Women in Mayuge district recently asked the Government to enact tough laws to punish men who engage in ludo and pool table games during working hours. Women in Busoga are also fed up of men leaving them to run homes alone. What is the problem? Titus Kakembo and Carol Natukunda explore this issue
Our husbands are becoming too dependent on us. They do not want to dig, but instead, after having breakfast, they go to trading centres to play board games and to take part in politicking.
The Government should come up with laws to restrain them so that they can become productive in the economy,” says Saida Saamusa from Katwe village in Mayuge district.
This was during a recent campaign on food security enhancement by Bunya West Member of Parliament (MP) Vincent Bagiire.
Saamusa said men wait when women have harvested food and then sell it to get money for marrying other women. “Our husbands have left all family responsibilities to us,” she adds.
Fatuma Naikoba, from Dwalirwo zone, says as a result of the men’s irresponsible behaviour, children are dropping out of school due to lack of fees.
“We have three children of school-going age, but they are not studying. Whenever I want to sell part of the food to raise money for their school fees, my husband threatens to beat me, saying the land on which I grow food belongs to him,” laments Naikoba.
Preaching to the choir?
Even in modern homes, some mothers are crying over men in their prime, who exit the workplace, preferring to sleep, play video games, watch TV, get loans which they cannot repay and generally leave their wives to run the home.
An MP who requested for anonymity, had her house used as collateral by her husband to procure a loan from loan sharks. The sh20m multiplied to sh50m and he failed to clear it. He had written an agreement with the money lenders to take the house should he fail to pay.
“I had nothing to do but pay up so as to salvage our house,” recounts the MP.
Jane Muzungu, a businesswoman in downtown Kampala, says her husband gives her grief.
“Because he did not have a job, I bought him chickens and constructed for him houses to rear them, but whenever I would go on business trips, he would cruise in my car, pick up mistresses and take them to tour the farm.
This man did not do anything enterprising for himself or the family.”
Needless to say, the relationship did not last.
“Why work when you earn more than me,” he seems to ask. The way men were taught in the past, to be bread winners, seems to be lacking today
The blame game
Galiwango, a 40-year-old Ugandan living in the diaspora, says he finds today’s enterprising woman very picky and so demanding.
“Women want to wear the trousers, so many men will let them be in order to have sanity in the home,” Galiwango says. He adds that this has resulted in men taking it a little too far and deciding not to contribute to the wellbeing of their families at all.
True to this, Marvin, a businessman, used to deal in maize until he married a corporate girl in one of the audit firms in Kampala. He would travel several miles across the country to look for maize, then have it processed into flour for sale.
But soon, the couple decided that with children in the picture, Marvin needed to switch businesses or at least, have a job that was within the capital, Kampala.
Marvin quit and has not worked since: that was three years ago. Interestingly, Marvin does not seem to be complaining.
“He is always seen driving his wife’s cars and at midday, you are likely to find him drinking while his wife foots the bills. But he says he is a happy man doing nothing, except playing video games with his children,” says a friend.
Michael Barekezi, a lawyer in private practice, says this turn of events is because men no longer have to pay graduated tax.
“In the villages, men were flogged if they did not pay graduated tax. So everyone was forced to look for something to do. This is why they wake up and drink.
“They cannot think of school fees because there is free education. It is like a comfort zone — you do nothing, but somehow you are still well taken care of,” says Barekezi.
Laura Aryaijuka, a lecturer of psychology at Kyambogo University thinks it has to do with deteriorating cultural values.
“A man used to be defined by his hard work. But these days, it seems to be about who can afford a bottle of beer, which is sad. I believe it is about ego. He does nothing all day, but feels entitled to benefit from his wife’s sweat because a man is man,” she says.
Beatrice Nandawula, the director of Makerere Youth Guidance Centre, says the message about what it means to be a man is confusing.
“Movies are filled with stories of men who refuse to grow up and refuse to take responsibility in relationships,” says Nandawula.
She adds that for boys to become men, they need to be guided through advice, habit, instruction, example and correction.
Rev Peter Matovu, the director of Munange Counselling Centre at Nkumba University agrees: “Each generation of men and women has the obligation to teach the younger people about responsibilities. That seems to be lacking today.”
It is about attitude
Nehemiah Matembe, husband to outspoken women activist Miria, says it is all in the mindset. He says even when his wife was rising, he did not sit back.
“Before she got an official car and a driver, I used to drive her to work and back. I gave her my full support. I know women bring a different and better approach to work,” he says.
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