“I will kill you!” he breathed, angered that he could not reach her. She ran to the back of one of the neighbour’s houses and jumped over. He watched on, powered, yet defeated by the rule of trespassing. His fists clenched tightly, you could easily envision the damage they would cause if anything came between them. Oh, the strength that adrenalin brings! ” Even murderers get a hearing,” He went on, anger spewing from every breath. A few meters away, his children aged 11, 14, 17, and 20 watched, helplessly, but happy that mama had made away safely. The girls, who were older knew he was coming back for them.
This was the norm every time he was home. He felt the need to prove his worth and position. He wanted his children to respect him, and know he was mightier than the parent who stayed home. He wanted to be feared like a god. After all, he walked on higher ground. He was the sole provider for his home. He ensured this remained so by keeping his wife at home.
He worked out the perfect plan that would start a fight. He would churn through possible questions that would require his wife to explain. Questions that a yes or no would trap her into submission or defence. He would then corner her and be the man his ancestors recognise…a man who has mastered the art of taming a woman…a man, worthy to sit among fellow traditionalists. A true chauvinist.
Once again, the poor lady, thin from her escaping tendencies, takes off, this time with a scream that demands the neighbourhood’s audience. “It’s the Mwihaki’s again” my next-door neighbour sighs and I look on wondering what good neighbours should do in such an instance. “We’re tired of this drama.” the eldest daughter was hit hard and she lay, sprawled on the ground, cursing after her overbearing father.
Within minutes, the court council gathers for a word with the violent man. “This is becoming too much, Bwana. You need to find another way that does not cause such disruption to the court” Yes, what we mean is try to kill each other silently within the confines of your walls. ” She has turned the children against me!” he explained. “Can’t I ask a simple question in my house? They are always ready to attack me!”
The men nodded intently, and all seemed to agree. Yes, yes, of course, your voice must be heard in your house.. Oh, she did what? Ah, no, no. She was most certainly wrong! You can’t do that! How now? “I should probably leave her with her children so they can leave in peace,” he added and all the invisible progestogenic tears of consolation were triggered. No, don’t.. step your foot down like the man you are. Just, let’s keep it silent, get it? And in a full backup, the violent man of the day marched back to his house, feeling energized, and empowered, his wife, lucky to be away.
I watched the children get back into the house and could almost ake out what would follow- hate-speech on their mother, and a brief how-to guide on avoiding maneno ya wanawake. The script was all-too-familiar. I prayed they wouldn’t go through what my siblings and I did to break this cycle of evil.
The cycle that our fathers went through that turned them violent and chauvinistic. The violence that led our brothers to hit their wives harder, unaware that there are better, more effective ways to communicate. The anguish that grows a pain that turns young women bitter, or leads them to marry men who are just as monstrous as the ones that raised them. The pain of rejection that turns young men into rapists, it’s all a cycle of evil that roots from experiences we collect growing up…
Experiences that today’s parent must guard if they want to break the cycle. It all starts with you. What habits have you dragged from your past? Violence? Rape? addiction? Are you still stuck in the confines of these walls? Are you handing them over to your children and expecting a different outcome? Be the change you want to see tomorrow. Let’s nurture our children to love and respect other human beings.
…BUT we must FIRST be that person.
What are you battling? Care to share?