From the Archives: "Mama" by Vida Ayitah

My Mama said to me
Go out and find a man
And bring me grandkids

I went to the marketplace
They sell everything
But no man was for sale

I took the bus
To the next town; where I heard men were in abundance
But alas! Each one was already taken

So I came home to Mama
And said: I didn’t find any man
She said I didn’t look hard enough

So I went out one night
To the nightclub; where lights go amber and glitzy
My eyes danced and danced!

So many men!
I wonder why I never came here
Why nobody told me…

So I brought the gentleman home
And gave Mama two grandkids
Which indeed made her happy

Mama said to bring her grandkids
She didn’t ask that I find true love... a nice man
Who wouldn’t leave after a few years

So many cold nights I’ve known now
So many empty mornings... spent alone in gloom
Who wants to love a dry, withered old woman
Who has two ugly bastards?

Poor Mama, who needed grandkids
And thought
Thought I met the father in a church!

Old poems at OGOV don't die, but live on in our archives! Every once in a while we will dust one off for our newer readers to enjoy. "Mama" was the second poem ever published on OGOV, on March 31st, 2007.


gamelmag said...

Short interesting and effective: addresses a critical societal issue

Darko Antwi said...


It's obvious that in the Ghanaian and the African society at large, there exist a high value for fertility and reproduction - hook or crook.

The 'value' is such that if I'm unmarried 18year old girl with 'two ugly bastards', I will be much respected to the disgrace of my elderly aunt who has no child of her own.

It could be that; that my childless aunt might have been successful in other aspects of life. She might be morally upright too. She might have made a choice not to marry - or (if married) she might be unable to conceive, or has made a decision not to bear a child.

Whatever her fate or personal choices are, the rest of the society ( or the majority of them, including the highly educated & the relgious) will consider her as cursed, illegitimate or irresponsible.

So if I happen to be an average Ghanaian mother, I will expect my matured daughter to get me a grandchild as custom demands - lest I'm reduced by my critical folks. Left to my personal fulfilment alone, a delayed grandchild wouldn't have bothered me so much. But against the pressure of my people, I will even be desperate to do the worse: arrange a marriage for my daughter who may 'seem slow' to find a husband.

Or I will press it upon her to go out in search, as the poem portrays. In such cases where I face the fiery scorns (attitudes) of my kinsmen, why would I care if she finds herself a monster or a beast. Afterall, if a mother asks her up-to age daughter to find a man, it should be seen as a vehicle of empowerment. It implies that, she should look-out for whom she loves - and can be loved by.

Darko Antwi said...


As a personal reflection, it is well-written with deep sentiment, simplicity of language and surprisingly, a mild temper.

But as a poem that serves as a protest against a norm, I am not very certain if Vida has the strength of voice that would make 'Mama' a representative of many other victims of similar plight.

Giving a couple of reasons, I think the poem has a moderate tone. And it has been rendered ineffective by upholding an affectionate placard (title): 'Mama'.

Nevertheless, Vida has some great ideas.

LS said...

Darko Antwi,

I'm interested in some of the points you raise. Could you pls elaborate on why you think the title lets down the poem?

I should think the poet could decide to set up expectations and then refuse to fulfill them, and maybe that's the point.

Mind you, I don't know this myself and don't claim to speak for her. Maybe the poem's aim is to point up the inadequacies of obeying authority. It's only a maybe.

Anonymous said...

Well Darko--being---ruthless,blunt with you think you frighten off people, poets on this site with your harsh --criticism--man your sour grapes--Amanda Accra.

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Unknown said...

I love 'Mama'. It is coy about its central angst: the struggle between what a woman wants for herself against what her society wants for her. Many women, and men for that matter, can relate to 'Mama'. It is about heeding a certain kind of advice which results in a certain kind of choice that breeds unhappiness. Vida is a poet who makes you think between the line and OGOV is blessed to have her.

With Darko Antwi, I think we have an excellent critic who assists us to write better. He knows what he wants and says it. Writers need critics and critics guide writers. In the end, our communal objective here is excellence in every poem we read.

