When CNN published an article on September 11 titled, ‘I Looked at Her Lustfully, Then Kissed Her:’ Mugabe on Wooing His Wife, it went viral on the continent, as expected.
It gave me one immediate worry: First, that the wider readership should keep in mind that this isn’t some kind of frequently occurring African courtship “thing” but rather the very specific and unexpectedly awkward confession of one geriatric dictator.
I rather snippily tweeted that what Mugabe called wooing has an entirely different name considering Grace was his secretary at the time of the incident, and that it is currently destroying the lives and careers of a satisfying number of powerful men in the West, as evidence of their sexual predation catches them out.
A fellow Twitter member was kind enough to point out that while Uncle Bob was kissing his undeniably attractive secretary, his late wife Sally was terminally ill and Grace herself was a married woman.
No problem. Uncle Bob is a man of the Bible. Did this sort of thing stand in the way of King David? No. He sent his general off to war the better to comfort his ostensibly lonely spouse. Herod murdered John the Baptist for a taste of Salome’s nubile charms. Even real history is littered with precedents that make Mugabe’s creepy fondling look tame in comparison:
In 1996, a respectable four years or so after Mugabe’s wife Sally died and Grace’s former spouse Stanley Goreraza managed to drop out of the picture (how gracious of him) the “happy couple” wed. Which is why, in 2018, those of us with a visual sensitivity to words have been subjected to imagining what Robert Mugabe’s “lustful look” must be like.
Judging by her behaviour during the decline in her husband’s power and his fruitless efforts to position her as his successor, Grace Mugabe made a considered choice to make the best of a difficult, even dangerous, situation.
It is hard to know what happens to women who turn down the direct advances of an African head of state – for some reason, statistics on the phenomenon are thin on the ground.
I learnt early in life not to be bothered by how presidents and princes and celebrities who didn’t seem like particularly attractive mates managed to score way above their grade. Yes, money is a factor but there is truly no more excellent an aphrodisiac than power.
It explains how Muammar Ghaddafi was still pulling during his Jheri-curl phase, why Mugabe who was not favoured with particularly good looks and who is at least a century, perhaps two, older than his spouse, got himself a spring chicken.
It explains how Jacob Zuma has that many wives. Believe me: Just because polygamy is legal somewhere doesn’t mean that every man in that society can pull it off.
Grace Mugabe is exemplary of how women have been surviving and sometimes even thriving by exploiting the one guaranteed weakness suffered by the patriarchy: Sex. One day you are a secretary, the next you are Gucci Grace… it would take an exceptional sort of person not to make such an obvious choice in this materialistic world. If there is a hierarchy to be climbed up, and you can take the elevator, why not?
I say person because, even though sexism dictates that we blame women for all manner of sexual corruption and “gold digging,” the truth is that since time began, people have been known to exchange their attractiveness and bodies for what they want.
Don’t get me wrong: I am a pathetically dedicated believer in the power of romantic love. But I don’t confuse that for a second with the fact that marriage is a contract, no matter how we dress it up in wedding cake and sentimental ballads.
Until the sexual revolution – which hasn’t really globalised no matter what TV tries to tell you – most folks would have looked in horror at the idea of a love marriage. As Tina Turner said, quite rightly, what’s love got to do with it?
While I wait for my own Romance Novel moment of meeting my One True Love and legally binding him with the duties and obligations, mostly financial if he doesn’t mind, of the institution of marriage, let me confess to admiring the lads and lasses that did what they could to climb that social ladder with all their sexy might.
The twin daughters I imagine cradling in some rose-tinted hypothetical future with my well-to-do contracted spouse may well be named Lillith and Delilah. I like strong women.
We are barely beginning to talk about an unforeseen effect of feminism: The rise of love for sale on the part of men.
Japan, ever pragmatic, offers a variety of boyfriend experience services for a price to women who are too busy being happily single to get leg-shackled.
In Dar es Salaam, pretty young men have discovered that their ability to keep a Sugar Mama in good spirits as the stresses of the world’s fastest growing city increase with every passing day can be…rewarding.
But let us go back, reluctantly, to Grace and Robert Mugabe. Who knows, maybe they are living their best life. And yes, I am told that rich and powerful people are human too and they can have healthy and loving relationships that aren’t based on exchanging “affection” for the good things in life.
It still doesn’t remove from the power imbalance that makes it inappropriate for you to stare lustfully at your secretary and then kiss him on the hand, knowingly imperilling his existing relationship. It is a small matter of ethics that more and more women may be confronted with as the world continues to evolve into egalitarianism.
We may be facing a future in which the age-old appeal of powerful men will become un-gendered as the patriarchy continues to lose ground. Powerful women will be able to acquire the juiciest of lovers with impunity and without having to wear a bra, or make-up if they don’t feel like it.
It’s best we prepare for the said future by nipping in the bud the unsavoury practice of sexual predation of all kinds in the present, because I don’t want to read another CNN article describing the depressingly inappropriate love life of yet another geriatric with enough power to afford their delusions of lovability.
Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report. E-mail: [email protected]
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.