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LOUD WHISPERS: A Mother’s Lamentation

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Friday, September 22nd, 2023

                                  (For Modupe Deborah Atanda)

Ikunle Abiyamo (The kneeling of the mother)

That is what the Yorubas call it when women prepare to give birth

It can be literal or figurative

Whether the birth takes place as you push on your knees yelling yourself hoarse

Or you lie with your feet spread wide apart

while a new being almost splits you apart as it struggles to take its place in the world

Or it happens when a surgical blade pierces your abdomen

Leaving you with a scar that will never fade

The task is the same

The results are the same

Ikunle Abiyamo

It is a prayer

That all will go well and the labour will not be in vain

It is about the anticipation of life and the possibility of death

It is a reminder

That mother’s life is at risk and she is at the mercy of divine powers

It is the understanding that the screaming child that arrives

 with face scrunched and indignant about the uncomfortable change of address

Never gets to be placed in her arms in her lifetime with eyes closed and body cold

She never, ever gets to see or know the grave of this precious gift

that would be an abomination

Ikunle Abiyamo

It is a task that never ends

Feeding, clothing, praying, washing, ironing,

 soothing, teaching, admonishing,

smacking, ignoring, sewing, treating,

laughing, crying, guiding, dancing

There is never any rest for an Abiyamo

Yet, even though there might be grumbles and mumbles

All things are done with joy and love

That is what she lives for

In her old age, she gets to reap the fruit of her many labours

Ikunle Abiyamo

It is a memory

That will stay with her all the days of her life

She will remember as she ties her wrapper to celebrate the victories of her children

She will remind God Almighty of his promises as she goes on her knees

to intercede on their behalf

It will be thought of when she is pleased

It will be used to score points whenever she is displeased

Ikunle Abiyamo

She receives, but does not require praise

She is told, but does not need Thank You

She is given gifts, but that is not all she longs for

All she needs is what she tells you from 3, 13 to 30 years of age

Work hard’, ‘Study’, ‘Do well’, ‘Be somebody’

That is all she wants, that is what she lives for

Ha! Ikunle Abiyamo O!

That is what we say when we do not know what to say

When we tremble in fear

When sorrow brings us to our knees

When we become nothing

When we know nothing

When all dreams evaporate

When all hopes are shattered

When our daylight suddenly becomes darkness

When there are no words to describe our shock, pain, anger

What do you tell a mother when her child has been taken from her?

What words do you use to console a father

whose pride and joy was found placed in a shallow grave?

Ikunle Abiyamo O!

For how long are we going to mourn our daughters?

Then, it was Uwaila Omozua at University of Benin

Raped and murdered in school

So many before her and many more after

And now, Modupe Deborah Atanda, Federal University of Oye, Ekiti

Ikunle Abiyamo

Even the shameless devil should be ashamed of his spawn

Those who did this forgot that they too were born from a woman on her knees

Now they have brought misfortune on their heads for generations to come

It is no curse, it is a fact

No parent deserves to bury a child

No mother’s labour pains should be in vain

Those who derive joy in cutting down sons and daughters before their time

Should remember that a woman somewhere

went on her knees to bring forth a life that they have no right to take

No father should have his joy destroyed

Ikunle Abiyamo

It is a hope

That there will be justice

That there will be a reckoning

That days of sorrow and mourning will be far apart and not back-to-back

That light will always prevail over darkness

That the blood and sweat of parents will not be repaid with everlasting pain

Ikunle Abiyamo O!

May we never witness the striking down of our offspring

May the parents of the departed be comforted

May the wicked get their comeuppance a hundred fold

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of, an online community for women. She can be reached at

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