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I blame your mother

Why do women in Johannesburg have to be so lazy?! To say that I am a traditionalist would be a wild inaccuracy. Yes, I am a proud Zulu man. Yes, I do actually count Zulu royalty among my ancestors. Yes, I believe there should be a clear head of the household and it should wear boxers not G-strings or French knickers except maybe during those intimate moments, but I am open-minded and believe myself to be a true citizen of the universe where all are equal. Some have even ventured to call me progressive and “the epitome of the modern Zulu man”, but damn it, a man is a man and should be treated as such!

So it is not a surprise that I have struggled with relationships in Jozi and it can’t all be about the fact that my body resembles that of the current D’Angelo (not the naked, statuesque D’Angelo of that Untitled (How Does It Feel) video he made in his prime) I look more like the current, out of shape D’Angelo, the dude who now looks like he couldn’t run down The Buff Toddler on the loose in the park. So there has got to be another reason for my inability to find myself in a relationship based in Johannesburg that I believe I could be in forever, and I have figured out that my problem is one of a cultural clash of sorts.

The problem is that I come from KwaZulu-Natal and the women there are waaay different than the average Johannesburg woman. My problem, I have diagnosed, is that I have been spoilt in my upbringing and cannot understand the modernised version of the female I am meant to fall in love with and hopefully marry.

Allow me for a bit to sing the praises of the KZN women so that you may understand where I’m coming from. We’ll start with respect, I doubt there is a cultural group, note I say group here not the anomalies, that is more respectful then the AmaZulu and the women follow suit. Women from KZN are generally more respectful; I’m not saying they bow down, get on their knees and crawl to you when bringing you food any more, but in my experience they tend to be more respectful to themselves, their community and especially their men.

Let us get on to beauty; here I speak of natural, unmanufactured beauty. You can walk through a poor neighbourhood like Section K Kwa-Mashu and at every corner be blinded by beautiful women who have not even the slightest inkling of how gorgeous they are. This means they do not have the burden of being uppity about it because beauty is quite the norm in those parts, not the exception and not manufactured either. One of my friends would look at a simple girl running errands in town and say: “Sumo, if you took that girl, sent her to a spa a few times to get her skin right, then to a salon for hair and nails and then took her on a shopping spree and dressed her right, she would be good enough to be a pin-up model.” And it is true, in these women not knowing their potential there is a lurking humbleness that you don’t get with someone who has to constantly manufacture themselves every morning to look, well, lookable.

Then there’s what KZN women are willing to do for a guy who is their significant other. It is normal and ends up being quite expected that if you are with a KZN woman she will do some things around the house when she comes to visit. Typically, she will give it up proper of course and however you like it. And then in the morning, she will clean the house/shack/flat/backroom, wash your clothes and the bedding you happily defiled together, make breakfast and generally leave you all together better off and happier than before she arrived there.

And I am not talking about a poor or uneducated woman here who does these things for financial security from a guy, no I am talking about the professional woman — doctors, respected businesswomen and industry leaders. No matter what their occupation they treat their men right, it is what they grew up with, it is how their mothers trained them — a good woman keeps a clean house and a happy man. “Keeps” being the operative word here.

It has been ten years since I started having serious relationships ie post-teenage years, and having lived in The Kingdom for over eight of those years, I came to be accustomed to certain things like a functional transport system, warm weather, the sea and the KZN woman in all her splendour. It is fortunate that I find myself where I am in my career, but the only snag is the location. I had to leave my beloved KZN and move to this mine dump called Jozi to be able to do the nine-to-five. I moved reluctantly. I had to for my career advancement and material gain but I often wonder about what I lost in the little things that my Premier Banker cannot account for.

I lost the pleasure of just going to the beach on weekend afternoons for a braai with friends. I lost the privilege of not having to drive everywhere and I lost the tender care of the well-endowed KZN woman — oh, how I miss her.

Let us talk for a moment about what I have gained. Yes I live in a very nice neighbourhood which is relatively safe. I work for a … well I work, which is good enough and I am able to take care of stuff financially and my family does not need to need as much any more, but I now have to contend with a whole different breed of women as a trade-off.

I know I generalised about the KZN woman, but speaking of their lesser-gifted cousins, the Jozi women, I shall only call on my experiences and those that have been related to me from first-hand experience by men I have known a long time and trust. I’ll start with covering the same aspects as I did with the KZN goddess.

Respect of the Jozi woman … (drawing a blank, maybe I’ll come back to this later).

Aesthetic appeal, for I doubt if manufactured it should still be called beauty. Ah now here is a topic I may delve in to; the Jozi bird is well put together, let us hand her that crown, ladies and gentlemen. The Jozi bird works hard and spends hard at attaining what comes naturally to some. Jenny Button suits are expensive, I hear. Make up costs in the thousands a month, the hair (probably shaved off the head of some unfortunate Vietnamese girl) sells for up to a thousand for a few precious tufts and the cars they drive leave us guys drooling. Of course, it is a whole different story when you look at this bird early in the morning before she rises and adorns herself. (If you hadn’t guessed it, you will have to go catch your own damn worm with this one, she needs her beauty sleep every day.)

