Specioza Wandira Kazibwe was Vice President of Uganda from 1994 to 2003. She was the first woman in Africa to hold the position of VP of a sovereign nation. Unfortunately for this power player, the position didn’t excuse her from family tribulations and in 2002 Kazibwe announced that she had put an end to her 28-year marriage to engineer Charles Kazibwe.
The surgeon and politician shocked Uganda and other nations with news that her marriage was literally a battlefield and that her engineer husband was a ruthless man. Dr. Kazibwe’s matrimonial problems became the subject of gossip from 1996, two years after taking on the second highest office in the country.
Though the official reason for the break up was irreconcilable differences, rumours stated that her husband wasn’t comfortable with his wife’s success and felt undermined.
I don’t want to be mistaken for a woman – Sam Ngango
In Rwanda, the tall and goatee bearded Sam Ngango, a mechanic in Santre, Kicukiro, vows that he would never act the way the engineer did. He stresses however, that he would never want to find himself in the position where his wife earns more than him.
“Regardless of the fact that I don’t fancy a woman who earns more than me or holds a higher position in society, I would never lay a finger on a lady, more so my wife. Such women usually act like men and I don’t want to be in a home where I’m mistaken for a woman,” Ngango says while nodding his head.
Ngango adds that even when you do everything right, a woman who is more powerful will always look down on you.
She won’t respect a man because she is the man – James Niyigena
James Niyigena, a short and muscular man co-owns a hardware shop in town. His appearance is quite raggedy and the sight of his dirty overalls gives you the impression that he is still living single. It turns out that he plans to get married to his fiancé next year. He, like Ngango, feels like if she was richer, he wouldn’t go through with it.
“Some of my friends who have been in this situation have ended up getting divorced. When a woman has more power than a man she will take arguments to the next level and never want to be corrected. It’s hard to be with such a woman and she won’t respect you as a man because she is the man,” he emphasises.
If he treats you right, who cares how much he makes?
Allen* works for one of the most recognised NGO’s in the world; she earns a five digit salary in dollars and owns a storey house in Kimironko. With this success, sophisticated Allen jokes around and says that she would never waste time looking for a more successful man.
“I have most of the things I need in life and my man doesn’t have to have the same. A man will always be a man even when he loses his job. If he can treat me right and give me the affection I need as well as being a good father to the kids, then he is all the man I need and for me, that’s where I place my respect,” she says moving her head to match her words.
If he doesn’t work hard, he can’t be respected
Priscilla*, an engineer in a government institution says that a man gains respect from how much he toils for his family.
The single independent mid 30-year-old hopes to find a man with a bigger account than hers.
“I value a hardworking man. I wouldn’t date a man who earns less no matter how amazing he is, it just doesn’t work that way. I would feel happier and a lot more secure with a man that works harder than I do,” she says in between interruptions from her phone.
Can a marriage survive the power struggle?
Mariam, a wholesale trader in Kigali who imports her goods from Uganda, is married with two children.
She makes an estimated Rwf250, 000 to 300,000 a month while her husband earns a fixed salary of Rwf45, 000 a month.
She says her story is quite different from other women and she does not really have a choice in the matter. She also says women have worked their way to the top and are earning lots of money.
“Even though he earns less, I take the money from the business and we split it into different responsibilities like it was earned by the both of us. My husband was the source of part of my capital and we have been able to work it out. We are very happy and we never fight about who earns more,” Mariam says.
Mariam says that women should stop looking for men who earn more and learn to be partners. It is the only key to a happy marriage.