Monday, September 14, 2009

Of cocoa tea and cappucino

You've often heard me talk about my favourite matriarch. We are not related but she co-occupies that precious space in my heart reserved for the lineage of female wisdom keepers in our family.

She's an elder, yes, but neither aunty nor grandma would suit her, for being a matriarch is not measured by age alone. Grandmothers are warm and fuzzy and smell of cornmeal porridge and coco tea (mine did - may they rest in peace).

Matriarchs are all of that and then some! I use the term matriarch because it bestows a certain status which could be overlooked if they are slotted into the 'warm and fuzzy' recesses of our minds.

In truth, there are many matriarchs around me, including my mother. I feel a connection between my matriarchs and my inner being - a link which is commonly experienced but rarely articulated among women. The title matriarch speaks of understated grandeur. The notion of a matriarch is a ranking that has lost currency in our current day experience of womanhood.

The matrilineal society is now almost mythical, except for a few far flung places. In such communities, women hold the axis of power. Theirs was a community-based power accorded through lineage and inheritance. Much like the king or queen status, but not as individuals for there can be many matriarchs in one community.

My journey to the zone of matriarchy has helped me understand and appreciate our female elders more. Being the urban nomad that I am, my grandmothers were mostly a nostalgic reverie. As first-generation JA-Brits who grew up between the United Kingdom and Africa, our holidays 'back home' provided the all-too-rare chance to huddle up close to grandma's bosom.

The magic of her serenity and the way in which she just always knew what we needed on that deep soul level preserved grandma's image as a deliciously warming comfort.
Now, as a grown woman, scanning the contested ground of women's liberation, women's rights and issues of so-called equality, I seek the matriarch's voice. Not only as a voice of reason but as an anchor to the modern mindset.

Hers could tell us, remind us, of who women were back in the day. For now, as we navigate corridors of power in a corporate jungle, the steaming coco tea has been replaced by cappuccino.

No longer relevant
Does it mean that now we're all grown up and working, the world of our matriarchs and their deep well of wisdom are no longer relevant to our reality?

I wonder what our matriarchs would say to us and how we'd reshape our world on the backbone of their life stories? For, as we are constantly evolving and redefining our world, they, our matriarchs, could hold the keys we need to unlock our future.