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In Response To 'Stop Glorifying Mothers'

The Moroccan players had every right to celebrate them

BY Agnes Amondi

Jan 07, 2023, 08:30 PM

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One of the most memorable images from the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar was that of the Moroccan players celebrating with their mothers after their historic win against Portugal in the quarter-finals.

It is an image that many people adored as it captured so many things - the beauty of the world’s most popular game, the exhilaration of the country and an entire continent that for the first time advanced to the semi-final of the world cup and above all, the support of a mother to a son. 

As warm and touching as those images still are, somewhere in the Netherlands, an article emerged condemning the players' celebration. The take of this piece ‘stop glorifying mothers’ was that women are always seen as mothers first before anything else which minimises all other aspects of their being.

That was certainly not the intention. It was a moment of pure joy which is why the author of the article Rosanne Hertzberger, who is a microbiologist, attracted a lot of criticism and here's why.

Culture Is Not Monolithic

As it so often happens, the west look at Africa with a Western gaze and this is one reason this article is problematic. It ignores the cultural dynamics at play. The way people view motherhood differs across cultures and that is fine. 

Honouring will be different in Morocco, Kenya and the Netherlands and that also is fine. What is not fine is to overlook and condemn other people’s cultures and ways of celebrating different aspects of their lives. Couldn’t the publication find a Moroccan to talk to for context? 

It’s not the first time we’ve seen sports stars talk highly of their families or if you like, their mothers, and this will not be the last. It is natural and if the players' mothers have no problem, why should anyone else be bothered?

There’s Nothing Wrong With Motherhood

Oh! I get it. Women are not supposed to be defined only by motherhood. It should be about their ability to build wealth, run a company or a business, negotiate and do all other things. 

I am not saying there is anything wrong with that but I have heard accomplished women say, without coercion that their families, their children and being a mother is the most important thing to them. 

They’ve described it as the most rewarding experience of their lives. They’ve said it is the one thing they’ll give up anything for. Tell you what, these realities can exist simultaneously. You can be a mother, a CEO, a businesswoman and everything else. That said, the circumstances largely determine which hat you wear.

Where Were The Fathers?

The question assumes that the fathers of the players had and are still having an easy ride while their mothers remain burdened by the duty of raising their sons. This is not true at all.

Achraf Hakimi shared his story and in it, his father contributed just as much. His parents sacrificed for him to be here. And this is the story of most of the players. Sports is largely considered a leisure activity in Africa and it takes a lot of sacrifices by families to support someone pursuing a professional career.

With this backdrop in mind, you can understand why the players adored their mothers and families the way they did. 

What Is Being Too Much Mum?

What exactly does being too much mum mean? Supporting your son during one of his biggest matches at the biggest footballing event in the world? Dancing with your son after a historic win? How did this writer exactly want the players’ mothers to be referenced? 

The other thing about the phrase 'too much mum' is that the writer said there was nothing much after that. The insinuation is that they don’t have autonomy in the sense that they have no career and aren’t independent in the way a modern woman should be. 

Well, what if some of these women are contended with their lives and cherish their mothering role? Before you say that they’ve been conditioned and succumbed to patriarchy, could you for a moment consider the idea that some probably chose to pursue motherhood and prioritise it?

Not every woman wants to climb the corporate ladder or run the next big venture in the world. Some women have other priorities that will not align with the current mainstream view and that is OK. 
I don’t think most people held this view until this article popped up. In fact, if you go through the comments below this post, a lot of people opined that the column was racist and highlighted that it reflected poorly on the writer’s childhood. I don’t know about that but how a simple celebration can be turned into an equality issue is beyond me.

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating your mother, ever!