This Mother’s Day, meet strong moms across Africa: each one a different inspiration.

A former dancer, a graduate student and single mom, a carer for vulnerable children, a housewife and a salonist: each woman in these stories is unique. What unites them is their unconditional love for their children – and the wish for a brighter future. Meet five very different moms from three countries.

Lilian Mokobi, Graduate Student, about becoming a single mother (Kenya)

Photograph and interview: Brian Otieno

“I had mixed emotions when I found out that I was pregnant. I would feel bad realizing that I was about to become a single mother. Now, I am celebrating my first Mother’s Day with my little angel. Motherhood has made me woman up and be a strong mother to my baby and other babies in the society. I want my daughter to thrive: to embrace and nurture her talents, send her to a good school, to raise her in a friendly and conducive environment. I work hard, but we also need policy improvements: access to financial support for single mothers, and no discrimination in the job market and in leadership positions.

Rose Marie Ndoye, artist, about being the mom of a rapper (Senegal)

Photograph and interview © Ricci Shryock

“People said I was letting her mess around. I said: no, she’s a rapper! I was an artist and dancer myself, I understand the power of music to convey important messages. My daughter has her dignity. She doesn’t like when people speak badly of me, and I don’t like when people speak badly of her.
I’m a bit of a hidden manager. When she has a concert, I go there with my other children. People say it’s only men who have the right to rap, but that’s not true. I love her raps about women’s and girls’ rights. When she composes a new song, she asks me what I think of it.”

Hizbalem Zurbet, Nanny, about being a mother to orphaned children (Ethiopia)

Photograph and interview: Martha Tadesse

“Being a mother to these orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children is a blessing. It takes a lot of emotions to hear about their stories and how some of the children were found. We have children with different cases, Hydrocephalus, Autism,
Epilepsy and HIV. It makes me so happy to give them love and be their safe space.”

Birke Shumet about the blessing of a caring son (Ethiopia)

Photograph and interview: Martha Tadesse 

“Ermias is a special one. He is a clever boy! He takes a good care of me. When my father passed away in the countryside, he paid for my bus ticket so I could go visit the extended family. I was touched. I won’t forget these days. One time he bought me shoes. It wasn’t a holiday, just on a random day, he walked in with new shoes on
his hand. I love him so much and I wish he can realize his dreams in the future.”

Antoinette Akinyi, Salonist, about the challenges of motherhood (Kenya)

Photograph and interview: Brian Otieno

“When I was pregnant I thought that being a mother would be simple and things would always be easy that you can control them, but it’s that phase in life that things don’t run your way, you have to run things.”

This a story of strong mothers and unconditional love. This is also a story of lack of support, social stigma and children in need.
This Mother’s Day, let’s stand right by all mothers and their families.

Tell us in the comments: Who is your heroine on Mother’s Day? How do you do right by her?

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