Men are designed to cheat. The African woman has embraced this notion to the point that no salacious sexual tryst of man will ever shock her. So while Americans revolt over the actions of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the African in me chuckles because in no part of Africa is a husband sleeping with the maid news. In most African homes, choosing a maid is a strategic and involving process.
A pretty maid with supple features is prey for the husband or the gardener. A menopausal woman with a beard is preferred but, she may come with arthritis or a disdain for authority. Out of frustration, some women are subjected to a maidless life, but they still cannot tame their wild men. “At least if the man is showing her some respect by doing it outside the home, she can live with it.” A well loved aunt counselled. Now lets be clear about one thing. Whereas cheating is condoned, the by-product of the act, a child, is considered the ultimate betrayal, but it does not have to end a marriage. If Maria Shriver lived in Sub-Saharan Africa, women would have rallied around her to share personal stories of maids who had been returned to their villages, rotund belly in tow. Maria has a lot in common with the African woman. She put her career on hold as she catapulted her husband to power. She stood by her husband even when rumors of his indiscretions surfaced. And just like many African women, she crowned her husband king only to be rewarded with gutter infidelity.
I could send Maria heart-dropping accounts of real life disappointments, none of which will ease her pain but at least she will not feel so alone. My mum often repeats the story of her friend whose beloved husband died from a massive heart attack. At the funeral, the widow was so consumed with grief she could barely stand. Until her eyes landed on a small boy in black funeral cloth weeping ‘Dada’ beside the coffin. The resemblance between the corpse and the boy was all the evidence she needed to dry her eyes and move on with her life. I have an uncle who married the most beautiful woman the University of Ghana ever produced. I paid him a surprise visit one December afternoon only to find him chatting up the plantain seller in his living room, KY jelly in hand. At the time of his death my grandfather had 34 children, that we knew of. Some of his latter wives were younger than his grandchildren. It brought him great joy when one of his wives magnanimously gave him permission to bring the illegitimate children to live in the family home. If Maria lived in any sub-Saharan country, she would be advised to forsake lawyers and ‘give it to God’. She would get unsollicited advice to stand firm in her marriage and not to let a common maid steal her man. Some will even encourage her to epitomize forgiveness and raise the illegtimate, but innocent child like her own.
I turn to my loved aunt for words of wisdom. “See, men are weak, they are children, they don’t think. You are woman, the stronger sex, pay him no mind. Eventually they will stop.” Eventually when auntie? When they have erectile dysfunction or when they are suffering from glaucoma?? My constant question to my many loved aunts is why they stay with perennially unfaithful men. They all say it is because the next man will do the same – no where good. “Amma, if you don’t want a man that cheats, there is only one option, Marry a white man.” To be continued.
Disclaimer: This article contains sweeping generalizations that may offend many, don’t blame me, I am a victim of my environment