Sunday, 29 January 2012

Till Fists Do Us Part: The Domestic Violence Dilemma

 “A 27-Year-old woman of John Howard compound has been stabbed to death by her husband after a quarrel over their one year old daughter.
The woman identified as Dailes Bubala was stabbed by her husband after she told him that he was not the father to their daughter”- Zambian Watchdog
Almost on a weekly basis the media reports that another woman has died at the hands of a lover either a husband or boyfriend. The murders are becoming more gruesome by the day and resemble something from a horror movie. The events that lead these women to their fate are often trivial matters such as cold food to presumed disrespect, a jealous husband to a marital argument. None of which are worthy to take someone’s life or are they?
            The Zambia Police reports that in the last two months 13 women have been battered to death. This is despite the aggressive campaign against Gender Based Violence in November 2011. These are women who have been killed by bare hands, hacked, bludgeoned, strangled and stabbed. The men turned into beasts during the act and always sound remorse when they realise the gravity of what they have just done. It is either that there has been an increase in domestic violence over the last few years or it has always been there and it is only now that the media is bringing it to light.  Whatever, it is there is no denying that domestic violence is a major problem in our society.
            Traditionally women have been told to be submissive, and any indiscipline should be corrected by the husband with a smack or a punch. Sadly some even believe that if their men do not beat them then they are not loved. This has led to a very common phrase which often refers to marriage; ‘Shipikisha Club’ translated ‘Endure Club’. This literally means that whatever rubbish the husband does, cheats on the wife or beats her to a pulp, she should just go with the flow. As a man I wonder that don’t these women see the signs or the writing on the wall.
            Researchers say that if any form of abuse happens while dating then it is likely to occur again. Surely, women should be able to see this; they are the ones on the receiving end most of the time. I am left with drawing up my own conclusions. These include, women believe that once they marry the man, then he will change. It is a very colossal feat to believe that a man’s patterns will simply change once they are married. The other reason is that maybe the women choose to ignore whatever abuse they endure perhaps blinded by love. Their undying love for we men, appears to make them overlook our flaws. Then there are those who know exactly what they are entering into but because of society’s overwhelming pressure on women to get married or risk been ostracized they accept whatever chaff comes their way.
            In domestic violence cases, there are also the silent victims who are often overlooked, the children. Even though the children may not necessarily be physically abused they experience perhaps the worst kind of abuse, which is emotional abuse. They get to witness their parents tussling away as they hear their mother’s screams of anguish and pain. These are images that will be with them for a very long time. For some they are scarred for life. I can barely imagine the emotional torture a child would have to go through to explain to his friends that his mother was killed at the hands of his father and the father is serving out a jail sentence. Then for some they grow up believing that is the way it is supposed to be. The son’s will beat their wives and the daughters will accept being beaten by their husbands.
            It still baffles many that why these women don’t leave the abusive relationships. It is as easy as packing their bags and walking out the door, right? Well after much thought I have come to the conclusion that it is far more complex than that. If they walk out the door where do they go? Many women are still financially dependent on their husbands. They have no other sources of income hence they risk being destitute if they walk out. Then there is the factor of the children. A mother cannot bear the thought of leaving her children; most will stay in an unhappy and abusive marriage for the sake of the children. Then there is the little problem of society’s perception if she walks out. It is a whole lot easier for a 40 year-old man to get re-married than it is for a 40 year-old woman.
            So we know all about the problem of domestic violence and how serious it is. The million dollar question, what is the solution to the problem? Without doubt the media spotlight on the issue needs to continue with even greater vigour. Protection services such as the police service needs to be strengthened with capacity to handle domestic violence cases. The police need to have trained counselors and welfare personnel to assist them. It is common to hear of a woman reporting a domestic violence case only to withdraw it a couple of hours later. It is a trend that needs address. I would propose the laws being much stiffer, perhaps a domestic violence case should be a case against the people and should not be easier to withdraw. Perhaps one of the most effective solution would be the family, friends and society. The victims of domestic violence need to be supported to walk out the door and then given the ability to financially stand on their two feet.
            By and large, there is so much that can be talked about in regards to domestic violence. The debate can go on about who is at fault and who is to blame, what are the reasons that my fellow male species can act in such despicable ways. The bottom line will continue to be that domestic violence should have no place in our society. It is time we raise our voices and act instead of giving a blind eye.

