The small house phenomenon

The small house phenomenon

By Tafadzwa Razemba, Zimbabwe:

There is a mysterious phenomenon currently sweeping across my country that has been rampant especially since the time of burning money, called the small house. It affects many households and has caused many a divorce. It is done by Christians and non-believers alike. It has caused great joy for some men and women, and caused great distress to another group of women. It has been the cause of great surprise at funerals, weddings and other family gatherings. It is the main reason so many get bank loans and why so many get blacklisted. It has been a topic of discussion in workplaces, churches and any other social meetings you can think of. This is because it is such a topical issue; it seems almost every man has a small house.

In 2008, during the time when the inflation rate was the highest ever to be recorded in any nation in history, a lot of Zimbabweans illegally practiced 'burning money'. A lot of companies and individuals made a lot of money through this act and with this came ostentation and extravagance from the nouveau or faux riche. Although Zimbabwe is a country, like many African countries, where polygamy is legal, it is largely frowned upon. Most men who are genuinely polygamous belong to some religious sect. Others who might seem polygamous would have married a woman culturally, left her, then married one or more women without getting divorced from a previous wife.

A lot of small houses begin with a married men having a little fun on the side by cheating. This then becomes a small affair. Then his play thing becomes a bona fide mistress, then she becomes pregnant, then it's a full blown side family of a mistress with children. A parallel family is formed, in other words, a small house. Some men, since polygamy is legal, tell their wives that they want another wife but some men are afraid of the repercussions from their wives and family that he carries on juggling two or more families secretly.

As dollarization was announced, some men became poor overnight. Their hard work of cheating the system was not going to work in a non-hyper inflationary economy. Some men remained rich and the thirst for starting small houses only increased. The stability that the US dollar came with, meant acquiring things, including women, was more certain. The US dollar's stability also meant security for women who targeted men like this, since his wealth was not likely to disappear overnight. Speaking of the women; seeking out married men was not as taboo as it was before, since clearly there are more women than men in our country. Therefore, some women have to share. A lot of women now see nothing wrong with going after another woman's husband especially if it is just for money. Women have become more brazen in their quest for material things. It might have been for money to basically survive at first or to get through university, in that harsh economic climate, then it progressed to the need to satisfy a high maintenance life. So then she has to take a 'good man' who is already with someone else.

I will quote my wise mother who said that any woman who knowingly goes after a married or taken man, clearly does not believe she will ever have a man to call her own. Some women just prefer unavailable men and will hound them until they give in. Some women do not want a committed relationship such as a marriage or if they do, they don't mind. With an unavailable man, you can reap the benefits, get beautiful things, go to nice places and never have to deal with his issues, deal with extended family and friends, wash his clothes or take care of his children like his wife. Men have always cheated, women too, and this will probably never end. Some women have just realized that a man whether he is taken or not, can make life easier and fun, and the men don't mind doing so since they already have their wife and family. The problem often comes when casual feelings turn to or get confused for real love. Or when there is a pregnancy. Then the small house story begins.

Founder and Editor in Chief of the Readers Cafe Africa

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