By Gloria Nakajubi and Petrina Kyobutungi
While some argue that it is perfectly alright that a bachelor have a live-in maid, others vehemently oppose the idea. The greatest fear is that proximity might lead to a whole lot more
Frank Gashumba, one of Kampala’s eligible bachelors, has had two housemaids for over five years now. They cook for him, do laundry, and generally attend to all the house chores. And as Gashumba says, he has never crossed the boss-subordinate line.
“I know their lovers and each one has a day off in the month to go see her man. It’s all about defining each one’s boundaries and knowing what to do and at what time,” Gashumba says.
A lot of single men have live-in maids. You pay her to take care of your house. She is making contact with not just your house, but every bit of you, including your mannerisms.
She washes the spat-out toothpaste from your bathroom sink and breathes the odour off your socks and possibly boxers which are, in most cases, strewn on the floor. This semi-stranger, who is neither your girlfriend nor your little sister, does everything for you.
‘We are disciplined men’
So how possible is it that a man will not end up having a sexual relationship with this girl or even end up marrying her? Most single men with housemaids argue that they are disciplined.
Alex Muhangi, a stand-up comedian, has had a maid for four years. She comes around during the day, does the housework and leaves in the evening. This means if he wants a well-cooked meal, he will have it. But he says it requires a lot of discipline.
“You could get back when you are drunk and anything can happen,” he says.
Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala, the Archbishop of Kampala Diocese, reasons that there is nothing wrong with a bachelor having a maid. “I have a number of maids who serve me, but it all comes back to an individual.
There are, of course, human weaknesses, that’s why even married men are caught with their housemaids, but this can be avoided,” he argues.
Bbosa Kiyingi, the Mawokota South MP, a bachelor, says: “It’s about setting ground rules and avoiding situations that can make you compromise the set rules.”
Another seasoned bachelor, Gerald Karuhanga, notes that one should get someone they are more comfortable with, whether male or female. “All maids should be looked at as helpers and nothing more,” he says.
James Kisekka, an IT specialist in his early 30s, has a maid who comes in during the day and leaves in the afternoon. “I never get to see her because she comes in after I have left and leaves before I return.
I make sure I leave after I have bought all she needs to use and leave behind some money in case she needs to buy something, but in most cases she doesn’t use the money.” Kisekka adds that even on Sunday when he stays at home, she comes around, does the laundry and by the time he returns from church, she is gone.
You must be kidding
It is hard to convince a woman that her boyfriend should hire a maid. “If a man can sleep with a housemaid when he is married, with his wife and children in the same house, what about when he is alone?” muses Resty Kamugisha, a corporate lawyer.
True to this, two famous men are currently in the news over sex scandals involving maids. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sex scandal came to light in 2011 after an old photo of a young Schwarzeneggerperforming a sex act with his maid was found in his old apartment.
It emerged that he had an affair with his housekeeper, Mildred Baena, and fathered a son with her over 10 years earlier. The illicit relationship prompted the end of his marriage. His wife, journalist Maria Shriver, 57, filed for divorce in July 2011, citing irreconcilable differences.
Directly on the heels of this announcement came the alleged rape of a New York City hotel maid by Dominique Strauss Kahn, the then presidential hopeful of France and the former head of the International Monetary Fund. Immediately following the news that Kahn was indicated in a rape charge, rumours began flying that the maid was planted by one of Kahn’s enemies to humiliate him.
Whichever way you look at it, Kamugasha says: “It shows that men must have a problem keeping their pants intact. No woman is safe around a man, moreover as long as you are under the same roof. The closer you are, something will happen.”
Anne Tweheyo, a counsellor with Uganda Counselling Association, notes that with the working class, it is inevitable for a bachelor to hire a maid. Due to the tight schedule at work, one may not have time to do house chores, that is why he needs a maid.
However, Tweheyo says the challenge comes in when one has to sleep with the maid in the same house. “We are made of flesh and so temptations come our way often. A housemaid, like any other woman, can seduce a man, more so a bachelor directly or indirectly,” she explains.
Indeed, Victor, 28, says he has sometimes caught himself staring at his housegirl as she moves about the house wrapped only in a lesu (wrap).
The temptation comes from both ends because maids are also privy to the private lives of those who pay them. As a maid, you are in a tricky position. You are walking into someone’s intimate personal little world, but you are in your work world, and your job is to be polite to your boss.
So you end up bowing to his demands. In fact, reports say Schwarzenegger’s maid wanted to have sex with him. She admits she pursued him early on even, though he was happily married. And Schwarzenegger did spend lavishly on the maid; he was reportedly meeting all her financial needs.
Tweheyo further advises that certain boundaries should be set to avoid crossing this moral line. “Why should she come into your bedroom? Why should she move around your house naked? Why should you allow her to wash your undies? If you can’t set boundaries, you are suggesting to her indirectly,” she says.
Ruth Senyonyi, a counsellor with Bank of Uganda, advises that if a bachelor has no choice but to hire a housemaid, the maid should be part-time. The further they are away from crossing one’s path, the temptations of the two morally misbehaving are minimal.
What housemaids say
Joyce Ajok a housemaid in Gayaza says she would work for a bachelor given the chance, as long as he takes good care of her.
“Since he has no woman living with him and i could even eventually get married to him,” she says.
Maureen feels it is better to work for a bachelor than a spinster. “Women always have issues. It is better to work for a man.”