THE CLOSET is not a province exclusive to gay people, there are as many closets as there are things to come clean about and accept, things society will commend or disgrace. At times we emerge out of the closet (or chose to be open about the things we do) unaware and other times we are well aware of our actions, brushing aside what society will think about the matter.
The reasons for our actions vary of course; at times it is just life taking its course and at times we are driven by the urge to be ‘cool’. Over the course of the previous year, there were ‘trends’ that emerged in our society; some that we were proud to embrace and some that we frowned upon. Let’s take a look at some of the things that kept society buzzing last year.
The age old practice of body art in its various forms be it tattoos, piercings and evenconspicuous hair styles, is increasingly becoming common and embraced by people from all walks of life. The reasons for the trends vary from deep personal meanings to spirituality to just wanting to look good. Previously viewed as a path for deviants, it is becoming more common to spot church goers and others considered responsible people with various forms of body art.
But the trend becoming common has not been without a fight, the conservatives in the society have and still play the critics role to the trend with some calling it ‘self mutilation’ and others terming it ‘a cry for attention’. Though it has not stopped, lovers of body art are having it their way and their voice has been heard.
Religion versus Atheism
Over the years, religion, which was as a result of man’s belief in a higher power responsible for his productivity and that of his animals and land, has been challenged by an unapologetic brand that stand by logic and scientific facts. Pope Francis, earlier this year, made comments to atheists urging them to abide by their consciences and practice virtue even though they do not believe in God.
Though the country and the region has been known to be fanatically religious, atheism is increasingly becoming prevalent and somehow associated with intellect and free will. Others who have chosen the path say it was after waiting for the said God but He never showed up, causing them to take the tasks up on their own.
But religious leaders of the Christian and Muslim faith say they are not losing sleep over the new trend saying that most people are still believers and the power of God is evident to all those who would want to see it.
At some point in the year, tales of teenagers drinking and using drugs when they are out of school made headlines and became increasingly common. The scary thing is that they were not indulging in seedy hideouts; they were drinking openly in bars and restaurants frequented by people old enough to be their parents.
The police arrested a number of them and some bar owners who were selling the alcohol to them, but that was not enough to scare them away as it only heightened their tactics causing the police to call for increased responsibility from all quarters, parents and bar owners.
The source of their funds to purchase alcohol and drugs was discovered to be pocket money from their parents which they saved up and pooled to buy liquor and other illegal stuff.
Parents were urged to be better role models to their children and also be more keen on how their children spend their time and their pocket money.
Alcohol and drug addiction
Still on alcohol and drug use, there was talk on why some people end up becoming addicts and if it is possible to turn back from their ways.
Doctors said that no level of addiction cannot be treated but addicts need to consult their doctors for proper advice and therapy.
Among the reasons that cause people to be dependent on drugs and alcohol are social and personal problems that they rarely talk about and keep to themselves. Though substance use is not a way out, it helps them forget their troubles momentarily and acts as an escape route.
Men and GBV
For ages men have been viewed as perpetrators of Gender Based Violence and Women as victims, but slowly, roles are changing and a large number of men are on the receiving end. An assessment programme conducted by RWAMREC, (Rwanda Men Resource Centre), a men’s right organisation, found out that men are suffering in silence.
Their main reason for being quiet amidst the abuse is the traditional and conservative African culture which frowns upon men speaking out as victims. The negative masculinity has made most of them voiceless victims.
The increased awareness by the anti-GBV department helped increase the numbers of men who came out to report with the Chief Inspector of Police and head of Anti GBV Desk, Linda Nkuranga, confirming that in recent days, some are coming out to report.
But despite not coming out to report, the constitution makes provisions for both men and women to report cases and receive fair judgment, without their sex standing in the way.
Divorce is another trend that is moving from a read about in international media houses to a reality filed in our courts. Probably more people are coming to the realisation that life is too short to be stuck in an unhappy marriage or that probably the consequences of unhappy marriages are becoming more evident.
It emerged that more and more people are no longer looking at divorce as a problem but as a solution or route to avoid worse problems like violence.
To avoid the occurrence of divorces, experts like marriage counselors advised that premarital counseling should be taken more seriously.
Women bringing home the bacon
As women and girl child empowerment is being stepped up in every possible way, one of the consequences is having women earn more than their husbands.
For some men, having their wives earn more than them is out of the question and for others it doesn’t matter. It also brought about questions of the role of wives in families where they earn more than their husbands and if they will respect their husbands.
Girls who are now labeled sex workers were once innocent and naïve virgins. In the previous year, it emerged that a major contribution to the turn of events is unemployment and lack of a brighter future in sight.
Most turn to the dark ways of the night after moving into the city as house girls and later find that the incomes are not sustainable.
However there are initiatives to get them off the streets and get them to have meaning skills that they can apply to have incomes.
There were other smaller topics that didn’t make news but had weight. It was discussed that child names have an impact on the character of a child as they grow up.
It was also in 2013 that we argued on age and marriage. When is the right time to get married? And what is the right gap between partners? Some saw no problem with it while others said it was women who are after old men’s money that didn’t mind having husbands as old as their fathers.
It was however concluded that it is not okay for a man to marry a much younger lady.
It also emerged that to beat the steep costs of living, young employees choose to share houses with friends as it is cheaper and they avoid loneliness.
On social media, a prevalent topic was homosexuality, especially after the Ugandan parliament illegalised it. The lines in the debate on homosexuality were drawn between those who see it as a vice that should be nipped before it spreads and others who call for the critics to mind their own business and look away.
It was an eventful year, we argue for and against trends and behaviours proving our diversity and our need to hold on to some of our old traits and at the same time change.
Whatever the new year brings, it emerges strongly that change is inevitable.