Seventy-nine per cent of Ugandaâ€™s single women want to get married, 14.8% are not interested in marriage and 26% cannot find the right man. A New Vision survey of 500 single ladies of marriageable age living and working in Kampala came up with stunning revelations, Elvina Nawaguna and Raphael O
ome drive fancy cars and have a child or two. Others are highly educated and running big jobs.
They are beautiful and of marriageable age but many young women continue to live without husbands.
Is it a fad, are men shying away from marriage or are they just not there? Is todayâ€™s woman under a curse to remain single or is it by choice?
The New Vision recently conducted a survey involving over 500 single ladies of marriageable age (20 to 40 years) in Kampala.
The ladies, randomly picked from all walks of life and professions, were asked why they were not yet married or the reasons why there are many unmarried women.
The survey was then followed by a focus group discussion involving unmarried ladies. The results from both the discussion and questionnaires were intriguing.
Why women are single
The majority of the women (25.8%) said they were still single because they had not yet found Mr. Right.
â€œWe are in a dilemma; men between 30â€“40 years are very unserious. They do not know what they want. They just work towards breaking our hearts and they love it. The older men we would like to get married to are already married and not willing to leave their wives,â€ said Milly, 27.
However, Joan Mugenzi, a born-again Christian, believes that looking for Mr Right is a myth that has only contributed to many women remaining single.
â€œI believe the idea of Mr. Right is simply an idol in someoneâ€™s mind. Every time you try to relate, you have this idolised man in your mind, who does not exist. Suppose you discover that the other person is also looking for Miss Right, there may never be a marriage and so the cycle of single-hood might go on. For Christian single ladies, Godâ€™s timing is the bestâ€™ I believe thatâ€™s what keeps many of us going!â€ Mugenzi says.
Agnes Barongo, a communication specialist concurs: â€œWe are not looking for perfect people because we are not perfect ourselves. But it is very difficult to find a man who recognises the fact that even in his state of imperfection he is willing to work at making a relationship successful.â€
Although an overwhelming percentage (27.0%) agreed that marriage was in fact a good thing, 14.8% are not interested in marriage because according to them, men fear commitment and therefore do not make responsible husbands and fathers.
â€œWhy should I get married if I am the one going to pay for the childrenâ€™s school fees, house rent, buy food and take care of all the domestic responsibilities? Men are no longer as responsible as our fathers used to be,â€ said Rosette Mukasa, who suggested she is comfortable having a casual affair with someone she can â€œcall up when I feel like having fun instead of having someone masquerading as my husband.â€
Mukasa said marriages are not taken seriously these days; they are for having sex and giving birth to a child. â€œSo if I can get my child without necessarily getting married, I could stay without a husband.â€
A greater number of the women said they look for love (20.6%), companionship (15.6%), happiness (9.4%) and children (7.7%). Contrary to common belief, only a few of the ladies (2.9%) admitted that they would go into marriage for (financial) security.
Most of the women however were convinced that besides children, marriage offers nothing but the direct opposite of the principle emotional fulfilment women crave. They find it scary, stressful, an institution of misery, a prison, a challenge and bad â€œbecause one person becomes an itemâ€. These were some of the common labels the women tagged onto marriage in both the group discussion and the questionnaire.
It was therefore a little surprising when some women confessed, during the discussions, that they fear commitment because they do not want to lose their independence. Some of them, said a womanâ€™s losses in marriage are far greater than the gains.
â€œWhen you get married, your husband and his relatives expect you to behave and dress in a manner they feel is worthy of their daughter-in-law. You are not supposed to wear a mini-skirt even if you feel comfortable in it and then you are expected to be at home at a particular hour,â€ Ruth Kalyango complained.
Prossy Patra, who hosts Dembe FMâ€™s love show Eki Love-Love, says she is single, not searching and definitely not desperate. â€œWhy should girls get married and be tied down in a cage; you canâ€™t hang out with your friends or do what you want!â€ she charges.
A number of the women however said that they are not yet married because they are still having fun. Stella says that she is not married because she is still having fun.
According to Stella the right age for marriage is in 30â€™s and 40â€™s after â€œhaving funâ€. To her, there is nothing to look for in marriage apart from having the same guy to yourself. Marriage to her would be a source of â€œpsychological stressâ€.
To her men are lumpens and fools who fear commitment, even though a world would be boring without them. Stella is in a relationship, but is not yet ready for marriage.
â€œBaby Mamaâ€ syndrome
Baby Mama syndrome is where women of marriageable age prefer to have a child or two but stay single and not be â€œtied downâ€ by men. While many of todayâ€™s single women have almost everything they need, most of them say that they want â€œa childâ€. Unfortunately, with the exception of artificial insemination (and how would you explain that to your child) the only way a woman can get her own biological child is by getting together with a man. So how does one go about that without getting tied down to a marriage?
Milly revealed that most of the women feel safer getting a child from married men because married men will not ask for commitment or push you around simply because you got a child with his sperm.
In Rosette Musokeâ€™s view however, chances of a man sticking around because you have had a child together are very minimal because men fear responsibility. â€œFor me I think it is easy for a woman to get a child from any man she wants,â€ Musoke said matter-of-factly.
Justineâ€™s suggestion on the other hand sounded more amusing, eccentric, and even spiteful: â€œYou just stage-manage yourself, get pregnant and have a child with him, then find a minor excuse to throw him out.â€
She said that women are sometimes required to trick the men in order to get babies because many men freak out and run away if you let them know you wanted to have their baby.
