As we grow up, we have these ideals about life. We swear “I would never do that”. Well, life, and God or whatever super power you believe in, has a sense of humour that will make you eat your words. We usually have everything planned out including how we will handle disappointments in relationships, marriages and all that. I have learnt in my two and half decades of living that it is good to be flexible and fluid.
I put up a post on my Facebook page about the pressure that Bi Mswafari puts on both genders. The response, as expected, was amazing. The commenters on my post, mostly men, shied away from the topic at hand and resorted to personal attacks. Some thought my having dreadlocks was a sign of rebellion. One commenter said that women who disagree with Bi Mswafari are the ones “who are used and dumped thoroughly”. You know the saddest thing about that statement is that the commenter is going to be, or already is, someone’s father or husband.
Before we go on, let me introduce my readers from the diaspora to Bi Mswafari. Bi (that is a very respectful Swahili term for Miss or Ma’am) Mswafari graces our screens over the weekends and offers sound pieces of advice on being proper wives to our husbands. Occasionally, she will mention in passing what it means to be a proper husband. You can watch some of her teachings here.
I want to let you in my beliefs on family a little bit…
My mother –may her soul rest in peace—was a nurse and a business woman. She was a woman way ahead of her time. My dad was a tall kind and gentle class three drop out, whose first job was being a watchman in the flower farms where we grew up. In her very old truck, mama left her clinics every evening to come see to it that she was the one to serve my daddy his meals. She was the type of woman who removed her husband’s shoes whenever he came home and asked him to tell her about what interesting thing happened in the farm that day. Originally from Tanzania, it was naturally for her to respond to my father’s call with “Naam Mume wangu” (Yes, my husband). I cannot remember a single day our very large family had tea with bread. It was always mama’s pancakes, donuts, boiled cassavas or some homemade meals. My mother also sew all of our clothes, her curtains, bedding and mats. Every end of the month, I would see her and daddy sit on the table, calculating how they would divide the responsibilities at hand. The two would ask us “Verah what is your fee this term? Your dad will shop for you and your sister, I will pay the fee. Allan, I will shop for you and daddy will pay your fees”. Yes, that is how I, and my late sister, was brought up to treat men and run a home.
Yet Rosemary Akinyi Okeyo, just as the women she brought up, suffered no fools. She did not tolerate being stepped on just because she was a woman. Anybody that dared was rightfully, and effectively, put in his/her place.
With that background, I will tell you why I have a problem with Bi Mswafari’s teaching. She does not lay the responsibility on either of the genders for the wrong things they do to their families.
Unfair to women…
I remember one day, Bi Mswafari told us that when little girls dress provocatively in the house, they tempt the man in that house to rape. And I wondered, don’t men have some restraint for themselves? Can’t they have this sort of inner dialogue: “this is a challenge that I need to work through, and decide what will be good for me and those around me?” How does raping an improperly dressed daughter, or beating a loud mouthed wife, or leaving a fat woman who has borne you children to move to a younger one going to solve the problem? She allows men to get away with so much evil because she reinforces the silly cowardly excuses those men hide behind. In this day and age, you cannot tell me that my husband will gamble away all the money we have toiled for to educate our children and then when he comes home I “Lainisha sauti yangu nyororo ili nitoe nyoka pangoni” (make my voice tender that it can call the snake out of the hole). My love, you will join the snake in that hole.
She makes women look like servants to the men they married. It is not her fault she is being abused and neglected. Haven’t we seen men who are married to Mother Teresa with bodies looking like Halle Berry and still go out to look for stinking disorderly losers who only care about how much he has made for the day and wouldn’t give a damn whether he dropped dead? Did you know studies have shown that some people just because they want to? Read this book by clinical psychologist Janis Spring. There are people who are happy at home, their wives are amazing, they just want to be assholes. Then when they are caught, being the cowards that they are, they hide behind blame games. Then the women in their lives always have to walk on eggshells, trying so hard to be the perfect human being whose mistakes can cause her to be abandoned, ridiculed, infected with some weird disease or even be killed. I am not an expert on relationships as I have failed in many myself, but I suppose the success of any marriage will require a loyalty and some sort of understanding of what the reality is.
As your wife, I work to supplement your income. The job I have may be so draining. When I come home, I have to attend to the children, make sure you are fed and your clothes are ready for tomorrow. Then maybe I am the type who worries that your mother is diabetic and cannot miss her treatments, so I have to make those phone calls and visits… where do I, pray do tell, get the extra strength to dress sexy, pole dance and sing Kumbayah for you? It therefore becomes such an unfair treatment that a man stepped out because “my wife had not time for me”
Unfair to men…
The partiachy that Bi Mswafari propagates is going to be the the downfall of men in Kenya. In fact, I feel so sorry for them when I see them nodding in agreement with her and giggling like green geckos. There is nothing wrong with a man being the head of the house. God designed it that way. However, there is everything wrong when this position is brutally rammed down our throats, demanding that a man becomes Super man when the society does not even have kryptonite. Why should a man just be an ATM machine? He cannot cry. He cannot say he is tired. He cannot express his hurts and pains.
Now there is a breed of women her in Kenya who will never work. She knows women make half of this country’s population and she sees nothing wrong with seating her ass down, to be fed, clothed, dined and wined. So the man will break her back to take care of her outragous needs and when he is not able to give to her, she will call him a dog. This woman is nice, only when there is money. For money, she will go to outrageous lengths. She will get pregnant for unavailable married or committed men and then run to the courts seeking child support. So what happens to the hustler male? You tell me. I have written those stories, where a man wakes up one day and he cannot take the pressure any more and kills all his family members. I got two brothers and two nephews who I don’t want to see go through this you-are-a-man bullshit.
Bi Mswafari has to teach women that the world has changed. Resources are scarce and they cannot dedicate their energies to reminding a grown ass man that he is super man so that they have their needs met. Men cannot also work their ass all day to take care of a grown woman with a degree sometimes. That is such an unhealthy balance. God did not create these roles so that a man abuses the woman or a woman misuses the man. Let us just see each other as a human being. This “as a wo(man)” is the cause of all these marriages breaking down all the time.
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