Mami is a respectful title for an older woman in Sierra Leone. If I were speaking with woman that I didn’t know it would be acceptable to simply address her as ‘mami,’ much like one would address an older man as ‘pa.’ I’ve been referred to as ‘auntie’ on a number of occasions, which is a title of endearment for a younger woman. Even some of the workers in camp, who are twice my age, refer to me as ‘Auntie Kris.’
One ‘mami’ in particular has been a special friend to Alastair and a role model in the community. Mami Ami is woman from the village who is in her seventies and still walks up the hill every day to do her farming. A few days a week she drops off bananas or plantains for Alastair and I as a gift, but never asks for anything in return.
She may be small but she is a pillar of strength and example of hard work. I had been meaning to get her a gift for a while so this last trip home I bought her a colorful orange and gold threaded scarf. When she passed by camp very early this morning on her way to the bush I made sure Al and I gave it to her. It is only a meager thank you, but since women here traditionally wrap their heads in scarves I hope she likes it :)