Men fall into three main categories: the misogynists, the egotistical brutes and the chauvinistic shenzis.
The misogynists are inherently negative psychopaths, who apparently hate everything and everybody, including themselves.
The egotistical brutes regard women as mere “things”. We also call this approach “objectification”.
“Yours is the kind of beauty that men love to destroy.” I heard this startling statement from an elegantly articulate and dazzling young woman earlier this year. She said her grandmother had said it to her in Germany, where her family had fled from the Rwandese Genocide. I did not get this young person’s name, nor did I find out how she had come to be studying at one of Uganda’s top-notch women’s colleges. Her presence at the Ugandan writers’ function where she shared with us seemed to be perfectly natural.
You know, in any case, that, like most ordinary Ugandans, I do not make any difference between Ugandans and Rwandese in all matters social and national. This is why we find it difficult to understand why our leaders should travel all the way to Luanda (and not the Luanda of Kenya but of Angola) in order to resolve their “differences”.
But before I tell you why I pricked my ears at the sister’s (or her grandmother’s) provocative remark, I should let you into two of my romantic secrets. Do not tell anyone else, please. My first secret is that I still get deeply and almost irresistibly attracted to some women. I strongly admire and desire them and of course wish that they would notice me.
If there is an age at which this urge stops, I certainly have not reached it, and I do not think I ever will. In any case, I just do not wish to see the day. I should hasten to add, however, that I thoroughly disapprove of those predatory males that go lusting after their sons’ girlfriends or daughters’ agemates, even to the extent of eloping with them, as in the story I recently heard from Narok. Such behaviour is simply preposterous.
Anyway, my second well-guarded romantic secret is that I first seriously fell in love just around this time of year, September or October, in 1966. That is just a few 53 years ago, but the memories are still vivid. Indeed, I recently realised that every time the northern autumn comes around, I tend to get into an inexplicable romantic mood. In North America, the autumn is called the “fall”, which supposedly refers to the deciduous trees’ shedding their leaves, after turning into all sorts of glorious colours, in preparation for the winter. So, allowing myself the rare indulgence of an Americanism, I am calling this heady emotional spell of mine “falling in love in the fall”.
It hit me recently with a special force as I watched a long-time acquaintance of mine, and fellow founder member of FEMRITE (the Uganda Women Writers Association) make a presentation at an international literary conference in Kampala. This is a sister I have known and deeply respected for well over two decades, following with fascination her creative, administrative and activist exploits on both the local and international stages.
This time, however, as I sat riveted, like the rest of her audience, to her spellbinding stage presence, her mellifluous eloquence and the impeccable logic of her presentation, I felt an electrifying thrill run through me. The lady was, I thought, “just about as perfect as she could be”. I am not mentioning many names, but those in the know will realise that that quote is a literal translation of the name Kasemiire, the leading character in the first novel published by my dear sister, way back in 1996.