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Prejudice is the real enemy of our women

Aug 12 2018 06:00
Muzi Kuzwayo

The prodigal daughter. That is unthinkable in current society. The Bible tells the story of the prodigal son who took his share of the estate and left home. He was welcomed back with open arms when he returned and celebrated by killing a fattened calf.

But what would have happened had the son been a daughter?

In many cultures, the daughter would not have been entitled to the estate in the first place.

There are many families in our communities who still believe that their daughters are not entitled to the father’s wealth.

If there is a business, when the parents die, it automatically falls into the hands of the first born son. The house goes to the last born son, who will be the guardian of the family home.

Mojalefa is the name that is often given to these lucky inheriters, which means “the one who consumes the wealth”.

Think about it – they are not expected to create the wealth or to multiply it. They’re supposed to eat it. Meanwhile, the daughters are left to the mercy of their husbands-to-be.

This kind of thinking, which might have been relevant in the times of our forefathers, no longer works in the modern economy where women have the same financial needs as men.

One of the main reasons the house falls into the hands of the last born son is that it is seen as some kind of insurance.

It is assumed that he will live the longest therefore should one of the daughters come back from her marriage, she will be able to come back “home”.

Pity the wife of the last born son who has to live with her sisters-in-law who’ve come back home.

Freedom, and the freedom to err and fail, should not be the exclusive preserve of men.

The daughters must be given the same opportunity too because it is only when we have the freedom to try out new things, fall, fail and learn that we can truly advance.

Progress cannot be transplanted; it often demands pain and patience.

This means that in a family business, the daughters must be given the same amount of exposure and training.

They must be given the opportunity to make mistakes and, like the prodigal son, they must also be forgiven when they do silly things. But most important they must understand that the family believes in them and is willing to risk its future on them.

“What is wrong with groovin’? Can’t a girl have a little happy?” asked Letta Mbulu in her wailing song, written by the now late Hugh Masekela.

Obviously I can never understand the pressures that a woman goes through. My knowledge and perhaps understanding of women is filled with boyhood gossip and grown-up-men prejudices of a bygone era, from which I cannot claim to be immune.

Men my age are like foreign trees that have been transplanted into a new era. It is impossible to go back and we cannot change the new world to suit us, but the choice is ours to make. We can choose to wilt with bitterness and burden ourselves with insecurity or we can be the unsurpassed evergreens that make the young dream of the good old days.

We must open the world to the concept of the prodigal daughter who is loved with all her human flaws and frailties because no human being is complete without them.

We know that superman is true only in children’s movies, so we must not expect our daughters to be wonder women.

*Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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women  |  sa economy  |  empowerment  |  gender inequalilty
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