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UGANDA: Legislator insisted on advocating for wife beating, NRM thug violence

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Onesmus Twinamasiko, you are no different from a village drunk

When you opened your mouth over a week ago, you said this of wife beating, “You need to touch her a bit, you tackle her, beat her somehow to really streamline her.”

By Dr. Opiyo Oloya

Dear Onesmus Twinamasiko, Member of Parliament, you are famous worldwide as a wife- beater. When you opened your mouth over a week ago, you said this of wife beating, “You need to touch her a bit, you tackle her, beat her somehow to really streamline her.”

This became the unsolicited comment heard around the world. The BBC talked about it. Al Jazeera talked about it. Canada’s CBC service talked about it. Newspapers wrote about it. Online, you are everywhere.

Thinking perhaps you were misquoted, BBC Africa news and Current Affairs reporter Veronique Edwards gave you a golden opportunity for a do-over, so you could explain what you really meant and, hopefully, clear up any misunderstanding.

Instead what global listeners got was unintelligible gibberish that made me question how a man so obviously well educated, no less with a Master of Arts degree in mass communication, could be so wrong. Here is what I got from listening to your painfully childish explanation on BBC.

Thing were better in the old days, you said. Marriages are in crisis today. Divorce is at an all-time high. Couples must be transparent with one another. A slap or two from the husband is the best medicine for marital problems. It wakes and alerts the wife to an ongoing problem.

Similarly, a slap or two from the wife communicates a problem in the marriage that needs sorting out.  Your conclusion: Physical violence prevents more serious problems such as a wife plotting to murder her husband from carrying out the plot.

Goodness, in the interview, you desperately tried to justify your earlier statement about wife-beating by suggesting that you are okay with your wife slapping you. Simply, it was a lame attempt and pure cowardice on your part. Your wife slapping you does not remove the simple fact that you are advocating domestic violence.  It is not okay.

Stripped of your office of Member of Parliament and wasted university education, you are at par with the village drunk. He is the man who gets so intoxicated with local booze that he urinates on himself. Then aiming to divert attention from his humiliation, he pulls himself up, wet pants and all, to assert his authority and whatever dignity he still has.

He orders his wife about, growling to make himself seem like a man. He slaps her. He pushes her around. According to you, this was normal in those long gone days you speak of, when women were considered property, beasts of burden, paid for with dowry or bride price.

Whatever nonsense emanated from the mouth of a man was accepted without question. Even a slap or two was considered part of the bargain. That was the price women had to pay for being married. It came with the package. But as President Yoweri Museveni rightfully points out, wife beating is for cowards.

The wife beater is not a man—certainly if manhood is the recognition and acceptance of the dignity and human worth of every man, woman and child in society. He is a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal who lives in the past when womenfolk were freely abused by men.  He is a monster who employs violence on women and children to cling to the myth of manhood.

Try as you did on BBC to elevate your mister-slap-your-wife-a-bit into a sensitive man who just wants to be understood by his wife, your hero is a wife-beater who deludes himself of being in control of his family. Truth be told, lacking the inner fortitude to stand up as real men do, weak men (like you) advocate violence against women.

Naturally, like a scared and scarred mongrel dog, tail tucked between its legs, the insecure man hides his fear of the quiet strength of his wife by snarling at her, fangs bared. Beat your wife to gain respect, love, care and a happy marriage? Women have made strides in Uganda and around the world in all spheres of life.

Women, to paraphrase the late Chinua Achebe in Things fall Apart, like the Eneke bird, have learned to fly without perching Man, what are you smoking?   In reality, he drives a sharp dagger between himself, her and the children. He can physically beat her (as you suggest he should), but he could never get to the core of who she is.

You don’t get to know a woman by hurting her, ever. By battering her with your fists, she remains a mystery. But here is what your wasted university education never taught you.  Women have made strides in Uganda and around the world in all spheres of life. Women, to paraphrase the late Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart, like the Eneke bird, have learned to fly without perching. They are farmers. They are teachers.

They are doctors. They are politicians. They are members of parliament. Try as he might, your man hero could never measure up to women like your boss in Uganda Parliament—The Right Honourable Rebecca Kadaga. Or for that matter the many thousands of role models for other women. What these women say and do speak louder than the slap any man could ever deliver.

They give positive encouragement to women everywhere to stand up, stay strong and walk toward their personal goals.  What this means is this. The wife-beating man you are building as a hero and role model for our young men to emulate is very defective. He cannot survive the modern married life.

He is maladapted and malfunctioning in the ever changing society where women are leaders. He is forever confused, literally, shrivelled in his pants, waiting for the opportunity to slap somebody’s daughter or sister so he can feel manhood.  Yet, there he stands like a big lump of log, yearning for love and respect but finding neither.

The nakedness of his nothingness—inability to be a real man— shows to the world. Your husband prototype is dead on arrival (DOA). Simply, the false equivalence of machismo that you are pushing was debunked decades ago. They don’t man make. Here, instead, is what I see when I look at the next generations of successful, happy and deeply loved husbands and fathers. These young boys and men are growing up seeing women as human first.

They feel, respect and love them as equal partners, especially sensitive to them. They do not define themselves by what they can do to women (like slap them up a little bit as you suggest). Rather, they define themselves by what they can achieve as couples, supporting each other, learning together to be successful and loving partners. Many are already here and applying these very principles in their marriages today.

Look around you. Yes, indeed, the successful and much-loved husband whips up dinner in no time, lulls the baby to sleep and sits down with his wife to discuss the next project or some family issues. What he is not is a useless pot-bellied tyrant who sits around a pot of malwa, drinking beer long gone stale while chatting useless politics, returning home at midnight to pummel his sad wife.

Our modern young husband is not afraid to spend quality time with his men friends but his family comes first. So mister MP, take this advice instead. Look at every opportunity to honour the womenfolk in your life, lift them up, encourage them to reach for the stars. And, believe me, in turn, the women in your life will lift you up alongside them. When women win, men win too.

You would be absolutely nothing, a mere spit in a spittoon, a walking dead whose tomorrow is the same black hole as his yesterday, if it were not for the women in your life. Slapping anyone, let alone your wife is not the recipe for a solid marriage. My mother, the late Jeridah Awilo Oloya, whose untimely passing from a snake bite a year ago yesterday, taught me those wise words long before I married. I stuck to them in my marriage.   Twitter: @opiyooloya

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