Don't become a Peter Moyo in an abusive marriage

Kwanele Ndlovu Singles Lane
The writer suggests Peter Moyo's drawn out saga with Old Mutual can be seen as a corporate version of an abused woman who always goes back to 'hold the knife on the sharp side of the blade'.
The writer suggests Peter Moyo's drawn out saga with Old Mutual can be seen as a corporate version of an abused woman who always goes back to 'hold the knife on the sharp side of the blade'.
Image: Supplied

As a woman, and in the midst of the current climate of gender-based violence and killings of young women, I have watched the theatrics of the corporate wrestle from a vantage point.

I cannot help but get a fright at just how Old Mutual's Peter Moyo and his insistence to preserve his title is remnant of the "bekezela" spirit we grew up seeing in our mothers.

You know, the wives who were lectured by an entire village of old wise women that a wife shall never desert her marriage. The ones who went back again and again to the very marital homes they had been ejected from and locked out of to demand the forever that was vowed at the altar.

I know a few women who pulled a Moyo in their marriages. The makotis, who went back to hold the knife on the sharp side of the blade. The imbokodos who went back to take more blows on the ribs.

I bet we all know one or two, or maybe three who stayed for the sake of their children.

When I heard a radio interview in which Moyo said he does not understand what they mean when they say the relationship with the board had irretrievably broken down, I was triggered.

Who would have thought that a purely commercial dispute over a fiduciary relationship would thrust me into depression over the patterns of abusive marriage and women's interpretations of their conjugal commitments?

I can't help but think of the wife everyone commends for saving her marriage. The one praised for insisting on being restored as the lawfully wedded wife, regardless of the fact that her husband had pronounced that he no longer wanted her.

With my relative, it had been said that her husband came back from home one day and violently instructed that his wife leave his house.

Unprovoked, they said, as if he had been possessed by an evil spirit that made her repulsive to him. Everyone had coined a theory to excuse his actions.

Everything from witchcraft to the assessment of the women's attitude and the manner in which she spoke to her husband. And, of course, the possibility that he feels emasculated by her constantly challenging his authority.

His infidelity is only natural as a man. The physical abuse was probably provoked by her. His alcoholism is his only way of escaping a cold home.

And she could not possibly mean that she would leave her husband, deprive her children of their father, sour relations between the two families and bear the indignity of a divorce just because her husband made a few mistakes.

I remember the day she wore her long skirt and tied her doek tight around her head as if to restrain all reasoning and common sense, and tainting the conversation by the men delegated to negotiate her return.

The less she said, the better her position and the more humble and submissive she appeared.

She sat with her head bowed down and only answered when spoken to. She had to apologise for making their home hostile. She promised to serve him better and be a better wife.

She remains married and respectable, and occasionally nurses a bruise.

I do admire the tenacity and fighting spirit displayed by Moyo. But the same cannot be said of wives.

But I know for sure that, had a few more women accepted that their marriages had broken down; had a few more walked away from where they were no longer wanted; and had a few spoken publicly about the challenges they prayed silently about, a few of them would be alive today.

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