By Peter Gwokto via the UAH Forum,
Attending schools in Montreal and Halifax, I came thru experience with our Ugandan/African sisters the recall of which still floods my skin with goosebumps. For better and/or for worse, I think God was right in denying me what I rightly believed I deserved – I still don’t know why I thought so. I dated quite a number hoping they held the same principle of Africans for Africans or that ours is ours but mine is mine for to me, nothing of the female species would replace my Ugandan sisters. Fortunately for me (but unfortunate at those moments) , none of my Solomon lyrics or Herculean muscle displays converted into any sexual scores however close I got to these high-value targets. Today, while the memory exists, its grown dark moulds that I cannot dare delve into recalling for fear of sickening my guts.
If I may say, these sisters of ours come expecting more greener pastures than we – the men – hope to graze. Few men believe they will achieve what they came for with such speed and geometric precision as the women think. The sad thing is that it seems to work just that way since men lean towards longterm/long-lasting strategies for the future (sacrificing the present to gain the future) while the women (competitive among themselves as they are), strive for very short-term and easy-to-achieve plans using the best springboard available – the male victims. Now, I ask the diaspora women in the forum for forgiveness as this is not a generalization but a trend for most. In fact, across nationality lines in the diasporas there are more children between Ugandan women and nonUgandan men than between non-Ugandan women and Ugandan men (fellow country folks who understand their cultures and way of life). Many have thrown out their Ugandan men for non-Motherlanders. In most cases, these non-Motherlanders are not sought for love, family or long-term marital plans but to quickly replenish the purse. And I have seen situations where after the joyride is over, our sisters have come back to haunt brothers for a ‘second chance’ – probably with a side-bag of extra mouths to feed. That is not fair.
Now having said all this, here is the twist: I have been married almost nine years to a Jamaican woman you would pass, not just for an Acholi, woman but for the girl-next-door – where parents know each other and both saw you grow up. The much demanded and much adored Acholi women have all become just like the rest. Sorry folks but truth better be told. In the case of the girl-next-door, there is no room for error because the resulting hurt from a sour relationship will sink deeper into the parents’ bones than the couple’s. However, it is also the reason marrying the boy or girl next-door is resilient to the challenges of troubled marriages. When I see other Jamaican women, I still ask myself if my wife is really Jamaican yet at the end of the day’s head-scratching dilemma I settle down to reminisce and thank God for blocking my desperately unsuccessful adventures with my African sisters at graduate schools, Some were not even attending school yet they raised their standards so high and tagged my tel. number among the ‘most-unwanted’ male calls on call-display.
In later years, as I acquired my first “real” job, a sure bi-weekly cheque (this time not from Tim Hortons or Dunkin Donuts, my previous employers), a car, a crib, etc, I began to receive more frequent phone calls than ever before. The irony of the calls was that they were not from new UFOs (Unidentified Female Objects) but from the same old bitches who are now keen to greet “Hi. Long time no see”. In the past, I would have missed a heartbeat if they ever decided to call me – which never happened except when I made the call to them.
To be honest, my observation log, created to peer-review my wife has been empty because she just beat all the odds out of me. Believe me, I am not sucking up to her but I am beginning to think marrying the right person is beyond culture/tradition, personality, ethnicity, race, nationality, finance, etc. It is sheer LUCK and I consider myself lucky. Since marrying her, I have also stopped asking why I never win any draws or lottery because I found out that I already have the biggest jackpot I would ever dream of winning – my Jamaican wife. And for 9 years we have been going to the same church, shared the same friends, and buried my father, her father and her mother. We participate in a regional marriage retreat every year at which we are always the youngest couple yet we have made friends from Montreal to Vancouver and from Ottawa to Atlanta – mostly for the fun of it. She even sends money to my mother in Kitgum without asking me – something she adamantly believes is a matter of responsibility, not a bribe.
There is something else that can sustain, not control, a relationship: religion. My wife and I do not wear our religion up our sleeves but being a part of the religious community pre-occupies our spare time with friends, volunteering with the elderly and youth, etc but most of all learning from the mistakes of a well-intentioned group of normal families who face the same daily rigmarole of life, seeing and discussing as a couple how they deal with challenges, and striving to avoid them in our marriage. Believe me, we are not the radical born-again type but we have the common fear of God and the common belief in a Supernatural Being. By all means, I enjoy a drink at home and out with friends who themselves know I can dump them at a wink for a church or community related agenda. I am also one of those who are more inclined to the Jewish faith than to Christianity because I simply don’t believe the only way to heaven is through Jesus as the Bible says (meaning no good Moslem or Buddhist qualifies), or that God will not heed to your prayers unless it is wired through and delivered by Jesus. But I pray and thank God everyday for strength, direction and blessings. Hardly are my prayers re-routed through Jesus. I talk directly to Him. Can you imagine your elder brother telling you that Bid Daddy (your father) will not pay your school fees unless the message is delivered by your brother? If I could tald to my earthly late father directly, why would the Almighty God request the service of a middleman called Jesus. It is good to have God in your family life. Whether you want to relate to him seriously or not, I beg you recognize that there is a God to help, strengthen and guide you in dealing with people – especially your spouse.
Probably the one thing I like to learn when I visit other couples in their homes is nothing. That is because a relationship should be ‘normal’ – not overpowered by wealth or overwhelmed by poverty. In between, everyone should strive to be Happy with existing possessions, family and friends. When I leave a married friends’ house without learning anything (good or bad) it probably means their’s was a ‘normal’ relationship where everything is just as they were meant to be: normal and happy, leaving me with nothing to criticize. Most of our sisters prefer leaping to the jet engine without learning to fly the propeller. I grew up in a family where I failed to understand whether we were poor or rich. But one thing I know is that I have more ‘things’ around me now than in my father’s house. But the question is ‘do they make me any poorer or richer?’. Not really, but they make me happier. My wife and I believe in appreciating what we have, what we do, and what people do for us. The one thing I also remember growing up is that my father never ever did any disciplining. That was left to that heavy-handed woman I call Mother. Life with my father was always practical – gardening, hunting, guntotting, walkabouts, and full of like-father-like son learning activities. Dude didn’t have time to discipline kids. We never feared our father but we would hesitate to assess the reason Mama is calling before hurrying to see her with a lump in the throat.
Can we, men, be a problem in a relationship? Of course, yes. In fact, husbands are more prone to creating marital problems than wives. I think the most common and over-looked mistake by men is making themselves feared by the rest of the family instead of striving to be respected. I do not want my wife and child to suck up to me because they fear me. I would rather they respected than feared me. Respect is earned, but fear is instilled – thru. various methods. Yet many men relish in telling their buddies how their wives and children fear them. Up here where I live, there are Ugandan sisters who rasied their bars so high for years they ran out of ‘eggs’ – menopaused, worthless. Some have fathered kids by diplomats who were recalled while others just cherish manufacturing children with ‘renowned’ jailbirds – those with frequent air miles for ‘doing time’.
I do not believe in breaking families – especially where children are involved. Money, surely is the root of all evil. But if I may ask, does everyone rank money above the family?. That is a ridiculous Yes answer. I hope it is not the man who thinks so. What happened to the idea of a shared bank account for mortgage, utility bills, children’s needs, etc which are the responsibility of both spouses irrespective of who earns more? What happened to a personal account for the man – to freely access and share evenings drink with friends at a joint? I never want my wife to ask me evey month if the mortgage went through because it will start to irritate me. So the best thing if for her to see it herself from the mortgage account that both of us have access to than bother me. That is one potential irritant down – especially being asked when you should be mentally unwinding after a long days work.