Curfew Tames Husbands In Juba

"When the married women of Juba heard the presidential decree to declare the curfew, they ran into the streets with dance, song, and high-pitched ululation - South Sudanese women sound best!"

By Victor Lugala

The married women of Juba are walking with their heads held high like Serena Williams. They are in good mood. Their spirits are high. They are excited. Sexy even. They are smiling a lot, frolicking, and laughing the loud and carefree African laughter which vibrates with echoes.

For once they are very happy and in a party mood. The only difference is that they are enjoying the party in privacy.

You may think that the housewives of Juba are celebrating womanhood, power of the woman, or that their source of happiness is that they are reaping big in national politics.

The number of women ministers in the national government has increased. Some of them are holding powerful positions which were once reserved only for men. They are also increasingly making statements on tv to give them an edge over their male counterparts.

You may think that because former rebels have returned to Juba, life will normalise so that men, ordinary men, can resume their traditional responsibilities as breadwinners, so that they can take full charge of their gender roles as men (not only as bulls).

In the last six years, men, or rather, husbands have taken the back seat like absentee husbands.

Leave those men who went to the bush to burn charcoal, the husbands in Juba have been spending much of their time outdoors. Giving the excuse of the daily hustle, locally known as "jere-jere", these men spend time sitting in shop verandas, under trees drinking tea, playing dominoes, cards, mungula, or watching football in poorly ventilated clubs, or boozing in bars and flirting with Wewe barmaids who wear beads round their waists.

Most of the Juba women who are now on cloud seven had suffered 'isolation' even before the onset of the Coronavirus. Some of them went to the extreme to court traditional medicine people in a bid to “bring back my hubby", because the hubbies of Juba were snatched away by the material world. The wayward hubbies were being accused of sponsoring other 'foreign' projects, also known as "side dish".

Some wives don't complain for the sake of complaining. Others say their husbands spend less time at home. That when their husbands leave home in the morning they only returned at 10 p.m or worse, at midnight. They don't know how else to attract their wayward husbands to return home early.

Some wives swear that they seldom see their husbands sober. That their husbands are married to the bottle, and that when they stagger back home at night they immediately fall asleep and start snoring, dismally failing to perform their conjugal duties.

Some of the faithful housewives have tried in vain to reform their husbands by reporting them to their relatives or dragged them to Andrea's "B " Court at Kator for customary reprimand.

The wives of Juba suspect and blame their woes on husband snatchers who are not in short supply in the streets of Juba. To complicate matters, some of the husband snatchers don't mind being wife number two or even three. They believe in the doctrine of sharing goodies.

In a tit-for-tat game, some housewives also went their own way, sometimes bumping into their husbands in shisha kiosks.

Because some of the women learned to smoke shisha and are addicted, a day would not pass without an addicted wife not showing up at the shisha place. Some of them are pregnant, others are breastfeeding, and they carry their breastfeeding babies to the sisha kiosk, where the babies are exposed to secondary smoking.

Some of the wives who go to puff shisha daily not because they are addicted, but because they are bored and therefore prefer to socialise with fellow women. On the sidelines, other women learn tricks of coping with the absentee husbands of Juba.

So, if the fake witch doctor didn't deliver on his promise to restore love or to "bring back my hubby", to the wives of Juba, they turned to prayer on the mountain top.

Before long the world was turned upside down and there was panic. The world was gripped with unprecedented fear when a volcano called coronavirus erupted.

In Juba coronavirus has not only caused fear and panic, but our lousy lifestyle somewhat changed, sluggishly though. We took to wearing weird face masks and painfully adopted to the don'ts: Don't shake hands. Don't touch-touch your face. Wash your hands frequently. And social distancing has become a source of wry humour.

Some married men of Juba who are used to outdoor life detest work at home, never mind that our electricity supply is not anything to write home about.

The husbands say working at home is economically demanding. The demands are endless: buy bread, sugar, charcoal, water. The men are happy that the salons are closed, so their wives will not ask for money to groom their hair.

What's more, the declaration of night curfew from 8 p.m to 6 a.m was the last straw which broke the camel's back.

When the married women of Juba heard the presidential decree to declare the curfew, they ran into the streets with dance, song, and high-pitched ululation - South Sudanese women sound best! It was like second liberation for the married women.

Why did only curfew, of all the decrees read and unread on tv excite the married women of Juba?

The answer is simple. Curfew did the trick of "bring back my hubby". Which man with a roof to return to would want to be whipped in the dark streets of Juba for violating curfew hours?

Then let the wives who suffered "isolation" celebrate love again. Those who could afford hired a bodaboda taxi all the way from Gu'dele to Konyokonyo to buy chicken or cow feet to make soup for Abu iyal, who is now reformed and tamed by curfew, let alone coronavirus.

The children are even happy -they can play near their long-lost dad to scrutinise his fingernails or to pull his moustache. Curfew has made their dad accessible. They can hear his sober voice, now a loving creature, not the barking drunk voice.

The wives have a reason to laugh even when there is nothing to laugh about. They are confident that their wayward husbands cannot venture into the dark of the night for fun, for there is a koko out there called Curfew roaring!


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