The Government of Uganda and the media need a marriage counsellor.
The media is called the Fourth Estate, a term dating back to the old regime of monarchical France where the King took advice and public opinion from a periodical gathering of the three ‘estates’: the First Estate the Clergy, the Second the Nobility, and the Third Estate the tradesmen and commoners.
These estates met principally to discuss taxation – which was how the monarchy was funded at the time.
The seating arrangement in the House had each Estate sitting distinctly for obvious reasons. The journalists, who reported on the discussions during those meetings, were allocated a special area from which to observe and note proceedings to report to the masses outside.
They were the Fourth Estate.
And they were considered by many to be most important because whereas the Third represented the majority of the people, it was the Fourth Estate that told the people what exactly their representatives, lords, religious leaders and monarchs had negotiated in taxes to be levied.
The same format generally existed across Europe and, eventually, the democratic world.
To this day, the media forms part of the democratic government process – which I always call the management of society.
And the Democratic Government is not a distant thing that belongs to individuals sitting in an office, or driving large vehicles or toting guns. There should be no “they” when we talk of the government.
The government is you and I. Those are Our Members of Parliament, Our Judges, Our Ministers, Our Soldiers, Our Policemen, that is Our President, and those are Our Journalists.
And if the relationship between the journalists, collectively called the media, and the Government, is like that between a man and his wife, then perhaps we, the people, are the children being looked after by our government.
Banish immediately the backward, retrogressive and stupid stance that a woman is less than a man – this is 2013 and equality is no longer a catch phrase, unless your stance is justification for your mother bringing forth you, the individual.
Yes: the man is the head of the home; the bread-winner or, most likely, earns more; the accounting officer; the chief; the boss; physically stronger and therefore the protector; most likely the disciplinarian; the one who lays down the law for the kids and relatives in general; the one who makes the final decision on domestic affairs; and lots more.
But the woman: she maintains domestic harmony in various ways; she manages the ‘soft’ side of things without which chaos would reign – maids, menus, the children and whatnot; she keeps the man sane and in line; she nags him on occasion, and makes it uncomfortable for him to stay out partying with his friends all night, or stops him spending on toys before paying the school fees bill.
But women make different types of wives: there is the wife who insists on squeezing into the type of micro-mini skirt that would make Fr. Simon Lokodo frown (or otherwise) and then going out to the nightclub with her friends for a night of vodka and giggling; the wife who indulges in the salacious and cannot be trusted to spend unsupervised time with the mother-in-law or the children without making them draw breath as if they swallowed an unexpected pepper.
There is also the wife who dresses up nice and decent and likes to engage in that incessant conspiracy-theory type of gossip with her friends, constantly exchanging suspicions about their respective husbands being involved in all sorts of wrong-doing, never trusting the poor, well-meaning chaps for a minute and always monitoring their movements.
And there are different types of husbands: the well-developed, mature one with wealth and means, and health, who travels first class and maintains a pristine, modern home that everybody admires; and the drunken, confused, unkempt one who takes the few pitiful earnings of the household and buys trinkets and alcohol instead of investing in the kids’ future or health for all…
But men are powerful regardless of what type of husband they make, and of that there is no question. They are the stronger gender, the assertive, outstanding, loud, boisterous bosses that head the home.
Women, on the other hand, are powerful in their subtlety, which is why when we come across a woman speaking strongly or loudly we frown a little bit, whereas a man foaming in anger is simply in his element. The Roman Catholics know the power of a woman – which is why they pray through Mother Mary as their intercessor.
It’s the same way many children will place difficult requests to their fathers by asking their mothers. And that’s one of the ways we, ordinary people, use the media to get messages across to the State – by stating our opinions through comments in stories or letters to the editors or straight-up opinion pieces.
We expect that the government people are buying up newspapers to keep their fingers on the pulse of the nation – our pulse. Just as in the home, all men know that they pay keen attention to what their wives say or think, and spend all their time circumnavigating a mine field of nuances in order to avoid the discomfort of a displeased wife, as one William Congreve wrote as far back as 1697 and many a husband knows, “Heav’n has no rage, like love to hatred turn’d, nor hell a fury, like a woman scorn’d”.
And all women know how far to push their husbands without crossing that ugly line. It’s a distance well practiced, I believe, but I am no marriage counsellor.
The counsellor to sort out this relationship, which can teeter but not be cast asunder, might quote Bible verses re: “Wives, submit to your husbands…” such that one side is placated where needs be – for I know that if the problem at hand is the photocopy of the letter, it can be provided without itts source being named; and others for the husband re: “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” or “…husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you…”.
The relationship can be salvaged. It must be salvaged, for the sake of the children, the property, and our family name as a nation. And this is the hour to do so for, you see, the man has thrown his wife out of the house, but he hasn’t began beating her.