Roses for Mama


When I reflect and think about who a mother is, I see a myriad of images, akin to a vast garden beaming with beautiful roses. Each blossom symbolizing a cherished memory, a moment shared, or a valuable lesson learned. Amid life’s twists and turns, I carefully collect and gather these roses, each one a tribute to her unwavering love and guidance.

My rock. My mentor, and a trusted friend! Some may humorously nickname her “my mpesa queen.” 

From our first baby steps, to our first stumbling words, to bandaging scraped knees after childhood escapades to joyously celebrating every milestone. Those flying slippers, broken mwikos, and kuchunwa were her unique ways of disciplining us when we made mistakes or misbehaved. “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” she would quote from the Bible, asking, “Mbona unalia? Ni makosa ninachapa!

Speaking of the Bible, she introduced and taught me about God. We would recite verses from the Old Testament to the New, competing with my siblings to see who could remember the most from memory. Praying before meals followed suit, and although we often stumbled over the Lord’s Prayer, repeating the same lines over and over, we eventually got the hang of it.

Our educational journey began, each morning with her ensuring we got to school, our faces shining,  perhaps reflecting the brightness of our futures. From primary school to high school, the years flew by. Even when some of us went off to boarding schools, she was always present, whether through eagerly awaited letters or cherished visits. We never wanted her to leave because we were homesick.


University came and went, and when we graduated, she couldn’t wait to tell everyone, especially our shosho and the aunties in the village, to come and celebrate.

Then came our working lives, the adulting phase with eight-to-five corporate jobs. Coming home to debrief about the day’s activities became a routine. We’d share stories of colleagues who could have sent an email instead of holding a ten-minute meeting. She was my confidante, and my troubles seemed to vanish as we discussed my work experiences. Moving out felt like a big leap, a step toward independence and freedom from home. Yet, we always returned to “steal” homemade food to restock our fridges and cabinets. Leaving without something from Mama’s kitchen was simply impossible.

Conversations with Mama became our compass, guiding us through life’s challenges. Relationships, finances, faith, and investments—all were topics of our endless discussions. Her valuable advice never ran dry. Her wisdom and love remained a constant source of support and strength.

Now, as you read this, you might be at any stage of life with your mother. You could be a child, transitioning to university, a university student still living at home, or perhaps you’ve just moved out, married with your own kids, celebrating both your wife and your mother, or even waiting to start a family. No matter where you are, mothers play a crucial role in shaping your journey.

The thorns in the flowers

Mother’s Day unfolds uniquely for each individual, each thread weaving a unique story. For some, it’s a day tinged with shadows of sorrow—mothers mourning the loss of their children, children navigating the world without their mothers, and the echoes of strained relationships between mothers and children: each thorn of discord piercing the heart.

In navigating this tortuous journey of pain and sorrow, it’s often the legacy left behind that provides solace. For those who have lost their mothers, cherished memories keep their presence alive in hearts and minds. The love and lessons imparted become a guiding light, illuminating the path ahead. I recently finished reading “Roses for Mama” by Janette Oke, a poignant tale of five siblings grappling with the loss of their mother. Angela, the eldest, carries on her mother’s legacy, imparting her wisdom to her younger siblings as they grow and face life’s trials. She embodies the love and teachings of their mother, ensuring her spirit continues to guide them.

You’re my flowers. My roses. You and your brothers and sisters. You make my bouquet. And a more lovely bouquet never graced the home of any woman.” ~ Roses for Mama by Janette Oke. These words capture the essence of a mother’s enduring influence, offering a beacon of hope and love, even amid the thorns.

This was also evident as staff and students shared their tributes to their mothers to commemorate Mother’s day. (12th May 2024)


Article written by: Jemmy. M. Kamau

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