Stop dictating to (pregnant) black women

Beyonce Knowles accepts the Best Urban Contemporary Album award for 'Lemonade' onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Beyonce Knowles accepts the Best Urban Contemporary Album award for 'Lemonade' onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Last year, one of my friends from home went through the unfortunate experience of losing her father.

And so we did what we always do, trek home for the funeral, to show support.

In the past couple of years, it has become very clear to us, as a group of thirtysomethings, that 'mmereko wa dipitsa' now belongs to us. Rightfully so, as our mothers are now not only old but they are tired and sickly as well.

At this funeral, though, we were told that would not be necessary, they had enough "hands".

And that is how, instead of being at the back, knives and vegetables in hand, we came to be in the front yard, part of the funeral proceedings.

It was a packed funeral and, as latecomers, we didn't get chairs to sit on, so we had to stand.

A girl we knew, who was heavily pregnant at the time, spotted her husband coming towards her with a chair, and readied herself for the relief she was sure to feel once on it, but her celebration was premature.

An elderly man assumed the young man was bringing him the chair, grabbed it and sat down.

Everyone around started to advise him of the error he had made. He did not want to give up the chair and for a while refused to get up. When he eventually did, he begrudgingly mumbled that she was not sick.

It was at this point that I decided to leave so I wouldn't start hurling insults at him and risk my poor dad's name being dragged into that mess. Because they would ask whose child I was, and the answer would have been: Mahlape's daughter. But my friend Makgano would also not have been impressed with me; she is often embarrassed by my tendency to lose it in public.

I had forgotten about this incident until this past weekend when, of all things, a white woman decided to write a "thing" about how being pregnant does not make one a goddess and how it is not a miracle.

She was saying this in reference to Beyoncé's performance while carrying twins at the Grammy's last Sunday, giving her super excitable fans licence to once more annoy us.

When I read that silly "thing" that ought to have never been published, I kept thinking back to that silly old man at the funeral.

Why is that black women are always being dictated to, by black men and the rest of the world? Don't feel this... this is more appropriate for you to feel...

It is annoying when it comes to matters like pregnancy where a man who has never been pregnant has the audacity to tell a woman to stop pretending she is sick.

Men, while they stand as witnesses, will never fully understand the miracle that is pregnancy and child birth. And before you get up on a point of order and say not all men, let me assure you right now, honourable member, that you have been recognised.

But it is especially frightening when it is other women, who have access to such big platforms, who say such nonsense.

Women do not experience pregnancy the same way. For every woman who has gone through a relatively easy pregnancy, because a pregnancy is never quite an easy thing, there is another who has gone through a life-threatening one.

I fall into the latter category; I had a very difficult pregnancy and proceeded to give birth to a preemie that needed ICU for a month. To date, it is one of the most traumatising events of my life - I call it a miracle.

That someone won't recognise it as such does not take away from my feelings about it.

Showing up for my desk job when I was pregnant was the biggest of missions for me.

I'm in awe of Beyoncé performing on a global stage with two children in her tummy. But what do I know? I am only a woman who has experienced pregnancy.

As black women we are belittled so much, often by black men - the same men who expect us to be both small and big enough to endure their abuse.

For too long we have believed what other races have said about us on their privileged platforms.

In white magazines we were told our hair, bodies, lips and everything about us wasn't good enough.

It is no wonder, then, that someone would imagine that we are getting too cocky and remind us of our place, a place with no god in it, according to them.

That boat has sailed, Becky dear.

Our very existence reminds us daily that we are godly and that we make miracles.

Mahlape is a publisher at Jacana Media.

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