grateful because she could’ve easily been one of those that lost their lives but paranoid because I now understood how fast and drastic changes in life could be.

Her journey to recovery was nothing short of a miracle. I probably shouldn’t be writing to a mother that’s healthy and well today. But fate had it different.  I laugh whenever she freaks out because I’m down with the flu or something; if only she knew the punishment I’d taken because of the lessons I learnt by watching her fight to stay alive in that hospital bed. Mothers are cut from a different type of cloth, none of us would be what we are without their selfless love. They deserve the world and more. Happy Mother’s Day to all mums! You truly are God’s gift to humanity.


She pieced me together so I could embody magnified womanhood

By Munira Hussein

For a long time, I thought the things I needed to thank my mother for were encapsulated in raising us. Like cooking, cleaning, and taking us to the doctor. But now I realize how much I actually saw her. Everything she didn't do or say taught me a lot more. She persisted with her own education at any cost because she knew she needed it. How she was doing everything that needed to be done and then some more, and how I look back on that now and think we all deserve a little rest now and then.

Our mothers, or at least most of them, became a silent film that we observe and interpret because most of them grew up under a circumstance very different from ours. Somehow, they made it work, pieced us and our lives together so we can embody magnified womanhood.

I hope this THANK YOU encompasses everything you did for us, mother. The things we know about and the things we will never know about, who you are, your hopes and dreams. I hope that in some way, you found fulfilment and I pray that you keep finding it.

A Happy Mother’s Day to my mother, my grandmother, and all the mothers who hold us up through generations.


Mother, the thread running through my life

By Lesalon Kasaine

It’s not the first time I am writing about my mother, Ruth, and I promise you it isn’t the last, either.

In 2011, I was expelled from high school after masterminding a strike. That was after I had been to two schools prior, and at each, gotten neck deep into trouble and shown the gate. But she never gave up on me, my mother, even when everyone else thought my game was over. Yes, she raged, berated, and punished me, but before the sun lowered on the westernmost horizon, she was always my mother—praying for me, making pancakes for me, counselling me, and loving me in ways I had never been loved before.

The errant hellion others saw and othered was her son—and true to her dream, like the mythical Phoenix I rose from the ashes to become a man society admires. I regained my composure, swept up the shattered pieces, and returned to school. Excelled. I enrolled in university. Excelled. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Ruth is my friend, my support system when everything and everyone else is against me, and today—the woman I am writing about. I’ve written poems for her (I read out one to her during my book launch at Marble Arch Hotel in 2017) and I will write more for her. My superwoman.

She plays the flute for me when I go home. This old yellow flute was given to her by her music teacher back in the late 1970s or early 1980s when she lived at AIC Siyapei Children’s Home. The flute lives on and will live on as a family heirloom. Whenever she closes her eyes and breathes into it to play me a tune; and the tune spirals and hovers throughout the house, I wish for nothing more. A single mother who crocheted me into the man I am today. The thread running through my life. My love and support, whether I am cresting uphill or dipping downhill. To Ruth and to all the mothers giving a lot to raise a generation of great men and women, happy Mothers’ Day!


Mother, the backbone of families

By Sahara Abdi

It's a beautiful Sunday, the 8th of May. A special day for special humans, who not only bring forth lives but also nurture with their all for the better of humanity. Mothers.

In my language, we call mother hooyo, and hooy, which is the root word for 'home'. We have a saying that goes 'hooyo laan waa hooy laan'. It translates: to be without a mother is to be without a home.

Thank you, mother.

For believing in my decisions, cheering me on, and holding my hand throughout my life. For carrying my schoolbag while walking me to school at 6 a.m. For teaching me to sleep with a calm heart, to always forgive, and to always help with everything I have. Because you call me Sowda. For your sweet Anjera, and all the soul-filled meals you prepare for us. I'll never be able to say enough nice things about you. Thank you for all of your efforts.

I celebrate you today and always, Fatuma, my beloved mother.

I think of my pastoralist mothers, the excluded women deep in the hinterlands, and everything they do to improve the lives of their families. Refugee mothers in settlement areas, as well as all mothers who are unaware that they are being honoured today. One day will never be enough to honour your responsibilities. But today is your day, and I celebrate you for your courage, resilience, love, and beauty.

Also read: Mum, Who Is Your Favourite Child?