Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Cultural Differences

We read one of two newspapers here, depending on what’s available. Our preference is The Daily Monitor, which seems to be a little bit more liberal (but is actually more poorly written). Our second choice is The New Vision. However, The New Vision is a must on Saturdays because they have an “Intimacy” section, which always includes the column “Mystery Date,” in which the paper sends two people out on a blind date and then interviews each person afterwards. Here is an excerpt from last week’s from the guy’s, Herbert’s, perspective (typos, grammatical errors theirs, not mine):

“Anxiety gripped me as my heart pumped in anticipation…While I waited, anxiety hit me again and raised my pulse rate…When I set my eyes on her my breath was taken away. She enveloped me in a warm bare hug. It was like a reunion of long time friends marked by instant attraction…I enjoyed every bit of it with deep passion…I admired the beauty of her glowing eyes as she looked at me. I plan to write her a love poem The beauty that lies within and I told her about it. I shall then take her out to a quiet environment and recite it sweetly to her while gazing straight in her eyes…”

They are often this dramatic, but last week’s date was sort of disappointing in comparison to others I’ve read.

The real treat in last week’s “Intimacy” section was an interview with Pastor William Muwanguzi and his wife, Pastor Athina Muwanguzi. They have been married for five years. Here are some of the choice snippets:

What would you do if you caught her in adultery?
Since our marriage is based on a Christian background, I would follow scriptures not emotions. But I do not believe she can do it. Surely, what would Athina look for in another man? I think I would have detected such queer behaviour in her before.
What have you learnt in marriage?
That man and woman are interdependent. Much as a man needs a woman; no woman can live happily without a man.
Do you like it when she kneels to greet or give you something?*
Of course. I do. Every man would want his wife to be submissive. However, I never force her to do anything.

*It is a common practice for women to kneel when greeting a man, though much less so in urban areas. I have not actually seen it done.

Would you leave if you found out that he was going out with another woman?
That would not be wise. The right thing is to show him where he went wrong and encourage him to change. Secondly, a satisfied man rarely meanders. Is such a thing happens, you revisit love notes and make sure love is back on the right track. But I do not believe a pastor can do that.
When he annoys you, how long does it take you to make up?
I always make efforts to make up whether it is him or me in the wrong. Above all, a woman is expected to submit to her husband.
What is the secret in him?
First of all, he is my best friend. Secondly, he behaves as if he is my father. I believe that is what every woman would want in a man.

I’m not writing this post to get all angry feminist bitchy on you, though of course reading stuff like this in the paper gets me worked up. I understand that I’m coming at such gender issues from a Western perspective and there’s little I can do or say here to change thousands of years of tradition. I actually do enjoy, on some level, finding interviews like this not just because it’s a fascinating cultural study, but also because it helps me to better understand why people cheer at me when I drive down the road, why the Bin-It guy won’t take me seriously by ever actually showing up, why our landlord and the car dealership guy and the refrigerator guy and every other guy will only speak to J when I’m standing right there and seem a little surprised if I deign to ask a question. This goes both ways: When Jo. did our laundry the other day, it rained in the afternoon and she had to take the clothes off the line while they were still wet. J and I together re-hung the damp clothes the next morning. There were two guys cutting grass behind our apartment and gave J some questioning looks. I suppose it’s not often they see a man doing laundry.

J has tried to tell me that I can’t take The New Vision too seriously. That the views expressed therein are not necessarily representative of the majority. Still, I find it a little frightening that both pastors interviewed are teaching and encouraging their congregations to follow such views.

But, you know, I don’t really like to argue with my husband. I’m sure he’s right.

1 comment:

Luke P. said...

This was an excellent post Han, extremely interesting. The punchline was great - Dad