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7 Reasons Why African Village Women Back Their Babies

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 3


Woman Carrying Baby
Africa, women are laden primarily with the task of taking care of the home and raising their children. These roles are quite challenging as there are little or no social amenities and everything has to be done by direct labour.

A typical day of an African woman starts very early in the morning. She wakes up from a mat spread on the floor, folds it and picks up a broom (the broom was hand made from the stem of palm fronds) to sweep the whole house and the surrounding compound. After this she goes to the stream in the company of other women which is usually some kilometers from her house with an earthen pot on her head to fetch water for the household. This time creates an opportunity for the women especially the maidens to talk and gossip about latest happenings in the village.

For others who have fetched water previously, the evening before, they move on to other house chores like washing the dishes. There were no sinks nor running water, so she had to wash them outside. After this she prepares breakfast for the family. She had to do the cooking using fire, wood and earthen cooking pots. Usually, cooking for the typical African woman was not so easy, as she had to fan the flames to fire. Cooking too could entail pounding yam, using mortar and pestle, which is usually strenuous.

In Africa, most dishes were not complete without chili pepper. What this means is that the woman has to grind the pepper on a specially carved flat stone. Palm oil, another important ingredient in African dishes has to be produced manually. For most of these women, they also had to go to the farm as every household had a farm land to cultivate.

Other household activities varied from one day to another ranging from peeling cassava and soaking, grinding and frying it to make "Garri" one of the Yoruba's common delicacies. Sometimes, she has to smoke the fishes caught since there are no refrigerators for preserving them. Other times she is seen washing clothes at the stream. She has to fetch firewood for cooking in the nearby farm.

Since she is sorely responsible for taking care of the children and there are no toys or crèche to take the children to, her babies have to constantly be under her guide. There were no televisions, not to talk of Barney or cartoons to keep the children busy and her house hold chores had to be done, there has to be a way of combining the two. The traditional African woman and mother came up with backing their babies. This is a convenient way of bonding, keeping the child from wandering out of sight into danger and still be up and doing with her multitasking job as wife, mother, manufacturer, caretaker, house keeper, cook, small skill business entrepreneur, nurse, teacher, seamstress, gardener and any and everything as occasions demand. No wonder, the African woman prefers backing her baby any day, any time.

Babies are backed in Africa by strapping the baby on the back, with the baby's face to his mother's back, a wrapper tied firmly around the mother and child and another smaller, thicker cloth tied around the child's buttocks and his mum's waist called "Oja" in Yoruba. The baby is firmly strapped unto his mum's back and may remain there for hours without the baby falling off.

Below are some other 7 reasons:

1. African women attach pride and great joy going about everywhere with their babies on their backs.

2. To them it is more convenient than any other method of carrying a baby.

3. A woman with a baby on her back is believed to be respected more than one without. It is even said that some women at certain child bearing age borrow babies to back especially when going for an outing as part of their uniform.

4. African women believe keeping their babies on their backs keep them warm and healthy.

5. They believe labouring over their babies by carrying them on their backs for over two years makes them indebted to their mothers for life, take good care of them at old age and respect them.

6. African women believe it is an essential part of proper motherhood. It is part of what makes you an African woman - strong back bones.

7. African women believe it is part of the rich heritage and culture of the Africans and it must be preserved. That is why even in modern Africa we still see women backing their babies.



Jan 24, 2011 8:52pm
wonderful, informative article....!
Jan 25, 2011 1:06am
Thanks, Vanetia
Dec 10, 2011 11:29am
Great, I was once told it was because they did not want to become to attached to their children so they carried them on their backs to disassociate themselves from them.... I realized how rediculous this was when I had my own children. All of whom I wore/wear on my back.
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