According to some ladies in the focus group, women emancipationists continue to encourage ladies to stop relying on men for survival and have contributed to the increasing attitude among women that they can do without men; that all they need is a big car, good job and a baby.
Prossy Patra agrees and says more girls are still single because every girl works these days. â€œIt is not like those days when women were waiting for men to take care of them!â€
Education and career
70% of the women were university graduates, 19% had diplomas, 4% had masters degrees and 6% had attained secondary education. A heated debate went on about women and their academic and career pursuits.
More women seem to be more interested in building their careers first, then get married later, which many of the ladies attributed to women emancipation. 40.8% of these respondents said that the primary reason they were not married yet was because they were still pursuing their career and academics.
Barongo said that women have taken their academic careers too high. They are being awarded degrees, masters and PhDs. Such academic achievements have armed women with a high level of consciousness and a new perspective to things like marriage.
â€œThey (women) are able to take calculated steps involving relationships. Before they get involved emotionally, they calculate whether a relationship will bring expected results and meaning. It is not like the previous years when, after studying, it was the order of a womanâ€™s social life to get married.â€
Barongo also noted that the heartbreaks that some girls have experienced through days in school have made them realise that it is better to â€œdivert the emotional energies to fulfil their career goals.â€
Angela Katatumba, one of Kampalaâ€™s most eligible singles, is a fairly true example of Barongoâ€™s keen observation. Katatumba confirms that her line of business has kept her single. Managing her fatherâ€™s business, running her own foundation and running many other things, Katatumba has little time left for meeting guys. She however thinks that marriage is a beautiful thing and would like to be married to a hardworking and loving guy.
On the other hand, the women complained that todayâ€™s men are scared of educated women, fearing that they will dominate them. Justine says that with education, you are emancipated and equal with the men. â€œIf he shouts at you, you shout back; if he stands up, you also stand. If he raises his hand, you stand on the table!â€ she says.
Proposals and extravagant wedding expectations
From the questionnaire, 7.1% of girls with boyfriends said they were not yet married because no proposals had been made yet.
Sarah Zawedde, a local music star, said that men are not proposing and that has left many women hanging on desperately.
â€œIf there is no proposal, we cannot go out of our way to find men.
Women are supposed to be found by the men and not the other way round (at least from a Christian perspective). In other cases, where the proposals are made the men donâ€™t meet the expectations of the ladies.
In defence of Mugenziâ€™s conventional viewpoint, Justine paints a clear picture. â€œProposing is like taking a manâ€™s belongings into your house! It is like taking the bigger responsibility in the relationship,â€ she reasoned.
So why are the men not proposing? Are they afraid of getting married to successful women? Some of the ladies agreed that when a man sees you with a big job, they fear that you will not respect them.
Jonathan, a tourism graduate, asked why he hadnâ€™t proposed to his girlfriend, said, â€œAm I supposed to propose? What if she says no?â€
Many men feel that they want to â€œmake some money firstâ€ so that they can afford â€œtodayâ€™s expensive weddings and kwanjulasâ€
â€œKampala has set a standard of extravagant weddings with a budgets of up to sh15m. That is just too scary, â€ says Timothy, an accountant.
Charles, an artiste who has been dating his girlfriend for three years, says that men take their time to propose because some of the girls are not yet ready for marriage and are still having fun.
â€œBy the time a man thinks of proposing marriage, he is 100% percent sure that that the woman will satisfy him and make him happy; but of course there are men who are just unserious players!â€ he explains.
Pat, a lawyer, says he is not sure about marriage, because todayâ€™s women are â€œtricky and just after moneyâ€. He says it is important to take your time to study her before going on your knees with a ring.
From what we see here, there is a double coincidence of wants. The women think the men are not ready and the men think the women are not ready, but both secretly nurse a desire to take it to the next level.
Money, education and God
While most men in Uganda think that women are after their money, most of the women said they were looking for God-fearing and honest men. During the discussion, the ladies agreed that money mattered, but his education level mattered more, because it meant that he had potential to make money. â€œI canâ€™t get married to you if you are very poor, but if you are understanding, nice and educated, I can compromise,â€ said
â€œHowever much he is rich, but uneducated, he canâ€™t reason the same way with me,â€ Sarah said.
â€œIt is risky, he is not presentable and you canâ€™t sit on the same table and start arguing,â€ another lady commented. The ladies insisted that they could not marry a man who is less educated than them. However Jassy said if the man is famous, she could compromise â€œfor the sake of fameâ€ as she puts it. She also said that if the man is educated and not poor, she could marry him and â€œadvocate for God-fearing later.
The rest of the ladies, who were not born-again Christians, however said they would prefer getting married to a born- again man.
â€œI am a muslim, but I would want a born-again man because they have good principles; even if you beat him, he canâ€™t beat you back!â€ Aisha said.
â€œI canâ€™t go to a man who is not god-fearing; you canâ€™t go to a family where they donâ€™t even know the entrance of a church. Some men like that are brought up to believe in witchcraft!â€ Milly insisted. She said men who engage in acts that hurt their wives like hitting them and cheating on them do so because they are not God-fearing.
All said and done, it looks like Ugandaâ€™s women are no longer the naÃ¯ve girls who looked to marriage as her ultimate goal in life. For most of them, the gains must be weighed against the losses before making the decision. It is no longer just about the excitement of having a man to go home to. For the women, it is a good marriage forever or none at all; No middle ground.
The men on the other hand need to avail themselves and be men. Real men need not be intimidated by womenâ€™s careers and education levels, because as it turned out, even the very educated women wanted someone to love them, be honest with them and someone to start a good home with.
Where did the men go?