Are mothers driving their daughters to satisfy their (the mother's) needs, regardless of whatever happens? Where is the ability of the individual to make decisions for him/herself when society places thousands of criteria in their face? 'Mama' is a poem about constant confusion about personal choice and communal interests

Edward of PathGhana said...

who can live without Mamas????

Darko Antwi said...


I find it so interesting in reading what my fellow writers have to say about every poem posted here. Within that interest I learn not to become self-opinionated. In that regard, I have bought Prince's view of 'Mama' as being 'a poem about constant confusion about personal choice and communal interest.'


L.S, you have asked a question that makes me rethink or to affirm my stance - as I was not very sure of my stance in the previous comment. Holding onto your probability (which says:'maybe the poem's aim is to point out the inadequacies of obeying authority'), It gives me the impression that the poem should have held a sarcastic title, just to make it's voice penetrative. But if it's not on a sharp attack of the system, then 'Mama' is okay ' to set up expectations and then refuse to fulfill them', like you supposedly remarked.

Darko Antwi said...


In yesterday's comment, I spoke in the voice of an average Ghanaian mum. I was trying to define her role through the 'behind scenes' images that Vida has hidden from her readers. It was just an attempt to explain why some mothers put pressure on their daughters. To have justified the actions of the average mum, would have been insensitive of me.

So, who is the average Ghanaian mum? In my understanding, the average Ghanaian mum succumbs to the dictates of society. She tows on both (straight & crook) lines of her people She's traditional: she lives in fear of the ridicule of childlessness. She feels insecure and disadvantaged even if she should adopt a child / children. Why?... because her people believe it's not 'natural enough'... they would still think of her as a wasted body of the family.

Amanda of Accra, I'm sorry if I sounded harsh or defiant in yesterday's comment.

Darko Antwi said...

Sorry L.S, I meant you 'remarked in supposition'. Just ignore my last line:'supposedly remarked'

LS said...

Come on people, Darko Antwi does not frighten anyone away. I only asked him to clarify the point he made about the poet's choice of title. He happens to have a particular perspective on this one, and that does not make him ruthless. It is what makes this site all the more interesting.

Darko Antwi, I'm really sorry for bringing you this grief. I'll post later.

Anonymous said...

Darko---regret,retract--ruthless-it was ill choosen--2 103%-the comment was written on a laptop on a crowded bus---stress I guess.My humble apologies.Amanda Accra

Anonymous said...

The whole poem is loaded with the agony of ambivalence-co-existence in one person of opposing emotional attitudes towards the same object.The essence is doubt,indecision--the struggle between the heart--to find its desire and the head to respect.follow tradition,family expectations--Silverzorro..1

Anonymous said...

Silverzorro--2--the title--is it affectionate--or ironical or with a twinge os sadness.
Last but not least saying Darko was ruthless is ruthless in its self.So Amanda get off the laptop and the bus walk and listen to the birds singing.

Darko Antwi said...


L.S, I knew you didn't mean any harm. As a retired headmistress you know how to drill with good heart, just to get motives out of pupils.

Amanda writes in the manner (style) of Silverzorro. So I thought Amanda's scold was one of his archetypal wits - until he advised Amanda to get off her laptop.

Cheers Silverzorro. Sometimes I dread if what you write comes from human. They sound so divine. They have your fingerprints on them. And very hardly would the sense in your statements be over-ruled. You may have written some stuff of rags & weeds - but that must be rare of you.

Let's shake hands Amanda. Come out always: oppose when you disagree. That's okay. Give us your own views as well.

I pay homage to Vida for being one of the leading poets who paved the way.

Anonymous said...

Well Friends,Romans,countrymen--alls well that ends well.We chewed the cud,bantered and barnied.Stirred the creative pot--S.FREUD-- said that development occurs best in a state of frustration.
SO seems all our eggs turned out sunny side up so lets all go home for a relaxing weekend to?????--MAMA.Stay blessed.Silverzorro