Men's say with Bob G. Kisiki
YOU know it is not even intelligent knowing that we are a product of where we have passed — ethnic background, clan, family, school and so on.
Yes, even the times we have grown up in contribute to what we become. So it should come as no shock to any woman that society, which is largely filled with women but dominated by men, still has issues with relations between men and women.
Even the most educated, liberated and emancipated woman can still fall to the leadings of certain cultural forces, which determine what kind of product she will be when she gets (or is got by) a man. Take the ssenga bandwagon, for instance.
Whether a girl grew up in the ancient past or is as contemporary as they come, the ssenga phenomenon is a present reality in many a girl’s make-up.
The ssenga of the past, who had to be the girl’s father’s biological sister, was in charge of preparing her for adulthood from when she was a child. So the girl was often dispatched to the ssenga’s place; to live with her and be groomed into a woman. The details of what transpired have faded over time, which necessitated the improvisation of a new kind of ssenga — the commercial ssenga.
This new ssenga is no relation of the girl’s, save by pecuniary links. They have offices in town in rather questionable places; send out information about their dealings in newspaper, radio and TV adverts. When they capture their victims, spew so much information, it is hard to sort out what is good and what is not.
Some of the issues girls of the past received counsel on from the paternal aunt included home management, her life as a wife and mother, how to relate with the wider community, relating with in-laws and how to deal with the ogre of competing for a man with other women. Remember, that was long-term training, which involved observation, cross-checking with other people and so on.
Now, these same topics are handled, but in a day; a week at most and by a stranger. So you have a usually career — single woman dealing with a young woman seeking to be married, the former telling the latter how to please her husband, the things to do and not do and what to do should there be competition.
Hardly ever is this counsel derived from Koranic or biblical teaching; hardly is it meant for the wellbeing of the couple as they will be in their marriage. I will not scar my image by delving into the sexual lunacy they tell these girls, but they also ruin people’s wives-to-be by telling them things like men cannot be trusted, you must live by the principle of ‘ours is ours, but mine is mine’.
As a result, you have women who have secret investments dotted all over the place, while the man foots the family bills. They tell them no matter who you marry, a man is a man, and he will always have someone else in the fringes.
So you have a woman who, should she be the type, will not hesitate to cater for her conjugal passions elsewhere, thinking, after all he too is feeding ‘in the village’.
They tell them no in-law will be on your side in a matter pitting you against your man; so the poor girls get into their marriages like they are advancing to the battle front, only they are armed with amulets and mounds of unspeakable things around their waists.
Culture is not bad, I must say. However, when it comes to romantic relationships, culture is not the main determinant of how to handle issues.
And even if it were, this notion of so-called ssengas poisoning girls into becoming terrible wives just has to stop. Besides, can’t some people see what has been obsolete for ages and what can still work?