Who phones Mom the most on Mother's Day?
Many offspring scattered across the globe make it a top priority to say hi to Mom on Mother’s Day. But none more so than Ghanaians living in the United States, according to a survey by an international calling services company.
VIP Communications, a US-based firm, analyzed the calling patterns of more than 30,000 expatriate customers from more than 100 countries over the past year and found that last year on Mother’s Day, phone calls increased by 40 percent compared with a normal day. The day ranked third, behind Christmas and New Year's Eve, in terms of volume of calls.
The bottom line: Africa puts the rest of the world to shame. The previous year, it was South Africans who got the award for thinking most of mom. But Ghanaians moved up to beat South Africans by 12 percent and take the No. 1 position, according to the survey, which found that the average amount of calls made by Ghanaians is 98 percent higher than it is on all other days in the year.Third place was also snapped up by Cameroon expatriates, who made 76 percent more calls than they did on an average day.
That raises a key question: do Ghanaians love their mothers more than the rest of us?
According to Mansah Prah, a feminist social scientist at the University of Cape Coast whose research focuses on gender and sexuality, Ghanaians are definitely mom’s boys and girls.
“It is because of the fact that many receive more love and care from their mothers than their fathers,” says Professor Mansah Prah. “There are many female-headed households in Ghana and many women probably do not live with their partners on a permanent basis."
“Ghanaian culture values mothers and motherhood, but women are still defined through their reproductive roles,” she adds. “It’s better to be a mother than to be unmarried, because being childless here is a very difficult situation for many women.”
Caroline Ackah has received a call from her daughter, who is a medical worker in Texas, every Mother’s Day for the past 10 years. When asked why Ghanaians are so mindful of their mothers, she replies:
“It’s because of our tradition and the closeness that when they go away from home they miss us so much. We take our children to be our property, they become part of us, we depend on them and they depend on us.”
And on whether they are momma’s boys and girls?
“They are mother’s kids, because the men leave everything in the hands of the women and they grow to know their mother’s more,” Ms. Ackah says. “Women are not that highly regarded in society, but because we brought our children up and they are enlightened, they tend to appreciate what their mothers do for them, where the men don’t as much.”
But like mothers all over the world, Ackah has experienced Mother’s Days where her five daughters failed to produce gifts, organize outing, or simply forgot.
Ghanaian comedian Nii Commey has been performing "Mommy’s Pimples and Dimples," a play he wrote for Mother’s Day that premiered at the International Women’s Forum, a four-day expo in Accra focused on women’s empowerment. The play tackles issues such as sexual harassment, domestic violence, and attitudes toward widows and women in politics, though the message is conveyed with laughter.
After performing his role as a sleazy landlord who preyed on his newly widowed tenant, Mr. Commey says in an interview that he is sorry he will not be spending more time with his mother because he has to perform two shows on Mother’s Day.
“We love our mothers generally more than we love our fathers, and even when you are independent and you are having trouble, you can always go back to your mother,” says Commey. “The African mother would die so their child could survive,” he adds solemnly.
When asked whether Ghanaians were mommy’s boys or girls, Commey paused and considered the question a little too seriously, perhaps interpreting it as a slight. He attributes the phenomenon to broken homes where fathers were absent.
While Commey will not be available all day for his mother on Mother’s Day, he says that he will offer her gifts.
“I will give her some money, she loves the money, and offer her some sweet words,” he says before getting ready for another performance of his play.
Out in the parking lot, Goldrick Thomas Agyemang, a teenager, offers some final meditations on the day and motherhood.
“Mother’s Day, I see it as being everlasting,” he says. “We should love, honor, and give respect to our mothers for everything they have done for us eternally.”