Motherhood in Nigeria: Challenges and Triumphs

Why We Should Reciprocate the Unconditional Love of Our Sweet Mothers

by Chioma Akorah
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Have you heard of the popular song by Prince Nico Mbarga titled ‘Sweet Mother?’ The song perfectly relays the love of a child for his mother as well as the trials of motherhood. It leaves one pondering the question, ‘Where would we be without our mothers?’ That’s enough food for thought.

You must admit that the unconditional love and support a mother bestows on her children is an unquantifiable blessing. Sometimes, we (the children or partners) tend to take this love for granted. We forgot that our mothers were once girls, daughters, ladies and wives with hopes and dreams. 

Anyway, in this article, we’ll be exploring the challenges and triumphs of motherhood. Make sure you stick around to digest every section. You’ll surely hold your mother in high esteem after this read. 

Major Challenges of Motherhood: The Untold Stories of Our Mothers

There was a time in the past when being a mother went hand in hand with marriage. For a woman to become a mother, she had to get married to bear children. However, that period is long gone. Except for widowhood, there has been a steady rise in single mothers, especially in Nigeria. 

According to an academic article by Ifeoma Uzoma in 2021, ‘Nigeria has one of the highest prevalence of single mothers in the world.’ This is due to causes such as sexual abuse, marital violence, separation and divorce. In the case of sexual abuse, these women were not ready to be mothers but because of religious or moral values, they had to. 

In other cases, these women went into marriage hoping for the best. They hoped for a united and caring family where they could carry out their motherly duties with support from their husbands. But due to alternating views, conflict or abuse, their hopes didn’t come to fruition.

For single mothers, life can be extremely challenging. Balancing the emotional and financial needs of a family isn’t easy, especially in this current economy. Also, there’s a stigma that comes with being a single mother in Nigeria. Our society believes that these women are loose and immoral. 

It’s appalling that their fellow women, lucky enough to be in stable marital homes, insult and stigmatize them. However, many mothers today have embraced both the hardships and the stigma. This is one of the challenges of motherhood in Nigeria. 

One existing yet unreviewed plight of motherhood in Nigeria is under-appreciation and neglect. A perfect example of this is found in Buchi Emecheta’s book, ‘The Joys of Motherhood.’ In the book, Nnu Ego the protagonist is undervalued and not appreciated. This is because society puts too much pressure on a mother to fulfil her obligations while neglecting her emotional well-being. 

Though it is her responsibility as a mother and wife to her family, that doesn’t mean her emotional distress should be forgone. It also doesn’t constitute her efforts being taken for granted. Nnu Ego, the main character, went through a lot of emotional trials and labour to fend for her children and the rest of her husband’s polygamous family. 

Yet, despite all her sacrifices, she died alone in the end, forgotten by her very own children till her death. It might not be intentional but we; children, partners and society at large never bother to consider a mother’s emotional health. When was the last time you sat down and asked your mum about her well-being and truly cared or listened? That unconditional love should be reciprocal.

Another significant plight of motherhood in Nigeria is the mortality rate of an expectant mother during the period of pregnancy and childbirth. In 2020, a report by the World Health Organization showed that a staggering amount of women died during childbirth in Nigeria. According to the report, ‘Nigeria has the second highest maternal death rate in the world.’

As of 2022, data by ‘macro trends’ puts the maternal death rate in Nigeria at 1,047 deaths in 100,000 childbirths. Has the maternity or health sector bothered to do anything about this? Are there measures put in place to save the lives of these women and their children? 

From all the above challenges, motherhood, as you can see, isn’t a walk in the park. As Nigerians would say, ‘This matter no be beans.’ But despite all these challenges, some wins come with motherhood.

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Triumphs of Motherhood in Nigeria: How it Happens

A happy mother and her kid.

A happy mother and her kid.

Motherhood has its ups and downs, especially in a country like Nigeria where the emotional well-being of a mother is overlooked. It is important to truly admire and appreciate these outstanding women. 

For mothers, there is no greater joy than the happiness and success of their children. Most women find fulfillment in the excellence of their families and they triumph through the joy. They flourish on the love, care and understanding they receive. 

This embodies the selflessness and devotion that characterizes the role of a mother. This is why we must learn to appreciate their sacrifices and hard work. The journey of a mother isn’t a path filled with roses. There will always be highs and lows. 

Being a mother is considered one of the hardest and most selfless decisions in the world. So, if you’re a mother embarking on this selfless journey, keep with you the words of Russell Ballard, ‘The joy of a mother comes in moments. There will be hard times and frustrating times. But amid the challenges, there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction.’

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Motherhood isn’t a common topic often discussed. Meanwhile, every aspect of it; from the perspective of a single mother to childbirth deserves attention and recognition. These women deserve better applause in their families and society.  

To the loving and hardworking mothers out there, learn to take things easy and acknowledge your emotions. Don’t beat yourself up while trying so hard to be perfect. Remember the words of Jill Churchill, ‘There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.’

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Edited by Priscilla Ajayi.

About Author

Chioma Akorah
Chioma Akorah
Akorah Chioma Diana is a recent graduate from the University of Lagos. A creative and content writer, her love for writing began in her Junior Secondary School when she became interested in reading.

​A 2021/2022 KANAC Creative writing winner, excerpts of her work can be found in the KANAC Anthology, Pride Magazine Nigeria, and Tush Media Magazine.

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