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Suffering and pain are not a measure of wife material

 Suffering and pain are not a measure of wife material (Photo: iStock)

When we were growing up our parents ensured they subjected us to hard conditions, apparently as a way of preparing us for an uncertain future. Their survival and that of those before them had largely been influenced by their ability to withstand tough living conditions.

The ability to suffer silently was an applaudable trait that each mother instilled in their daughters before marriage. Perhaps Darwin intended this when he said "survival for the fittest". You must find a method to survive through those trying times, even if it involves eating your family members.

The ability to hunt and fend off deadly animals, sometimes with brute force and other times by being cunning, allowed early man to survive. Even though technology has helped our circumstances, our parents made sure we didn't lose touch with more basic methods of doing things. According to them, a proper child is one who understands how to cook over a fire and dig with a jembe.

It does not matter if we have modern appliances for accomplishing these duties and that the abilities that should be emphasised are those of cooking and tilling and not the tough working circumstances. They don't consider making ugali on a gas oven to be a skill, and neither do they consider mopping the home to be a skill if you aren't bending over at a 45-degree angle to strain your back.

This is why a man who marries a CEO would still anticipate that she has some fundamental knowledge to get by in the village. When their generally educated ladies occasionally demonstrate that they can prepare food in a smoke-filled kitchen without developing red eyes and a runny nose, the males take tremendous delight in this.

If she can't squat down with her bum to the sky and ignite a firewood stove, there won't be much said about her abilities. All of our lives, our parents purposefully fed us herbs that were more bitter than what the Israelites ate during Passover, not because they could not afford a proper meal, but rather to help us develop resilience.

We ate bland foods like ugali and sukuma wiki as children not because they were nutritious, but rather as a safety precaution in case our parents passed away or lost their jobs.

Children who could not use forks to eat ugali or even vegetables without stew were considered spoilt. Because our parents did not want our future spouses to send us back because we did not know how to clean fish or hand wash clothing, we put in more work. They sent us to a decent school to better our future, but they restricted our ability to marry men from our tribe whose wives' attributes resembled their own.

The world is a village and if an ideal wife is one that tills the land with a jembe and kneads huge mounds of ugali, then women might as well travel to lands yonder where men will not judge us by our ability to endure suffering.

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