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Nothing like single mother

By Luke Onyekakeyah
09 August 2016   |   2:41 am
I was provoked by the story in the Punch newspaper of Friday, August 5, involving our amiable Nollywood star actress, Kate Henshaw, concerning a lady sex worker, identified as Mary, who allegedly abandoned her child Michael...
 Kate Henshaw

Kate Henshaw

I was provoked by the story in the Punch newspaper of Friday, August 5, involving our amiable Nollywood star actress, Kate Henshaw, concerning a lady sex worker, identified as Mary, who allegedly abandoned her child Michael, at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba.

Our sister Kate has been unduly traumatised for doing good to a helpless woman and her child. But there is nothing to regret about, for it is written, blessed are those who suffer for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Sister Kate should rejoice and be glad that her name is written in heaven.

I decided to take a critical look at the principal actor, in this case, Mary, who in our society, may be referred to as a “single mother.” I am nauseated, indeed, upset, by the nomenclature “single mother”, which is wrongly applied to women such as Mary, whereas, in the real sense of the word, Mary is not single; she, indeed, has partnered with four different men for whom she had four children. How then could she be said to be single?

According to the story, Kate Henshaw’s attention was drawn to the condition of the mother and her child through the social media, while they begged around the Onikan area of Lagos State. Mary’s youngest child, Michael, who she had for a Malian man, was said to have been born with a cancerous growth in the face. Cashing in on the boy’s condition, Mary was taking him to beg on the streets of Lagos.

Henshaw said she was tagged on Twitter sometime in March, 2016, and she was touched by the plight of the boy and took interest to help him. She said she asked people to find both mother and child, and after a while, they were found at Osborne, Ikoyi, a suburb of Lagos.

From there, she said someone assisted her in getting a bed space for the sick child at LUTH and both the mother and child were admitted. She reported the matter to Project Alert on Violence Against Women, a non-governmental organisation involving the Lagos State Government. But Mary was said to have initially refused to cooperate with the hospital until she was threatened with arrest.

Henshaw said the attitude of Michael’s 30-year old mother prompted a DNA test, which confirmed that she was the biological mother of the child. Mary was said to be aggressive to the nurses and other mothers in the hospital ward, to the extent that on April 24, she fought with a hospital maid and was sent out of the ward. She was re-accepted after the hospital was begged and she promised to be of good behaviour.

Furthermore, Henshaw said they visited Mary’s relatives in Irawo, Ikorodu, where they discovered that she had three other children for different men, who she left to the care of her aged mother. Then, on June 9, 2016, Mary finally abandoned her baby at the hospital absconded.

What prompted this comment is the term “single mother”, though not directly used in the story. Is it proper to call Mary a “single mother”, when in actual fact, she has a chain of partners all over the place and could even have the fifth child, and more, since she is still young? The story identified Mary as “a sex worker”, which to me, is a more appropriate classification for her kind. Does the nomenclature “single mother” make any sense?

Let’s begin by defining the terms “single” and “mother” for better understanding and appreciation. The Encarta Dictionary defines “single” to mean, one; considered individually; without spouse or partner, etc. The third meaning clearly explains the fact that a man or woman can only be appropriately called single if he/she has no spouse or partner. In marital classification, a woman can only claim to be single if, truly, she has no spouse or partner, meaning, that she is available for marriage. In biblical times, such a single girl would be a virgin, pure and undefiled. Viewed from this angle, no woman is single if she has had a child. Referring to a woman who has chain of failed spouses and or partners all over the place as “single mother” is a misnomer. It is totally incorrect to do that anywhere in the world.

This position would further be strengthened with the definition of mother. The same Encarta Dictionary defines “mother” as female parent – a woman who has a child; also, a woman acting as parent of a child to whom she has not given birth to. Whereas, the first woman who has born a child cannot be rightly called a single mother, even, if she is living without a spouse or partner; only a woman acting as parent to a child whom she has not given birth to could be rightfully called a single mother, if she has never had a spouse or partner.

Based on the foregoing, there is nothing like single mother among the host of women/ladies who never married officially but have children from men of their choice. The fact that a woman has given birth to children means she has had a spouse or partner. And, quite often, those partners are very much around the corner still “servicing” the so-called “single mothers.”

I would like to clarify that a divorced or separated lady is not in this category. Such ladies are recognised by society as divorced or separated. But as for the free women who prefer not to get married but would like to have children from any man of their choice, they are better referred to as ‘unclassified mother. ’ This is a better nomenclature under marital status than free woman, which might be offensive.

As civilisation goes haywire under the post modernisation information age, age-long cherished family values are discarded. Today, there are no less than eight gender classifications over and above the traditional male and female genders. We now have lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (transsexual) (LGBT) subcultures. A man who has changed his sex to a woman might have a child and would like to be addressed as “single mother”!

As lots of women and even men would prefer to have children without getting married in the traditional way, it is important to understand that none of these people can rightly be called “single mother” or “single father”, so long as they have had a spouse or partner.

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