The worst tragedy that can befall any man is to marry an antisocial woman. A wife who has no respect for his relatives, full of contempt towards his friends and has no respect for the culture of the man’s community. The woman’s behaviour renders the man a social pariah among his relatives and friends. He finds himself increasingly ostracised and isolated. He has to endure a life of loneliness. I know quite a good number of men from so many tribes in Kenya who have been cut off from their friends and relatives by their wives.
Wives often go to exceeding lengths to protect their families. Some men can be too generous and too irresponsible to care about their wives and children. And women are genetically wired to protect their families and children. But in their quest to protect their families, they can cut off a man from his societal obligations.
Women always want the best for themselves and their children. However, most men have obligations beyond their immediate nuclear families. This is a potential source of conflict between the man and the wife.
Some wives think the man’s relatives are lazy and not entitled to their sons’ fortunes. But a real man must draw a line on how to deal with his wife and kids on one hand, and his extended family and friends on the other.
Men who cut off their families and roots are doomed. They tend to lead miserable lives, are lonely and isolated. Once people establish that you married one of those moody, selfish, misanthropic wives, they will give your household a wide berth. For sure, some relatives are just nosy and some wives are just introverted, and rather selfish with their time. But some wives are toxic.
Some men even never go back to their homes once they settle in Nairobi. Once they build a house in Nairobi, they settle here forever, and annoyingly want to be buried at Lang’ata. They forget their real homes, where their umbilical cords are buried. I’m as modern as the next Heineken-sipping wannabe, but I have come to appreciate that culture is an important aspect of any person’s life. You shun it at your own peril.
Women are biologically designed to be adaptive to any culture. A woman can be married by an aborigine and she will adapt. But for a man, you have to respect the culture of your ancestors.
I have been privileged to travel and read about many cultures around the world. I am therefore in a position to speak with authority that as Africans, we had life figured out before the proselytising white man arrived on our shores. Though our cultures are now terribly eroded and appropriated, they are still superior, if you ask me.
Of course, some of practices such as FGM and wife-inheritance are not as practicable due to the HIV/Aids scourge, but I have spent time reviewing the cultural ‘constitutions’ of several communities and our wahenga had this stuff figured out. So, we should really be proud of our cultures.
Even the white people we like aping have a culture they base their lives and beliefs on. If you dig deep enough, you will discover that the Chinese still look up to Confucius. The Germans have Martin Luther to thank for their national attitude and outlook. America relies on Protestantism as a push for their unbridled capitalism. All these traditions are centuries old even though we think that they are modern societies.
Sip your mocha at any of Nairobi’s vulgarly effulgent shopping mall, but try and know where you come from. Your wife must never let you get lost in the city and its ways. Women can be a raw deal. Even those who are ultra- and uber-modern would still want you to take cows to their parents, and the attendant ruracios and every cultural rite that revolves around marriage and childbirth.
But when it comes to honouring other traditional cultural rites, such as burial and funeral rites, letting mothers shave their daughters’ heads or shaving their heads when the husband dies, and such, they suddenly think culture is a backward thing. Nothing could be further from the truth.