Article is by C.J Npowa

This topic reminds me of my aunt; whose story made my heart ache, even at the tender age of 14. She was beautiful, young, coca cola bottle shaped, and had a natural fair complexion (which for many is, by default, a symbol of beauty). She had 2 young boys with that my uncle (her husband); but my uncle took a second wife after a few years of marriage. Upon taking this new wife, he seemed to not pay as much attention to my aunt. She grew lonely, very lonely. One day, my uncle who was known for his love of women, caught her at a hotel with a young man. He threw the man in jail (as though the man had committed a crime), and kicked her out, keeping their now 3 boys and taking away all she had (the shop, the car, all he had ever given her). She found herself penniless and homeless. She became a pariah in the community, and ended up fleeing the country. A few years later, she died. May her soul rest in peace.

I was outraged by the story.  I thought it unjust the day I heard she was kicked out of her home for doing the very thing that her husband had done and kept doing. The double standard in the situation was glaring; but it seemed normal to all those, men and women alike, that condemned her alongside her husband.

Sometimes in life, we are forced to make decisions and act in ways that are contrary to our nature. We grow up with values and principles that are so entrenched in us that they are difficult to deviate from, even in our dreams. Then one day we wake up, look in the mirror and barely recognize who we see.

Life is a jungle. It is full of obstacles, branches in our way, forcing us to jump hoops, bend a thousand ways to be able to finally find our footing.

Things have changed quite a bit in this lovely country of mine, Cameroon. Or maybe my recollections aren’t as accurate as I thought they were. When I was growing up, it was a scandal for a woman to cheat on her husband or boyfriend. The story of my aunt is a perfect example. In a society that not only tolerates but has institutionalized polygamy, it has always been normal (and even expected) for a man not to be faithful. One has to be naïve to believe that the man who committed to monogamy on his wedding day does not believe in men being monogamous by nature.

What’s interesting is that despite the fact that polygamy dates back to Abraham in the bible (and even earlier), women have always (and continue) to react the same way Sarah did towards her maid/co-wife. Sharing partners is contrary to our nature. Funnily enough, men’s generosity with their own bodies does not necessarily extend to the bodies, or attention, of “their” women. Women, on the other hand, were less giving and more cautious of promiscuity. They didn’t want to share their men or their bodies with men other then their partners…at least that was my perception until a couple of years ago.

If women were betrayed, intimately violated or cheated on, they were still expected to deal with their hurt and frustration like the “virtuous women” they were called to be. They were supposed to be the sick patient and the doctor; bleeding and keeping the heart from bleeding, all in silence.

Today’s woman however, has evolved. She expresses her pain and hurt aloud. She voices her anger and acts out her frustration. She nags, whines, throws a tantrum, cries, dries her tears, gets cold and when she finally gets tired of no longer having feelings, she mirrors the man.

Is it rebellion, vengeance, justice or simply the pursuit of happiness?

Or is it merely the price to pay for gender equality and emancipation? It is hard to say. What is now obvious is that women are engaging in extra marital affairs just as much as men. As we own our bank accounts, our careers, our freedom to study what we like and wear what we want, abort or not marry, have sexual urges and a need for satisfaction just as high as men; shall we now own our infidelities? Has the jungle that we live in turned us all into animals in heat?

I use to hear men, especially married men, say things like “I would never go after a married woman”. Now it seems that those that are unwilling to share their own pot, don’t mind digging in someone else’s pot with two hands (LOL)! It does seem easier for everyone; after all if you are both married ADULTs engaging in ADULTery, you will be more mindful of each other’s primary obligations and privacy. That said, Bantou men have always unashamedly pursued their pants’ desire. Ending one relationship before starting another never enters their psyche. They own their infidelities like proud warriors. As a matter of fact, the propositions become quite direct if both are committed. Married women are “big girls” and know what time it is. When the madam is married, the declarations of love are broad and generic (“Oh I love thee, without you my world is grey”), but the promises of marriage and maintenance are reserved for the single and hopeful ladies.

Leave it to me, a hopeless romantic, to believe that even if such a thing must happen, it is the inevitable outcome of years of struggling to bottle down feelings for our one and only soul mate; the person we’re  meant to be with… 🙂 hihihihihhi

Have women been so disillusioned that they are willing to settle? Are they so emancipated that they are succumbing to the flesh in the same manner that men have in the past? Should they be judged? God created two sexes, both of which are initiating illicit affairs with the other; who can throw the first stone?

I ask these questions probably already knowing the answers. Indeed, there is a saying where I’m from that will probably resonate with you as well; “a thief does not like to be robbed”.

If there is one thing I do know, it is that we often find ourselves travelling the same road; but we do come from different directions. It often appears as though cheaters are egotistical people on a quest to seduce and conquer; but at times the need to fill a void is what turns these men and women into serial daters. Frustration, loneliness, the need for validation, hurt, fear, aging etc. is what often pushes one over. For others, they cannot miss anything life has to offer, because YOLO. It seems that for all those reasons, women have moved past their inhibitions to allow themselves the right to take such risks.

The fact remains that, although a girl can easily tell her girlfriend that she is having an extra marital affair; it still doesn’t change the fact that she must look left and right, and lower her voice in order to usher out such a big secret. Ironic, isn’t it?

I use to be one of those that just didn’t get it; life, for me, was black and white. There was no room for blurred lines. Today, the shells have fallen from my eyes; and even though I don’t condone adultery/cheating as a normal practice, I would never judge. I still get a bit outraged at how easy it comes to some people, but I do at least stop to ponder what led to it.

It is my hope that when we hear of such stories like my aunt’s, we’ll stop to realize that life ain’t black and white; it is a jungle that we each try to navigate thru with the tools at hand; sometimes having to put aside our high values and principles, despite our best intentions.