They toiled in the fields day in and day out. The rains came, so was the scorching sun. But they all remained determined to yield a bumper harvest. They believed the field was their only source of income. Mr Rwizi and family had managed to send their kids to school. They managed to get some proceeds from their agricultural activities mainly cotton. They were deeply engaged in cash crop production so as to earn a livelihood. But, it was the abusive husband who controlled the cash, just like in most patriarchal societies. Like in most African countries women’s access to and control of economic resources and opportunities, including land remains limited and schewed in favour of men. These structural inequalities and exclusion further necessitated a gendered difference in access to and control over income and resources not only to the Rwizi family but to many other households in Musana Communal lands.
To this end, the Rwizi family had family conflicts now and again, just like in any other normal family set up. They had numerous quarrels, but their quarrels had started long back, dating back to the days of the Beijing Platform. Most men in the village spoke strongly against the so called empowerment and ‘domination’ of women over men. The male folk believed that women had assumed the power to and power over them. Regrettably, the feminists and the women movement seem to have failed to explicitly articulate the concept and practice of women’s empowerment in the post Beijing platform. Consequently, the society seemed to be at war. Thus, many gendered conflicts emerged in the post Beijing platform. Such conflicts were the order of the day in the Musana communal lands.
Generally, men viewed the Beijing Platform as a forum that advocated for the transfer/shift of the levers of power from men to women. Thus, many men were strongly against the praxis of women’s empowerment. In the rural areas the narrative about men saying ‘we cannot be ruled by petticoat government’ was so common in many rural villages in Africa. This saying reinforces the redundant and patriarchal thinking in most African communities which puts men at the centre of decision making processes. Largely, there is a Cultural belief in Africa based on the concept of male supremacy which advocates that men should be in charge of decision making in many key processes stemming from the household to the entire outside community.
It was after selling the cotton that Mr Rwizi went with the whole money to the City. Her wife had no say over the use and allocation of the money. ‘I cannot be controlled by a woman, I paid bride price to her family, I bought her…’ that was Mr Rwizi’s famous saying. Some said lady luck could not smile on Mr Rwizi as he went to seek the services of a prostitute who swindled the whole money accrued from the sale of cotton. He stayed in the in the once famous Mushandirapamwe Hotel. Upon hearing that her husband had swindled all the money they had struggled to earn, Mrs Rwizi took pesticides and took her life.
A life of an innocent woman was lost! Why, why, but why couldn’t she wait to enjoy the fruits all of her sacrifices. Her wishes of seeing her children growing and graduating followed her into a crudely dug grave. The news of Mrs Rwizi’s death spread like a veld fire in the entire Musana village. The village was gripped with a somber mood. Everyone was grieving. People were just whispering in low tones saying ‘How can Men act like that…’ some were saying ‘she should have not taken her life, instead she should have sought counseling and advice from village elders’. Some were already gossiping and chuckling in giggles saying ‘this can’t be done to me, Never my dead BODY’. The last born to the deceased woman wept uncontrollably as she kept on shouting ‘I want to go too! I want to go Too!’, tears were all over as she cried, and ‘I want to go with mom’….
They say if you are not touched, you will never be touched….