The trouble with marriage
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- Zimbabwe: a nation of dealers
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WHAT a storm did I kick up with the article on marriage! I really did not know how strongly some people felt about the subject. And “strongly” is an understatement. They really came out of the woodwork with the most graphic among them telling me where to put my opinion.
There were divorcees from both sides of the gender divide, bachelors and spinsters, mothers and fathers in law and a sprinkling from the feminist fraternity. As for New Zimbabwe.com editor Mduduzi Mathuthu, the subject of the article, he says that I put him off the idea of getting married … for good!
Reluctant to react to verbiage bordering on slander, I sometimes feel its pertinent that one sets the record straight. For one, I have been “happily” (read ‘continuously’) married for 15 years, so that makes me something of an expert on marital issues due to experience.
We have sired a brood of four boys, the eldest apart from being as tall as a door frame, is struggling with being a teenager. The youngest is terrorising me as I type this article having reached that stage of development called the terrible twos.
I can’t claim that my family is perfect. There is none that I know of that is, except perhaps the fictional Brady Brunch if you were born in the Bronze Age like some of us. At best, we are the quintessential dysfunctional family, a half better than the Simpsons perhaps.
I can’t say that I stand by most of what I wrote, I just passed it on so do not shoot the messenger for being the bearer of bad news. I guess that is the curse that journalists have to live with.
The diversity of views about the institution of marriage shows just how complicated it is. One reader, who is no doubt a Christian who turns to the Holy Book , pointed out Ephesians 5 verse 31 to me and I quote: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
No sooner had I finished reading his justification for marital union had another brother fished out Proverbs 18 verse 22: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour from the Lord.”
But then my good friend Themba Moyo was quick to point out that, “it is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with an angry woman.” (Proverbs 21 verse 9).
It seemed that this aspect dominated most of those who regret getting married. I thought that many a proud male would not reveal the fact that they were being dominated in the home but I was wrong.
The so-called petticoat government does exist, albeit in subtle form in some cases. A lot of men find themselves trapped in a marriage made in hell itself. Their wives use every form of subterfuge even to the extent of withholding conjugal privileges! No wonder the residences of women of easy virtue have been kept busy for ages.
One or two cases even hinted at being used as punch bags once in a while, not that they did not bring it onto themselves. Men can be a nuisance sometimes, if you get what I mean.
There was one interesting contribution (I think she represented quite a number) saying that she could do without a man. Yet somewhere along her diatribe, she hinted that she had a son. By who, I wondered? I do not think that the cost of artificial insemination has plunged to that of dentistry to be so readily available.
Anyway, I live in a country where there is an outbreak of single mothers. It’s so fashionable so much that being married sounds a novelty. But again look at Botswana’s statistics when it comes to the prevalence of HIV and AIDS.
Before I kick off another furore, I am not implying that being in a marriage guarantees immunity. Far from it! It’s just that certain social norms tend to encourage promiscuity at a time when abstaining is encouraged. It’s a fact that if you let your guard down in these parts, you might as well kiss your backside goodbye. Foreigners are not eligible for free ARVs by the way, so no matter how angelic the women may look, as I used to say, tshi-tshi nana, sugar mama!
Bachelors or spinsters face a dilemma that we have all known too well. Peer pressure tells them that they are way past marrying age, especially the women. The clever ones fall pregnant at the hint of financial security. Some of them do not know that men can be good actors.
At university, this seemed to be the ticket to a blissful marriage, only for them to discover that all that the magazines told them about being hitched wasn’t really true. Before I offend more of you, I will cut a long story short.
Who is the most corrupt of them all?
Someone wrote somewhere that a government that created a ministry to counter corruption was only doing so to cover up. Zaire (now DR Congo) actually had a minister in charge of corruption.
In Zaire, corruption was an accepted fact of existence so much so bus drivers would pass a hat among the passengers so that they would not be any delays at the plethora of roadblocks on the way to the city.
The World Bank had to take over the running of that country’s central bank in order to ensure that the little revenue that trickled into the fiscus would be re-directed from Mobutu Sese Seko and his cronies’ pockets.
The story has a familiar ring to it. A certain southern African country did form a Ministry of Anti-Corruption and an anti-corruption commission to boot. Up until today, I am yet to hear what success these two contraptions scored apart from exposing the dubious credentials of the minister in charge.
But telling Zimbabweans that they are the most corrupt would elicit loud wails of denial. Events of the past few weeks illustrate my point. Whether or not some cabinet ministers who have been labelled as corrupt is part of the usual political subterfuge, the very fact that they have been accused of the act is enough to taint their CVs.
Many would rather point to a certain West African country when it comes to levels of dishonesty. If you have lived in Zimbabwe at the height of the Great Deception, you would revisit that perception.
People, or to put it more plainly, we were forced by circumstances to do things your mother wouldn’t even imagine you could do to survive. Conmen grew on trees during that time which reminds me of a story that happened during one Trade Fair.
A businessman from Europe is approached by a shadowy character who wants to sell him something.
“Excuse me, sir, my mother is very ill and I have something here that you might be interested in buying. I have Cecil John Rhodes’ skull and it’s priceless!”
The visitor is taken in by the offer and buys the skull.
A year later, the businessman meets the same guy selling the same story.
“But you sold me Rhodes’ skull last year?” he says.
Not batting an eyelid, the guy replies, “But that was Cecil Rhodes as an adult. This one is Cecil John Rhodes as a kid!”