The other day I was having lunch with some friends of mine in town when a skimpily dressed girl passed by, leaving a trail of gazes, admiration and fantasy. As you would imagine, our conversation that had been focusing on South Africa’s economy and dwindling fortunes in the regional supremacy battles suddenly took a sharp turn.
As the youngest man in the group, I pretended to concentrate on my steak while checking out the girl and the fascination on one of the men’s face from the corner of my eye. “The girls these days are very daring,” said my friend. I kept mum, fully knowing that some of the men on the table could easily have been my father’s age. So I stuck to my lane. But it was not for long.
“Tony is this how you want your woman to be dressed?” he paused. “Is this why you always look uneasy in our traditional attire?” he continued. I needed to refocus this discussion to another direction before it degenerated into a tongue lashing for my generation.
“There is a strange breed of women in this town…” I started timidly. “Of course, we have just seen one” one of them agreed. “Just who marries such women?” another one paused. Just when I was trying to process whether that question was directed to me or it was purely rhetorical, one of them interjected. “Even when they dress like this, there are fools in this town who still marry them.”
We all sat up waiting for him to justify his assertion. You see, women will keep on complaining that they are mistreated and not respected. But I put it to you that a majority of women in SA, except from the ruling elite are happy with the current dispensation.
“Which woman is foolish enough to swap places with her man at the home front?” he asked. I looked around the table to see if my age was betraying me and I was the only one not getting his train of thought.
To my relief, everyone was waiting for this story to unravel. “Just look here gentlemen…” The story teller now having seen us pay attention, placed his toothpick complete with its ingredients on the side plate and delved into his story telling.
“Marriage shortchanges men. You pay lobola to her parents, and then you feed people from her entire village in the name of a wedding. As soon as she is under your roof, you start picking all her bills. You pay for her hair, her clothes, you pay school fees,” he explained. He went on to add: “After all this, she expects you to cut off your boyhood friends and many of your age mates with whom you were initiated together, to stay at home so that she can feed you countless cups of tea, talking about flower vases and the garden.”
Which woman is foolish enough to give up such, under the guise of independence? “Personally, if I could swap places with any of my wives I would do it the first thing in the morning,” he declared. He continued: “Women have got us quite literally by the balls,” When I heard this I tried hard to stare at my fork.
“Women have taken us thorough a guilty conscience phase that we have to spend the rest of our lives supporting their habits and their likes. Yet, they tell you they are marginalised. Marginalised my foot! We have been played and played a good one,” he hissed. I felt like hugging him.