Monday, 23 January 2012

The Landlords Must Be Crazy

           Shelter is regarded as a basic human right. It is expected that every person should have a roof above their heads. In as much as this might be an agreed fact and it is written in many conventions, documents and it is the source of many workshops, looking for accommodation is not easy. Trying to find a house in Lusaka to rent is a nightmare. It literary drives you crazy and sucks the life out of you. My main problem really is not so much with house hunting, but rather the landlords. There appears to be some madness going around and I only have one explanation, the landlords must be smoking something.
            The prices that some landlords are asking for their houses are simply ridiculous and bordering on insanity. How on this beautiful mother Zambia can a room, shower and toilet cost K 2 million? If this does not scream “INSANE PLEASE HELP!!” Then I do not know what does. Honestly this is daylight robbery; this is taking capitalism to the extremes. I know it is laissez-faire but come on something needs to be done. There is liberation of the market and then there is plain exploitation of a situation. Landlords should get off whatever drugs they are on when pricing their houses or cottages and get back their senses because we desperately need them to be sane.
I do understand that the shortage of accommodation is perhaps pushing the prices skywards but mwe bantu there are areas that certain prices can be acceptable. You would expect to have high accommodation prices in suburbs such as Kabulonga, Roma, Ibex and the like. However, these days even rental prices in areas such as Kabwata, Chilenje, Mtendere are have similar prices, how?
If that is not enough then you have those landlords who just wake up one day and decide to increase the rent. Threatening you, it is either you pay or you leave. Now what are you supposed to do in such a situation but fork out because you are at the landlord’s mercy. In the event that you decline to be pushed around, you wind back into the nightmare of house hunting.
To add insult to an injury which is already bleeding Agents are a real piece of work. They have mushroomed on every corner looking for their next victim. Taking you on a wild goose chase just so they can pocket K60, 000 for every viewing that you attend. Despite telling them the type of house you are looking for, the price and location, they deliberately give a deaf ear to this. Instead they choose to hear what they think you should have said, so they call you up with houses that when you view are either too far or are run down. Still they expect to be paid the viewing fee.
There seriously needs to be some regulation in the real estate industry in this country to avoid the exploitation of some of us. Nearly half of the salary goes to paying rent because of the exorbitant rentals charged. There should be a framework under which landlords and agents should operate under. The Banks, communication companies, mining companies all have a regulator, so even the real estate’s sector should be regulated. We need rentals to be reasonable and houses should be valued appropriately according to the location and what it contains.
I know the answer is to build or buy my own house, but that does not solve the current situation for the tenant. In the meantime all we can hope for is that the Landlords get off whatever they are smoking, so that we can sleep in peace without the fear of being kicked out the next day.

Monday, 16 January 2012

My Issue with Zambians (Part 1)

Before I write what I want to say let me begin with a disclaimer. I am a proud Zambian and I love my country dearly. There is no other place that I would rather stay. I was born in this country and I want to be buried in this country. When I refer to Zambians I mean it in general terms and not in its entirety. It is enough of the patriotism so you may allow me to speak my mind, which is my issue with Zambians.

We as Zambians are excellent dreamers and talkers. Sit down with a Zambian and it would not be hard not to notice that there are many things that frustrate them. They are also not afraid to share with you everything that is going wrong around them. If it is not corruption then it is the garbage in the streets. If it is not the Zambian football team losing then it is the lack of unemployment. It would not be long before you discover that there is a big pity party going around this nation. We all know what is wrong with our families, our communities and the nation. We can explain the story so well that it would definitely make a good script for a Hollywood movie. Despite all this knowledge however, no one is willing to take the stance and make the change.

They say that there is corruption in government and we need a new breed of leaders. We want leaders who are selfless and will be there to develop this nation and not fatten their pockets. We are always looking for this leader to come along like the messiah to save us from our misery. I am afraid Zambians will have to wait for a long time for a leader with such a caliber. The reason is we are always searching for someone to do things for us and do not want to do it on our own. Instead we come up with pathetic excuses that politics is a dirty game or we are not as charismatic. If politics is a dirty game why don’t we go and clean up the mess of a dirty game instead of complaining all the time and pointing an accusing finger.

Then there are those Zambians, who are always good at pointing the accusing finger but refuse to see the log in their own eye. They talk about all the corruption that is crippling the nation and how corruption is the cause for the underdevelopment of this beautiful nation. Sadly, in as much as we do talk about corruption, we go ahead and convince ourselves that we have to be corrupt in this nation if we want to get things done. We are so quick to ask for the lynching of the leaders who are corrupt and almost thirsting for their blood. What about you who bribes the police officer to let you off the hook for over speeding? You who slots the cashier at the passport officer a buck so your passport can come out quick? You who greases the official so you can pass your driver’s test? Do not go very far, simply look at the man in the mirror and you will see where the problem begins. My former boss once told me,
“Pay the fine and learn the lesson.”  Indeed there is a reason why fines are there.
If you part away with your hard earned cash because you were over speeding, next time do you think you are going to do a Formula 1 on the same road? I do not think so.

We sing the same chorus every year that roads are flooded and our homes are becoming islands. Every year it is déjà vu, and there is nothing different. Constantly saying that the drainage systems need to be unblocked and the garbage needs to be collected. We are the very same people who are blocking them in the first place and I think it is now bordering on insanity. We are the same people who are throwing drink bottles out the window, carelessly wrapping everything in plastic even for one single mango, forgetting the use of a rubbish bin. Still we wonder why the drainages are blocked. Absolute madness.

Monday, 9 January 2012

What On Earth Did You Call Me?

There are many things that I am grateful for to my parents. Among the things that I am thankful for is what they decided to call me. Peter is not a bad name to call a child. However, in my life time I have come across people whose names have left me rather perplexed. The names must I say the least are unique. If I were them I would have considered suing my parents. As my generation begins to pop out the babies, it is important to take a critical thought at what names you will give your kids.