Which leads me to how domesticated these birds are, well, they are not domesticated at all as far as I can tell. I have experienced a lady who after I had put in a whole night’s work, good work might I add while she enjoyed the rides, woke up in the morning, took a shower, dressed and went and sat in front of the TV. When she realised I wasn’t going to make her breakfast she picked up her keys, kissed me goodbye and left telling me not to worry — she would grab breakfast at Europa. I was fazed as I did the bed and cleaned up the mess that we had made together.

Now I have had many conversations about this “problem” with a great many lasses from this mine dump and all of those chats have concluded in me being called a typical Zulu chauvinist who has no respect for women and their newly-attained status of equality and their progress in life. I make good arguments though for my case and all are piled up under the “male chauvinism” banner and disregarded.

And then these very same ladies complain about their men leaving them after long relationships to marry the more domesticated type of woman who often is from the Kingdom. They say that, us Zulu men especially, will date them and have a good time and all the while keep uMakoti (bride) from the Kingdom whom we eventually will marry, often to their surprise and shock and tears and questioning why and name-calling on Facebook.

Well, let me offer a possible reason why this happens in a little anecdote. Ladies, I have a friend who did just that. He dated a lovely young woman from Jozi who seemingly had it all going for her except that, according to him, she wasn’t much of a wife at all. One can understand having a maid in this day and age, everyone works, yes, but fundamentally a wife needs to take care of her husband.

My friend related to me how different his experiences were with the two women in his life. The woman from Jozi had it all, but did not even do the smallest things for him. He shared chores with her, often had to cook and clean because she was tired from work and he never had anything brought to him on a tray by her, ever!

With the KZN woman he did next to nothing, unless he wanted to. When she was around stuff just magically happened around the house. He would forget where the dishwasher was located and even what colour the kitchen walls were because he had no need to ever go in there. This woman also worked, but made sure that he needed for nothing. He says to me that he took a look at his future and how it would look like and decided that the future where he didn’t have to do house work, worry about dinner or what he would wear to work was the future that was right for him. So he married the KZN woman at the expense of the Jozi bird. Of course he was sworn at on Facebook by all her friends, but hey, he is happy at home with his wife who he loves dearly.

The Jozi woman believes she is worldlier, believes she doesn’t “need” a man if that’s what Cosmo is telling her that month and appreciates the European ideals more than her culture. I do not blame her, her culture or what is left of it is a confusing mixture of all of the country’s cultural bits and pieces (including some European) created by the location of this great City of Gold and all the unique cultures it swallowed up to spit out what we know now as Johannesburg. I venture that this is to her detriment.

You will experience the traditionally un-wifely attributes of her personality in her aggression (explained as: she is a go-getter, a DIY, modern woman), her self-centeredness (she cannot settle before she climbs right up that corporate ladder, is seen at the right places, with the right people, doing the latest right thing, wearing the latest right pieces … ), her coldness (she won’t trust another with her heart, will probably not marry until she is deep in her thirties, is willing to deny a child a father because he is not of the correct financial and/or social standing). In all her considerations, the Jozi woman has always got one question in mind “What’s in it for me?” which I believe is no basis for a happy home, but I may be wrong.

I am not trying to argue for you ladies regressing into the dark ages of being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. I’m just saying that a little goes a long way. You don’t have to take off his shoes when he comes home from work on all fours, but you could make the guy feel a little bit more appreciated in his own home (or yours for that matter). Trust me, if you make him feel at home with you he will never leave. We are much like babies, we need pampering and caring, we need to be made to feel like we are the centre of your universe — is that too much to ask?

The Jozi woman I describe is not an isolated incident; there are loads of testimonies to her character from many different men and not all black men either. This is how she is and which leads me to believe that this is how she was raised. So I don’t blame her, I blame her mother for how she has turned out — this laziness shit would have never flown at my house under my mothers watch, trust me, there would have literally been murders!

I rest for now. Next week I’ll write about the courtship experience. The work that men put into courtship vs the reward vs the work that women put into courtship (nothing). Since we are all equal now, I think all the work should be shared, including those traditionally “male” tasks.

The Sumo
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  • The Sumo

    The Sumo is a strapping young man in his late 20s who considers himself the ultimate transitional South African. Born and raised in a KwaZulu-Natal township near Durban, he was part of the first group of black initiates into the "multiracial" education system. He was (and is) always in contrast to the norm, black in "white" schools, a blazer-wearing coconut in the township streets, and now fat in a sea of conventional thinness in the corporate world. This, and a lifetime of junk-food consumption and beer guzzling, has culminated in the man you will come to know as the Sumo. See life through this man's eyes; see life through lard.