I Tried Something Different

The sight of a black woman dating a white man will have most Africans thinking fast and coming up with an obvious answer for the why. “She must be looking for a better life.” They are right but also wrong. Wrong because they reckon the black woman is a hard-nosed gold-digger, but right because she’s after respect, affection and security. She’s had it with dating black men who assume kingly airs just because they bought her dinner and fancy themselves irresistible Lotharios whose oats are wild and deserving of free rein in every female’s garden. Faithful African men are a rarity.

Don’t get me wrong. These men have a great side too. They are charming and fun. They might not kiss their girl in public but they’ll take her on shopping sprees and will not wait for her birthday to get her something nice. These gifts can be as extravagant as a new car. They’ll take it upon themselves to cover most if not all of her bills even when she’s holding down a good job. If she’s jobless, they’ll bankroll her business venture, mostly, a shop. That’s their way of showing love. Unfortunately, this lasts for a short time and comes at a price – absolute submission.

Once the initial excitement wears off, her ideas will be regarded as frivolous. She’s a woman and she must listen to her boyfriend. Visiting his place will mean cooking, cleaning his pigsty, hand washing and ironing his laundry as he lounges watching TV.  It’s nothing to be frowned upon. It’s a sign he is serious about her; letting her take on a wifely role. He will encourage long-stay visits to his place, but will then make night out plans with his friends that don’t include her, effectively ruining any ‘dancing with the girls’ plans she might have had. She’s the perfect housekeeper. He will not tolerate any questions about his attitude. She’s muzzled.

He’ll try to limit her nights out and she might protest. He’ll lay in wait and pounce as soon as he knows that a man talked to her on a night out.
Explanation that it was just a guy talking to her, as mostly happens on nights out, will fall on obstinate ears. He’ll hurl infidelity accusations trumped up to guilt trip her into doing what he wants. “How will you be a good wife if you can’t show a good example now?” Bye-bye nights out. She’ll be forced to let go of her male friends. Men just want one thing. Any female friends considered feminists will have to go as well. Having seen no better from the men in her life (grand father, father, brothers, uncles), she’ll regard his behavior as a profession of love. “He loves me so much he wants me all to himself.” While submission is encouraged, it’s not considered exciting. His friends think he’s quite the stud, so his appetite for more conquests is insatiable. He’ll allow himself to be stolen by other women, over and over. She might get to know and will either engage in cat-fists with the women, ignore his behavior or simply walk out. Most choose to stay and fight for their man, hoping that marriage and kids will calm him down. 

One child and the whispered nastiness persist. Her man’s ding-dong is still navigating foreign waters. She’ll be hesitant to confront him. “What if I’m wrong?” They’ll have a second baby and maybe a third or fourth child. She’ll be exhausted from taking on all the house duties while holding down a full time job. If they have a maid and he is the overly traditional kind, he’ll insist on his wife making the meals. Their children might be whiny every evening because their mother is too busy in the kitchen to play with them and their father is authoritarian. This will be so stressful for the man that he’ll decide to go find his peace of mind at the bottom of several bottles of beer and plates of roasted pork, with his friends. Trying to talk to him about it will give him more reason to stay away longer. Nag-nag. Desperate and at her wits end, she might finally decide to confront his other women to warn them off her man. “Those wicked vultures keep throwing themselves at my man.” It never works. Here’s an example I recently came across on Ugandan social media. A woman's public message to her lover’s wife…

Translating: You Bitch Sharon, who calls herself Shan Shan on facebook. I'm reminding you that you are playing with fire. I respected you enough but you are taking this too far. I'm not the reason your man doesn't like you anymore. I advise you to go back to your auntie (for sex lessons). Do not bother me anymore. Instead of attacking me, please attack him because I never invited him to my sexy body. Concentrate on your babies rather than my sexy self, you black window bitch.

When she finally confronts him, he’ll deny everything until presented with hard evidence. If he’s a born again Christian (Pentecostal church members are close knit), he’ll grovel and ask to keep it quiet. What will the church people say? If he’s just a regular practicing Christian, he’ll call her bluff. “What will you do about it?” There is no remorse. He is the carrot holder and he knows it. Both the Law and African Tradition are on his side. Children belong to their father. He can and will deny her a divorce. Walking out on him means losing her home and leaving her children behind. If she’s been a stay at home mother without any income, investments or savings of her own, she is (for lack of a better word) screwed. If he is vindictive, and most are, he’ll take back all the gifts, deny her access to their children and might even ask her parents to refund the bride price he paid. “Your daughter is rebellious.”

She’ll run to her parents, who in all seriousness will have great advice for her. “You have to submit to your husband. The bible says so.” “A man is always right. Learn to listen to yours.” Or “He is just being a man. Go back to your family.”

So, yes, I was looking for a better life. 

One cannot help whom they fall in love with, but one can make a conscious decision whom to date. After dating the first white man, I made a conscious decision to keep it that way. My fourth was the kind of man I desired (obviously, not all are good). Consistently kind hearted, charming, smart and handsome, it was very easy to fall in love with him and to continue doing so over and over, the past 7 years. That said, if our life together were to go south ( he turns out just like the husband above) I am safe in the knowledge that the Law would prevail. I would neither lose my children nor be compelled to stay in an unhappy marriage. Now, that is peace of mind. 

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