The ultimate betrayal

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

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  1. The whole "Men are naturally promiscuous" mantra never sits well with me because it seems to give men a built in excuse for cheating.  "Oh, it's not me baby, it's the man in me." I've never understood why someone would bother to get into a commited relationship in the first place only to turn around and be unfaithful. to me a man who avoids commitment is more honorable than someone who rushes into a relationship or a marriage when they aren't prepared to be faithful. And I really wish more Ghanaian women would take harder line on infidelity. If you believe that most Ghanaian men cheat and it's hard to find a faithful Ghanaian man, then the other half of that conclusion is inevitable: That Ghanaian men cheat because they can. They get away with it because too many Ghanaian women feel that being married to an unfaithful husband is better than being single or being divorced. I feel that when a woman tolerates a cheating husband, they teach both their male and female children that cheating is ok, and for that reason alone, I wish more Ghanaian women would stop tolerating infidelity.

  2. @ David - *like*

  3. Yeah, the problem is white men aren't entirely squeaky clean either, but neither are African women for that matter. After all, our African men need to cheat with someone and in reality its probably just as likely to be one of his f'riend's wives or one of his wife's friends as it is the aspirational plantain seller.
    For the record, I have always been disgusted by the idea of Master shagging the maid - it's not completely consensual (ie = rape, in many cases). I mean - does she really have a choice in the matter? Does she know she's allowed to say no? Even if she does - what happens to her then? Is her job still secure? She can try blackmail or complaining but who is going to believe the housegirl over the Big Man? And even if she is believed, is the wife going to thank her for it? I think we all know who is far more likely to get the sack in that situation and it's not the philandering husband.
    Love the blog Amma - keep it up!

  4. I introduce Dominic Strauss Kahn. Aka DSK

  5. White man? I introduce Dominic Strauss Kahn. Aka DSK

  6. Amma, very delightful read!!!! I was holding my sides with laughter!!!! But on a more serious note, its quite unfortunate how the world works. A friend once told me that men and women are not supposed to be monogomous - of course this was a guy, but sometimes with all that is going around it gets you really thinking, what happened. I recently watched this very interesting comedy called Ira and Abby which showcases the ins and outs of relationships, marriage and cheating. Again it was very funny but at the end it does challenge your beliefs about the whole boy/girl dynamics. Very interesting read! Can't wait for the continuation.

  7. oh no auntie did not tell you to "just marry a white man if you don't want to be cheated on!!" arrrggghhh…do we not see enough around us that this is completely untrue? oh my. but i couldnt agree with you more…alot of our moms, aunts, grandmoms etc stayed with men who repeatedly cheated on them and fathered other children. and it makes me wonder why they turned a blind eye. sometimes it was because they had no choice. many of these women were completely dependent on their husbands and had no where to go if they decided to leave because as you know, back in the day, families in africa would send a daughter packing right back to her husband if she tried to leave him and return home with the warning" go and make your marriage work. so what if he cheats? all men cheat!!!" i know an elderly lady in liberia who couldnt have children and her husband proceeded to have 12 children by 8 different women outside the home…and guess what? he brought 7 of these children home and she took care of them like her own!! now, i don't see anyone in our generation accepting this. could it be because we are more self-sufficient and don't have to "depend" on anyone for our existence and as such, can pack our bags and leave? is it because the men in our generation know this and might hesitate before messing up?  hhhmmmm……

  8. "See, men are weak, they are children, they don't think" - it's thoughts/comments like this that have resulted in so many good men becoming so commitment phobic. Two thumbs up to Schwarzenegger!! - Sorry….I'm also a victim of my environment.

  9. Oni, sadly the Stories are too many to tell, I don’t know if our generation will be that much different. Being self sufficient goes a long way but have self esteem will go even further

  10. AJ. I am so glad you enjoyed it. As sad as these stories are, our mothers are able to inject humor in the narration. We have a lot to learn from them about strength, forgiveness and the real meaning of love. @F Dominic is definitely a reason to read the part 2 coming up @ Samuel the statement is a sad one but you will be surprised how often it is repeated to young girls and men.

  11. Hi Ama, 
    I too couldn't help but smile at the adages in your article.  Being born and bred in Ghana I also know too well the typical situation in most homes with regards to cheating men.  What I've realised after much reading about it is sometimes men's reasons for cheating don’t even involve their partner and it’s simply an ego-based decision. Other times, reasons why men cheat can involve you and your relationship, or lack thereof.  So why do some men cheat in relationships? Almost all men know that cheating is wrong, yet many they still do it. Men will blame their reasons for cheating on their genes and their necessity to reproduce. However, aren’t we suppose to be further evolved than a chimp? Shouldn’t we be able to control our bodies through our minds and conscious decisions? Aparrently not always.

  12. Awww Jitten thank you for your contribution, and a great one too. see you here again

  13. And from the massive spread of AIDS in Africa, African men were also doing it with their butlers.

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