What you need to know:
- Just as iron sharpens iron, so does a man raise a man. We need to expose our children to father figures, even if their biological fathers are missing in action.
- We end a cycle of abuse when our children see a different version of masculinity.
One mid-afternoon while I was enjoying a nice, long solitary walk in the back route of our estate, I heard noises ahead.
I took the corner and walked smack into a man and woman fighting, or rather, the woman being battered. You cannot call this a fair fight really — not by any war rule book — a man hitting a woman.
It is like a child and an adult fighting. One always has the advantage of muscle power.
Anyway, being the season of social distancing, there were very few people around save for a few other joggers.
“Hey! Haiya!” I shouted at the pair.
The angry man was punching away at the woman while her screams and insults followed each of his blows. I was scared the man would turn to me as well, yet I did not want just to turn a blind eye and walk away the Nairobi style.
I hung on, making noises like a hen that has sighted a hawk but dares not challenge it.
I also knew my mother would turn in her grave if I did nothing to help a fellow woman being violated. What to do? Shout and look around for the other half of our species that was given the muscles.
While the commotion was starting to attract some curious onlookers, none of us was doing anything constructive to help the situation.
‘Come fight me!’
Until an old gentleman hobbled over, attempting to run even though he had a walking cane and a visible limp.
He was shouting and gesticulating. It seems he had parked on the opposite side of the road and trotted over.
A younger man, probably his son or driver, who could barely keep up as he followed him, extending a ringing phone to him.
“Wacha! Stop it!” He shouted at the pair, banging the ground with his walking cane. He waved the young man and the ringing phone away.
“Stop that right now!”
We all stopped whatever we were doing. The fighting couple froze; looking like errant kids caught stealing mangoes, save for the whimpering from the woman.
This older gentleman had a voice and presence. It was so commanding that I am convinced he is either a retired military general or high school principal.
“Has the world run out of men that you can fight? Eh? Come fight me!” the old man shouted.
He asked the man to stand up and to help the woman up.
“Get her off the ground. Now!” he said, raising his cane when the offending batterer hesitated.
He lectured not just the wife batterer but all of us. One question that he kept asking the fighting man over and over again was, “Who is your father? Who raised you?”
That man will think twice before lifting a hand on a woman ever again. It might have been only a 10- minute lecture from an old man, but the wisdom in those gentleman’s words were like a mentorship session.
It takes a man to chastise another. I am sure this man had his wife, mother, sister and other women tell him that it is indeed unmanly to hit a woman.
The women in his life probably had begged him to stop the violence, even threatened him in different ways.
But this old man seemed to touch a nerve just with his rebuke, because the hitherto macho man quietly cried, all the bravado flew out of him when faced by a fellow man.
Just as iron sharpens iron, so does a man raise a man. We need to expose our children to father figures, even if their biological fathers are missing in action.
We end a cycle of abuse when our children see a different version of masculinity.
I shared this experience with someone and she commented that a woman’s life is about perseverance and forbearance. I beg to differ.
Much as I believe that marriage is an excellently imperfect relationship, abuse must never be part of it, nor should it be tolerated, excused or normalised.
It is broken, insecure men that abuse women. And more men need to come out to mentor, reprimand and call out their fellow men who abuse the very power they are given as heads of their homes.
Karimi Gatimi is a wife who believes in marriage. email@example.com