By Daniel Kakuru
It was November, 2014. A man from Guangzhou in China walked into an Apple shop. Purchased 99 iPhone 6s (the then most expensive phone on earth). Assembled them into the shape of a human heart. Rumor has it, these phones cost him approximately the equivalent of his two-year salary. His intention was to mark the Chinese Singles’ Day by proposing marriage to the person he believed was his girlfriend. A throng of well-wishers gathered outside the guy’s workplace the way the biblical 5000 did when Jesus was dishing out free bread and fish. The two lovebirds stood at the centre of the heart. He clutched a bouquet of flowers. Bent the knee, so his heartfelt proposal could come alive. The well-wishers drew their smartphones to capture this historic event. Except, nothing did go according to plan. She, unimpressed by all this brouhaha, rejected him outrightly in the presence of friends and family. She weaved on her feet, showed him her back and died out into the crowd.
On the 2023 Valentines’ Day, an even more absurd video crawled out of Kisementi and spread all over Twitter. In this clip, a daughter of Eve is blindfolded and tugged by a friend into a restaurant space. Quite a handful of invited guests have turned up to bear witness to this chronological event. Once the fold is removed from her face, her lips part, revealing a set of excellent teeth laced with those shiny things planned kids and American rappers be having in their mouths. Apparently, she is cheerful to see her boyfriend. Or at least, that’s what the whole shebang believes. He stands at ease, a wider smile on his face. He bathes in the moment of glory. Camera flashes might blind the vulnerable eyes at this moment. She reaches out – reluctantly – and takes the bouquet of red flowers from his hands. They have a visibly scratchy but inaudible conversation while the guests cheer them on.
And then he bends the knee.
You might have watched that scene from Game of Thrones when Jon Snow meets Daenerys Targaryen for the first time in her palace and she demands that he bends the knee before her and he declines by giving clever explanations? Well this occurrence in Kisementi is nothing similar to what you watch in your fantasy Game of Thrones. In Kisementi, the gentleman consciously bends the way Catholics do when they’re receiving Holy Communion. He Draws a ring from his back pocket and presents it to her. She does not give him the finger so he can put the ring onto it as expected.
‘Say yes!’ ‘Say yes!’ ‘Say yes!’ ring the demands from the crowd. But she is not one to buckle under any form of pressure. She throws the flowers in his face, storms out of the building never to be seen again.
A few weeks back, the official Twitter account of a Kampala based radio station, 100.2 Galaxy FM Zzina posted a picture of a young man proposing marriage to his girlfriend and captioned it, ‘he made a tough decision.’ When you look at the picture for the first time, there’s nothing wrong with the whole spectacle. You will be left wondering what this account’s worthless admin is alluding to by claiming the handsome guy made a tough decision. Is the girl not in the image of God? Is marriage so tough a decision that it should be heckled about? But when you slip into the comments’ section, you’ll come to a rude awakening. You will be reminded of the fact that ours is a society that despises women who live without thick hips and buttocks. Another look at the picture and you’re in class. The guy is on his knees. The ring is already on the lady’s finger and she’s giggling like a sheep. But where is her ‘nyash’? Did she forget it at home on a charger? What sort of legs are those? It appears like God needs to do some corrections on her; shift her left leg to the right, and her right leg to the left. And if her incorrigible God is content with this piece of art, I’ve heard of things like FACO; can’t she get in touch with them and have her body remodeled? If neither of those alternatives is accessible to her, why is a woman with that body shape wearing such a dress? It just doesn’t look right. The online bullies might not be entirely right to make a fuss of her sunken buttocks but, man, she could have dressed better than that.
But what if her boyfriend had not chosen to go for the cheap popularity that comes with public marriage proposals? Would he have humiliated her? Would we have seen the picture and bequeathed to them our unwelcome opinions on how they should or not live their lives? I thought we had all agreed that marriage should be a stealthy affair between two people and not a public project? Or was I wrong?
My old man told me he did not propose marriage to my mother. Albeit the ineradicable fact that they had shared a class at a certain higher institution of learning, they had nippily lost contact after school, found gainful employment in dissimilar parts of the country and gone about their banal lives. But as they say, nobody ever really evaded their fate; so one day in the 1980’s, shortly after Gen. Museveni and his cronies had captured power, the two former classmates happened upon each other. She was on a journey that would last her a few days. She stopped in a small township looking for a place to spend the night and proceed the following morning. She had hardly alighted when she beheld this young hunk whose face was familiar. One thing led to another. He was her host that night. The sun always rises, no matter how dark the night is, you know? So they bade each other farewell the following morning but nothing was the same ever again.
The concept of weekend marriages is not new; it was here before all of us were born. These guys made sure to spend the rest of their weekends in each other’s company. But one weekend she turned up with more luggage than usual and annunciated to him that she had come to stay. A few strident words escaped my old man’s mouth. What do you mean, you’re here to stay? I don’t even have a bed; we’ve been spending our nights on the cold floor, like serpents! I own nothing; not even a saucepan! Who are you to drag me into a marriage? It was not until she told him she was with child that his tone changed and he opened the door to her. That, lads, is how my parents got married.
I come from a family tree of the Baitira clan in Ankole where men are the how and why of everything. They are the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. We do not kneel down; not even in church. We do not allow our women to kneel before us in greeting; we hug our sisters, mothers, their mothers, and shake hands depending on the circumstances. And to prove their stubbornness, our ancestors deliberated that our totem should be breast milk. So when you see us with more bone than flesh, you know why – we never got to know the taste of breast milk and neither will our descendants. If one of the women from our family tree were to be caught kneeling before a human being, they’d be summarily excommunicated. But it would be worse if a man from my clan appeared on these disreputable social media platforms kneeling before a woman, prostrating himself at her feet, begging her to please be his wife. Such effrontery is unpardonable. Even a summary execution would not suffice. Because, what sort of self-disrespect is that?
I abhor the whole idea of public marriage proposals. Please lads, just stop it. Don’t be seen doing it in a public space. Why are you kneeling before a woman whose breasts are looking down at you in disdain? Why are you kneeling down at the feet of a woman who has been smashed by more men than she can remember? Why are you begging a world war veteran to please be your wife? Why do you even want to get married in the first place? What about the majority of us who hit her and binned her before we learned how to pronounce her second botanical name? Aren’t we seated somewhere pitying you, poor lad?
When it comes to public marriage proposals, it should be the women kneeling down and begging you to please cart the burden of being their husbands; for that is the order of nature. And you should be turning them down, and humiliating them at every opportunity.
About the author:
The writer is a worthless MugOfPorridge. His articles have appeared sporadically in print and online. He drinks and smokes and hopes to die by suicide.