Sunday, October 28, 2007

Women of Africa

I am gay. A gay African man. Living and working in Africa. Not hoping to make a change there, because to me, this broad and diverse continent is home.

Yet however much I rant and rave at the lot of me and mine, there are somethings that still bother my mind worse. That are worse abuses of justice, though some would have me dead because I am gay.

I am proud. Proud to be a man, an African man.

That pride was instilled in me as I grew, when I learnt that a ‘girl’ should not do a thing better than me. When my failure at a ‘manly’ task was compared to a woman's effort. I was always told that I am not a woman. That being a woman, or being likened to a girl was the worst thing that could happen to me.

I was lucky. My father believed that the girls should also study. So they studied, and are doing well. Yet I still see the servitude and slavery that the African woman suffers.

Statistics are horrible. 70% of Ugandan women have suffered domestic violence in the previous 12 months! Some to death are battered. Something too horrible to think about. Yet society, custom, church and mosque, and many other things, bind the woman to a hell on earth.

My mother, brave woman, she broke out of it. My mother-in-law still struggles.

My heart bleeds for the women of Africa. This is to them.


I can never be an African woman:

the job’s too hard,

requirements too stringent.

Wake ’n early morning,

maybe marital duties or not-

escape the bed;

children prepare for school to go,

before breakfast and cleaning

for master o' house.

Baby cries, breast in need;

then onto the back while,

I scrubs and cleans and polish and dusts.

Maybe breakfast for me, family long flown,

before the hoe I take for hours’ long stint

baby on back, riding this horse.

Back for lunch; the prep that is-

afore younger children from school return.

Lunch done, tea to come,

and washing and brushing and sitting babies.

Dinner’s major meal, early prep to do

afore master returns, tired long day.

His shoes removes I, on my knees I greet-

a beer he sips, with none for me.

Dinner’s done, children to bed-

marital duties undone, but not before I sleep.

Sometimes, at times, often, works too heavy;

Master, my man the fists he uses-

pummel bag I play, with kicks extra.

Mothers! Women of Africa!

How you toil and break!

Beasts of burden taught,

Camels, donkeys; slavers too.

Women of Africa! Beast o’ Burden

Your work’s too hard!

Never would I an African woman be;

The works too hard- I am too weak,

I's an African man proud, your biggest burden;

too weak ‘n fragile to carry your toil.

©GayUganda 28 Oct. 07

True, the poem is not too good. But it says something there. A good day.



Anonymous said...

No, it is a very good poem. I am an American married to a Kenyan. I have visited Kenya and I too would never want the burdens that those women carry. They are the strongest women I know. Thank you for recognizing them and thank you for admitting that you could not carry their load.

Carlo said...

I disagree with you. I am an African woman. Don't have to deal with that. Not even my mother, or any of my grandmothers. Thinking about it, I don't know any woman in my extremely large extended family that was hit by a man. We have men that drink themselves silly, cheat, leave their families but not touch a woman. Besides, the burden of a woman in the fields is faced by a great number of men too. Some men more than their women. You might represent a sector of African women and kudos to that but not all African women are beasts of burden! There's a fierceness of African women I've met that shows their willingness to fight back if hit once.
Nice poem though.

gayuganda said...

Carlo, I disagree. Totally.

Have you read that New Vision link? Follow it, if you missed it when it was written. It is an article for the strong hearted.

I grew up in a family that was abusive. As i said, my mom has jumped out of that trap. Not so my mom in law.

I have treated my step mom for blows my father inflicted.

I thought this violence thing was all too common in my family, but I have realised it is very common. I have a neighbour who once told his wife not to enter the home until she had found a chicken which had escaped the coup. And he was very serious.

No Carlo, believe this, because if you do not get out of your family which may be unique and not talk of the women that are killed too, you are blind where you should be clear eyed. I urge you again, get to the link with the 70% statistic above. Read the story, and tell me how it contrasts with your statement that I would please want you to leave there.


Anonymous said...

Carlo, you must be in denial or you have never traveled any where else in the world. As an outsider (American visiting) I can see that what Gayuganda said was correct. Yes, there are differing degrees to the burden of African women, but non-the-less, they have the burden of work and home and family. EVERYTHING that I have seen, the man's burden is work only. Women work harder, longer hours BY FAR! Perhpas you are just denying that women get hit by men...that may be true. Many families are not abusive in that sense, but you HAVE to admit that women are many times second class citizens. There is NO WAY you can deny that.

Atin said...

Domestic violence (DV) in Uganda as the article clearly states is rife especially in rural areas and problems like alcoholism, unemployment, poverty and mental illness exacerbate it .

Uganda is patriarchal society and as such DV is not high on the agenda of legislators hence the failure of the Government to pass DV laws. Women are a vulnerable group in Uganda.

For more information on DV in Uganda, there have been various case studies and reports by organisations like

• Centre for Domestic prevention in Uganda
• World Health Organisation
• Uganda association of Women’s Lawyers
• Amnesty International
• Department for International Development (UK)

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