• April 3rd, 2020

Kabbe: A patriarchy where brothers are more equal than sisters


Namibia has seen the level of violence against women rise to unimaginable levels. Knives pierce through the hearts of women as they pierce through the hearts of goats and sheep at slaughterhouses. Women have had their heads chopped off as the chickens have had theirs chopped off for the festivities of humanity. Solutions to this devilish undertaking have played elusive to the nation. The terminology “passion killing” has been introduced to the entire nation, though the imagination of someone killing the one they claim to love the most is farfetched. Intervention measures have taken different forms and shapes in an endeavour to arrest this devilish practice. 

Efforts have shifted from trying to stop the scourge of violence to understanding what could be its actual genesis. Questions about what could be done have been posed by both the decision makers and the commoners roaming the streets. The nation does not seem to understand how it could grab this problem by its roots. It is total chaos and one wonders what could put an end to this madness. 

I strongly believe the smell of the rat could be traced right into these patriarchal communities in which we live.  This article seeks to drive home my argument that the problem is imbedded in our society, and not anywhere else. I will use the communities of the Zambezi Region in general, and those of the Kabbe District in particular to drive home my stance. I pick on Kabbe because it is the community I know better, as it is where I was born and bred. 

A glance at the definition of “a patriarchy” leaves one wondering whether or not the communities of the Zambezi Region in general, and that of the Kabbe District in particular, are not a reflection of primitive societies the contemporary world defies. Solis (2013) defines patriarchy as a primitive social organisation in which authority is exercised by a male head of the family. Facio (2018) sees it as a present day unjust social system that subordinates, discriminates or oppresses women. Feminists see a patriarchy as a form of organisation that distributes power unequally between men and women to the detriment of women.   

Kabbe District is a community where sisters are born to be married off, and a few heads of cows, heifers and oxen are enough to see the family bury the traces of their sister in their family forever. She is not expected back as that would mean returning the beasts that exchanged hands when she was married off.

She is expected to die at her husband’s village and even her remains should not be brought back to her father’s home. Her children are not expected to trace their maternal lineage even in the death of their mother. These children would only be desired back in their maternal villages if they occupied higher positions in government or in the local traditional authority hierarchy. This is the district where a father’s house is not a daughter’s home. There is a general agreement that women and everything relating to women is worth less than men and everything relating to men. 

The children born to Kabbe women with men from other districts are not Kabbe children. The children’s maternal grandparents have nothing to say on their daughter’s descendants. Children belong with the menfolk of the district. This has spelt out utter hardships for many out there. Men came from different parts of the world and bore children with women of Kabbe. These men left the district without a trace. The children born out of these associations are never accepted by their uncles. The uncles decide where their sisters and their sisters’ children should go. These prehistorical mentalities are back and are well cherished by the men of the district. 

The “well-read” males and females are expected to remain silent at meetings even if the decisions were being deliberated by village suckers. The wisdom is for the menfolk whose paternal lineage could be claimed in Kabbe. One wonders how civilised and learned beings could let others define their identities in such a manner. They do not require advanced skills to understand that everyone comes from their place of birth. The women and their children born with men from different districts are expected to remain silent until they die. In the death of a woman, it is her brothers who decide on the actual burial spot against the wishes of the deceased’s children.

Pieces of land are first distributed to those who claim paternal lineage in the district. If your mother was born on one side of the road that traverses Kabbe, and your father on the other side of the same road, you only belong to one side of the road. If a water point is on the side of the road on which your mother was born, you will have to seek permission from your cousins there for your herds of cattle to get a sip of water. Cases of siblings fighting over  pond water that is assumed to be more of those whose fathers come from Kabbe, than those whose fathers come from different districts, are common. Cases of siblings fighting over pieces of land have erupted in the area.

The Vekuhane Traditional Authority has been flooded with cases of cousins fighting over pieces of land that belong to all of them. Reports from nearby districts have it that death has so far resulted from such skirmishes. They are all cases of brothers trying to silence their sisters’ children, and nephews attempting to see off their aunts’ children. This has plunged the Kabbe District into absolute chaos and one wonders who on earth will swoop on this area and end this barbaric madness. 

Reports of issues of this nature have become so frequent in the area as women and their children are trying to shake off the unbearable dominance they have suffered from their brothers and their brothers’ sons for a long time. Land disputes have become so common in the east of the Zambezi Region, and a great deal of such cases emanate from fights for either paternal or maternal supremacy. It is a situation where cousins simply refuse to accept each other and advance cultural practices that have since lost relevance to justify their failure to live together.

The boys born in this area grow with the knowledge that women have no rights in society. They are taught to believe women are not to be consulted on anything that concerns the community in which they live. My argument is that this could feed into the kind of treatment to which these boys would subject their own wives and sisters in their adulthood. The violence men direct at their womenfolk could be the inevitable result of how society raise the “African Boy Child” vis-à-vis the “African Girl Child”.  

*Simataa Silume is a commentator on social issues. The issues raised in this article are his personal views and do not necessarily represent those of his employer.  


Staff Reporter
2020-03-06 08:53:42 | 28 days ago

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