By William M. Phiri
I once thought I was strong because I could dead-lift 110 kgs. I once thought I was strong because I played 90 minutes straight in a football game, or when I ran cross-country in High School. I was mistaken.
When I became a Husband and Father, I have come to realize this is a feeble and laughable strength. Real strength is when a Husband and a Father gets out of bed, every day for years on end, before the sun comes up, leaving his Wife and Children sleeping peacefully, and puts in a 12-hour work day. Real strength is coming home to a teething baby and a wife that is beyond what she can endure, and taking over for a while. Real strength is sleeping with a chicken pox-suffering son, for a couple nights, because you cannot afford to be weak and let them suffer.
Real strength is taking the wife out to dinner, ‘redding’ up the table after a meal and taking out the trash. It is cutting down the overgrown trees over the fence. Real strength is holding your baby girl in your arms, and she falls asleep instantly, because she has complete faith in you.
So what happened to men of real strength and character? Every day, the media tells us about how a feminist idol made it big, or how we are making strides in imprisoning a male child, or turning a boy child into a sort of villain, while seemingly doing everything to emancipate and empower a girl child. We gloat over a female politicians appointment to a higher office, while a male farmer, who takes care of his land and his family, is a mere clod, even more than the dirt that he works in the fields.
In his thought provoking article in The Lusaka Times (16/12/2018), DANCING WITH THE WHITE SHADOWS: AN ANALYSIS OF A CAPTIVE MIND, Henry Kanyanta Sosala (Chitimkulu), carefully alludes to the emasculating of an African male (Zambian in context) due to lack of indigenous, free, independent thinking of Africans. Sosala writes with audacity. He states that, “I have developed my philosophical conscience on “how to think,” and have stubbornly refused to be told “what to think.” He continues, “I now feel totally liberated because one of the tenets of being a free-thinker is the ability to tell people what they need to know, rather than what they want to hear.”
It is grotesquely unfortunate that free thinking is untenably aloof from our politicians, traditional leaders and policy makers in our country. The Ministry of Gender was established with a unique objective of ensuring that both Genders, male and female, be recipients of equality before the law in matters of Gender Based Violence (GBV) among others. Nonetheless, it is evident that the overzealous Minister lacks understand of the embryonic objective of her Ministry, or as Sosala aptly puts it, she is deficient of “free thinking.” The Ministry of Gender has turned out to be a conduit in which the Western empire, (America and Europe) utilize to weaken, enfeeble, erode, undermine and cripple male virility in our country. I ask again, where is the dying breed of real men? Men of strength and character. Sosala writes, “It is so unfortunate that we have been wrongly taught that the West has all the answers to Africa’s problems. And it is only shameful to expect donors to solve these local challenges for us. . .”
It is so unfortunate that we have been wrongly taught that the West has all the answers to Africa’s problems. And it is only shameful to expect donors to solve these local challenges for us.
One cannot fathom how our traditional leader’s, Opposition Party’s, Intellectuals, Policy Researchers, and general citizenry, peer comfortably like spectators while a Government Ministry imprudently and injudiciously desecrate our culture and cultural values our ancestors honorable handed down to us. African culture dates back to biblical times. It is an open secret that the Gender Ministry is either wholly, or in part sponsored by Western donors. Nonetheless, are we going to sell our birth-rights for a bowl of soup? Can we exchange our inherent African (Zambian in context) culture for Dollars or Euros? I appeal to the Appointing Authority and the Cabinet to put a check on this Ministry before we witness a free flow of our dignity. A Western way of life has no culture.
In his book, A HUMANIST IN AFRICA, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda says that, “Infact colonialism, for all it’s benefits, devalued man. . .And even more serious the colonialists set out to destroy an African’s self-confidence. They dined into his mind the idea that we are primitive, backward, and degraded, and but for their presence amongst us, we would be living like animals. The result is that even today in an independent African state, you will find a certain sector of the population suffering from a “Bwana” Complex. They cannot stand on their own feet as free men (or women) but must look over their shoulders all the time for the approval of a white man.”
And even more serious the colonialists set out to destroy an African’s self-confidence.
No one can legislate morality. Moral values are inherent in human beings. The supposed issues of Gender Based Violence (GBV) are not issues you can tame through the law. Arrest and confinement of a group of girls that allegedly inserted a bottle in their victim will not promote morality, nor deter would be offenders, neither will furnishing a Warn and Caution statement to Kay Figo for exposing her privates to the public change her mindset. Banning cultural practices by Chiefs and traditional leaders will not promote morality either. Castrating male offenders of GBV will never be a solution because sometimes the females are equally guilty of a similar offence. Raising the legal age of consent does not work either. It creates even a greater problem of teen pregnancy as observed in Eastern Province recently.
Alternatively, the Ministry of Gender, in collaboration with line ministries of Chiefs Affairs and the Ministry of Social Services can be more proactive rather than reactive. For example, they can partner with the Ministry of Education through the Department of Curriculum Development to include in Schools curricular issues of gender equity among other effective means of imparting knowledge.
Our Zambian culture is slowly, but surely eroding. It is quickly and dangerously assimilating to a Western non-existent culture. We are more inclined to idolize the shocking unconventional lifestyles of Hollywood glitterati than being concerned with what is happening around us. I ask again, where are the real men, husbands, and fathers of Zambia? Why do they seem to be ignored or non existent? The answer is obvious. So obvious that it is shocking. The real-men, the men who are building Zambia, digging Copper, keep Zambia running, are under-appreciated, and over worked, as if it is expected, and no one seems to care. These men are too busy waking up while it’s still dark outside, working 12 hours a day, coming home to take care of their wives and children for six days, and taking their families to church on Sunday (or Sabbath). They are too busy to care about being talked about in the media, or seek validation by the Ministry of biased-Gender.
Trywell Kalusopa says that, “I believe that political and economic brains that do not liberate their own people from oozing poverty when they have the instruments to do so are worthless. Brains that recite pseudo capitalist agenda for self aggrandizement are a curse to the nation” Sunday Post, (19/8/2007).
To the real Zambian men, regardless of political affiliation, creed, religion, or race, this is a tribute to you. YOU are the glue that holds your family together. YOU are needed. YOU are what God made you to be. Do Not accept to be bought or sold by Dollars and Euros! You are the driving force of the economy regardless of politics. You are the ones making a real and lasting difference in the world, while building your lives and your families; not the capitalist exploiters who have bewitched our politicians to heap excessive taxes on you, as well as compromised female leaders who will sell the country for a bowl of lentil soup. You are the target of Western influenced media campaign to make you look stupid, ineffective and weak. Ignore it, and do your duty anyway. Without you, selfless, dedicated men, hardworking men of integrity, we would not build this country; we would not have a country we call our own.
In the unlike chance that you get time to relax over the weekend, take a sit in an easy chair, serve yourself a cool drink, and pat your own back. And that is alright, because no else will do it. At the end of the day, YOU are the real men, and you do not need them to do it.