Sisterhood of Angel Mama’s Magazine | Bereaved Mother’s Day Edition
Demara Dunia Mpatapo Howard
Written and Photos by Tamara Thompson
Demara Dunia Mpatapo Howard was born at Froedtert hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Sunday September 12th, 2021 to Demaryl Ramon Howard and Tamara Naomi Thompson, completing their wonderfully blended family as their 10th child.
In siblinghood, she joined Miguel Angel Ayala, Demaryl Howard Jr., Jocelyn Moore, Akil Howard, Jerry Moore III, Jordan Moore, Julius Moore, Jasmine Moore, and Sincére Howard.
Demara became the niece of Sonya Brown, Andre Howard, Eric Shaw, Daniel Thompson, B.Jeffery Thompson, and Jenelle Thompson.
Demara also became grandchild to Roberta Howard, Butchram Veasy, Abigail Israel, and Ibrahim Thompson.
In excited anticipation that their child would be a girl, her parents combined their first names to create her first name. Coincidentally they learned that “Demara” is the goddess of fertility in Celtic mythology. Dunia translates to Earth/World in Swahili. Mpatapo is a symbol image from the Adinkra (a system of symbols from Ghana in West Africa). It is meant to represent the “knot of pacification/reconciliation,” and as such it is the symbol for reconciliation, peacemaking and pacification. “Mpatapo represents the bond or knot that binds the separate parties in a dispute to a peaceful, harmonious reconciliation. It is a symbol of peacemaking after strife.”
The beginning of little Demara’s story started with soft spoken affirmations in late Fall of 2020, which led to a successful pregnancy and indescribable joy for her family. Despite complications along the way, Demara’s birthday was a true party with loving hands welcoming her EarthSide in celebration as her big brother’s music filled the air, and her Mama danced with Baba, Auntie/Doula Lyanne, and Doula Jacinta. Hers was a beautifully powerful and triumphant birth, indeed.
Baby Demara won the hearts of everyone in her family with her sweet demeanor, adorable sounds she made, her cute facial expressions, and wonderous ways she moved her little body all about. One of Demara’s first orders of business upon being born was to find her thumb soothing, which of course made the most adorable sight and sound.
Demara’s favorite things were mommy’s milk, super soft blankets, her Boppy pillow, volleyball games, mommy’s necklaces, being carried near windows on sunny days, going for walks in her stroller, watching her siblings play and dance, basketball games, and being smiled at. Demara liked being held football style most of all. Demara had a liking for baby fashion, turning heads and obtaining “Awwws” with her stunning floral headdresses. Demara also loved seeing brother Sincére dance to the ‘Baby Shark’ song, watching Stephen Universe, and posing for selfies on SnapChat with siblings.
On her 1-month birth anniversary, Demara debuted as a community activist as she attended the Wisconsin State Capitol to advocate for the passage of the Wisconsin Birth Equity Act. She impressed all the other people there which included elected legislators, community leaders, supporters, and news reporters. Her presence at the WI Birth Equity Act being introduced helped the people across the state understand the importance of welcoming newborn Wisconsinites into strong, empowered families.
On Demara’s 2-month birth anniversary, she traveled to the state of Florida to meet extended relatives and honor her Great Uncle Eddie Lee Thompson, III (also known as Bernard Joel Thompson) in memory. Demara was captivated by the sight of Magnolia tree leaves, and got to touch one with her hand while admiring decorations at Uncle Eddie’s memorial services. There, she was lovingly adored and much to her pleasure, she got to be held by aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends.
Young Demara became ill around the time of her 3-month birth anniversary with undetected disease, and her little body needed rest from fighting it, leaving everyone eternally heartbroken when she went to sleep on December 14th, 2021 and didn’t awake in the early hour on December 15th while at home with her family in Waukesha, WI.
Demara will be dearly missed by all who had the divine pleasure of meeting her in person, and people all over the country who grew to know and love her parents and siblings. Demara’s transition was preceded by her uncle Eric Eugene Shaw and her grandmother Roberta Howard. Her surviving siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends will carry her memory for the rest of their lives. In spirit Demara joins the arms of the ancestors as her Earthly body will rest in the bosom of her grandmother Roberta Howard at Graceland Cemetery in Milwaukee, WI. How meaningful it is that they will remain together.
The memory of Demara Dunia Mpatapo Howard will live on forever in a beautifully righteous infamy, charging those who are dedicated to forging more equity, rights, and quality of life for Black babies Black birthing parents to expand their activism in her honor.
Demara, your presence here on Earth changed your family and the community at large from the moment of your conception. You are a representation of all that unbridled love is and can be, and for that we say thank you. Even in this devastating time, you are bringing people together in love and support. Our hearts are eternally heavy, but your spirit is free and here with us all, guiding us in all we do.