The naming of the child may be taken as a trivial matter and not necessarily given much consideration. To the parents naming their child the name proposed may sound unique and even funny but the consequences on the child can last for a life time. Some children are named out of the circumstances that were going at the time of their birth. For example people from Eastern Province will name their children names such as Misozi, Mabvuto or Masuzyo if during that period there was grief or problems. I do understand the logic around the naming the child under the circumstance, however, I think it is unfair on them. It is a constant reminder of the problems and tears that were there. Everyone wants to forget the hurtful past and having a child named after the unfortunate situation is rather unfair. I have known people with such names and every time they experience a problem or situation they find blame in what they were named. They believe that what they were called is more like a curse or a bad omen even though it may not directly have a direct relation.

Then there are those parents who name their children with adjectives. This is perhaps in a hope that the name will be self fulfilling. In no offense, I have heard people called Intelligent, Clever, Beautiful, Pretty and many others. It often happens that the child does not turn up to be so intelligent or does not resemble the face that sailed a thousand ships. Now let me warn parents against giving children such names. It is an unnecessary pressure on the child to live up to the name. Imagine a child called Intelligent and he is always bottom of the class. It is a known fact that there is bullying and mockery in schools. Giving a child a strange name is only setting up your child as bait for bullying and mockery. They would have their friends making fun of their names and coming up with ways to make them the joke of the class. This in my opinion is torture on the child that could have been avoided. According to research done by Pelham and et al at the State University of New York, he states that children with unique or funny names tend to develop self esteem issues. They are often embarrassed about their names and usually do not feel comfortable. This then often leads to poor performance in school. I have friends who have changed their names at school. When I visit them at home and call them by their new names, I am told that they do not stay there. This was clear proof that they are not proud of their names.

David Figlio of the National Bureau of Economic Research carried out a research on names. His findings were that people tend to develop perceptions based on names. He studied the school system in Florida where he found that teachers developed perceptions on pupils based on their names. He found that individuals who had strange names, teachers developed perceptions that they were less likely to be good in mathematics and science. Children with strange names were unlikely to be recommended for the gifted classes.

In African culture we have a tendency of naming children after someone, an aunt, uncle, grandfather or grandmother. Now this might be a good way of honouring someone or remembering someone close at heart. However, I have made a general observation regarding such a trend. The child tends to develop some characteristics of the person they are named after. I personally am named after my father’s father and my mother’s uncle. Both individuals were enterprising. Lo and behold, I also do have that enterprising knack in my bones, coincidence maybe. I have also noticed a child named after someone with a short temper and you wonder why your child has a short fuse.

Naming a child may seem like a very funny process. It may sound unique on a baby, but bear in mind that the baby is going to grow. It is the child who has to walk ground and introducing themselves by that name. Therefore, in case you have names that are out of this world, name something else maybe a shop or a pet but please not your child. I am sure that you may spare them a lot of ridicule, self esteem issues by being considerate.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Me and My Stupid Resolutions

           The festive season is over and we are finally getting back to the harsh realities of life. Before 2011 concluded some of us made resolutions that we hope to fulfill in this year. Some of our resolutions were long lists while for some they were only three lines. I personally have to admit I have been thinking a lot about what my resolutions should be. I have an overview of what my goals for this year are. However, like every other year, there seems to be resolutions that appear everytime. Once again in 2011 I miserably failed to fulfill them. This has left me wondering where did it all go wrong?
            After much soul searching and self inspection I was able to pin point where I had failed. You see in 2010 everyone was so ambitious and wishing me a prosperous new year. I rode that wave of well wishes and immediately thought that I could accomplish anything. Therefore I made the resolutions believing that come 2012 I will have a good report of 2011. Alas if this was an exam I think I could have been bordering on a C. My first point of failure is that I did not write down my resolutions. I had them all in my head, how brilliant of me. I thought only people with puny brains and short memories need to write their resolutions and I did not fall into that category. However, I fold my tail and admit that I actually should have written them down, this is because they would have been my point of reference. Each time I would open my laptop I would be reminded of what I wrote down at the beginning of the year. With nothing written down, I was unable to have a point of reference except what was floating in my mind. The resolution in my mind did change on numerous times.
            One of my major resolutions was to complete a book I have been working on for the last five years. It is still uncompleted. I have then discovered the reason for this, like many other people who make resolutions we do not really set out a plan on how we are going to achieve that goal. In my case the resolution was simply  to complete the book but I really did not state or plan out how exactly I was going to achieve that target. In hind sight I should have written that I would attempt completing at least a chapter every two weeks, put in a time frame, and constantly review this plan to check if I am on track.
            So once again as part of my 2012 resolutions one of them is to complete the book. However, it is different this time around because I am actually making a road map on how exactly I am going to do that. I am hoping that come 2013 this resolution will not appear. If for any reason it does, then I guess it is just a stupid resolution and it is time I scrap it off all together. Happy 2012!!