Page 48 - July 2021 Litterateur
P. 48

SekaBuhle faces the dilemma of quitting drinking in order to preserve his marriage. His resolve
                      to quit doesn't last long though, much to the chagrin of his articulate, self-assured and straight-
                      talking wife who chides him at every turn. The drinking escapades are not just isolated cases of
                      imbibing; they constitute moments of indulging in ' Cabinet meetings ' in the company of Thulani,
                      a  loudmouthed  friend  of  SekaBuhle,  moments  of  toxic  masculinity  bordering  on  traditional

                      masculine traits like misogyny, sexism and aggression.  Cabinet meetings , as depicted in the
                      book epitomize a time of drinking, gossiping and fooling around with the womenfolk. Thulani is a
                      hilarious character who claims superiority over the female sex: an illusion he bathes in until his
                      wife  beats  him  up  in  the  full  view  of  other  'cabinet  members  ',  for  hooking  a  brothel-  trotting
                      prostitute who claims to have lived in several countries.  He presents himself to SekaBuhle and
                      other  Cabinet members  as an expert in handling women`s affairs.

                      Basically, when Thulani hangs out with his drinking male friends in town, all they do and discuss
                      is centred on how they should flex their muscles at home as men. Thulani has appointed himself
                      to be the men`s mentor and influencer on issues of home management and love. However, when
                      his  wife  discovers  his  philandering  and  chauvinistic  overtures  and  escapades,  she  undresses
                      and disciplines him in front of his students and gilfriend. It is a dramatic turn. Thulani`s girlfriend
                      is a disgruntled and disillusioned returnee from the Diaspora.

                      The  book  draws  its  strength  from  the  limited  number  of  characters  who  effectively  present  a
                      number  of  themes.  SekaBuhle  is  an  unusual  epitome  of  African  men.  He  is  a  victim  of  verbal
                      abuse in the hands of his talkative wife. He is ridiculed, mocked and even suspects that he has
                      been fed herbs to make him a stupefied man. In a man's world, women should be submissive and
                      docile. NakaBuhle refuses to bow to that belief. She asserts her position in the marriage, she is at
                      par with her husband. She sarcastically remarks that,  The beauty of a wife-husband interaction
                      or  any  other  form  of  communication  is  in  the  observance  and  submission  to  the  co-operative
                      principle.   She  is  stating  a  fact  and  is  unapologetic  for  her  view  of  her  husband's  drinking
                      habits. She characteristically hates her in-laws and loses respect for her husband along the way.

                      Thulani, the ever- present cabinet member is faithful to  cabinet meetings . He is SekaBuhle's
                      strongest ally. He claims to possess a deep knowledge of how women behave. Does he really
                      know  what  women  want  in  a  relationship  or  in  a  marriage?  Does  he  really  understand  the
                      psychology  of  women  or  he  just  drowns  in  stereotypical  triviality?  He  claims  that  women  can
                      never  turn  down  proposals  from  men.  He  says  they  pretend  to  delay  giving  a  response  but
                      eventually, accept the proposal. He castigates SekaBuhle for being ruled by his wife. Thulani's
                      character reveals the bigoted and chauvinistic view some men hold in the society with regards to

                      women. The beating he endures from his wife towards the end of the text is symbolic of how his
                      views of women are growing irrelevant in a society that is turning feminist in nature.

                      The prevailing themes in the text are: chauvinism, women emancipation, corruption, abuse, life in
                      the Diaspora and religious escapism. Men in the novella thrive on the belief that they are superior
                      to women. SekaBuhle views NakaBuhle's voice over unfair treatment in marriage as a challenge
                      on his manhood hence he suspects he has been bewitched. Thulani is no better as he divorces a
                      woman for owning a sex toy. He refuses to question why his wife would complement her sex life
                      with a sex toy, which is obvious that she is disgruntled. Even the older generation of males prey
                      on young girls for sexual gratification, a clear sign of chauvinist tendencies.

                    Litterateur                                                                                             48

                           REDEFINING WORLD
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