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Mama

Connie De Jong adinkra ashanti ceramics mama Matamiss mother mother's day tabletop

Mama evokes strong emotions. Most of us feel strongly about the person who birthed or raised us as one of our most important relationships. Our status as mothers often helps us establish our identities in society. Motherhood tends to be understood as a state of being, but I want to write today about mothering as an action and a gift.

I believe this action is a gift that we all possess, one that we can give and receive at will. Matilda Amissah, the owner of Matamiss Enterprises in Ghana, generously offers me the gift of mothering in friendship and support on a regular basis. In Ghana, women are often called mother, simply as a recognition of experience, age or because of their relationships in the community. For me, Matamiss (as Matilda is known) offers love in friendship in a way that exemplifies the idea of Mama's care.

In a way, offering to act as a mother to someone is the simplest of gifts, one of showing unconditional love. To accept the gift of motherly love is to welcome the opportunity to offer support back, to be embraced and to accept responsibility. This interdependence is critical to our feeling of being connected and of accountability to those people we think of as family. 

Matamiss developed a collection of ceramics that uses an Adinkra symbol called "Ese Ne Tekrema," or "the teeth and the tongue." Adinkra symbols are centuries-old graphic representations of cultural values, warnings or teachings. The "teeth and the tongue," pictured here as found on www.adinkra.org, reminds us that just as our teeth and tongue depend on one another, we are meant to live in friendship and support with one another.

To me, it is apropos that Matamiss is the creator of this line that expresses that kind of support and friendship. Hers is an example that I strive to replicate.

I offer this brief story as a call to offer your mother-gift to those you call friends, a way to think about how to give and receive care with those we consider as family. May the Mother's Day holiday be about offering Mama's hospitality in a way that both accepts responsibility for our loved ones, and provides a space for that person to give that love back. May your tabletop be adorned with symbols of friendship, and may those sitting around it feel the mothering love of your heart.



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