Speaking on a television show of his daughter Duduzile’s marriage, Zuma expressed happiness for his daughter and then went on to say:
“I was also happy because I wouldn’t want to stay with daughters who are not getting married. Because that in itself is a problem in society. I know that people today think being single is nice. It’s actually not right. That’s a distortion. You’ve got to have kids. Kids are important to a woman because they actually give an extra training to a woman, to be a mother.”
This morning I briefly participated in a Facebook dialogue surrounding Zuma’s comments and my response to one woman who was seemingly offended by the comments were:
“I think Zuma’s comments may have been better stated or not stated at all-LOL!!! That being said, being a Mother and being a Wife are definitely powerful catalysts in the evolution of a woman. Trust me, before marriage and kids, I was the most self-involved person I know and these roles have both caused me to grow by leaps and bounds and they have taught me a lot about what it means to be a woman…#justsaying”
Some of the women who commented before and after I commented went as far as to call the President a “h***y nutcase”, presumably because Zuma is a polygamist who, the last time I checked, had four wives; that number may have since gone up to five, as of this year.
Another woman who commented called President Zuma an “idiot” and wondered why we even bothered to pay attention to his remarks.
Yet another woman questioned how the President could make those comments without considering that a woman may have the desire to be married or the desire to have children but may not have a man, saying,
I wonder what he proposes we single women do about his statement since both being married and having children depend on the consensual participation of a man! Even if we want to be married and have children we as women can do nothing but hope and wait!
I still maintain that President Zuma could have used a better choice of words, but I still feel that he is not entirely off the mark. In the dialogue, I was very open, sharing that before I got married, I tended to end relationships quickly and now realize that at some points, ending the relationship was robbing me of an opportunity to acquire relationship skills.
Every woman has her own journey to chart, but for many of us, being a wife and a mother teaches us so much about what it means to be a woman and it causes us to develop in ways that I feel we may not have done if we did not have those sacred responsibilities and roles.
I take issue with anyone who makes broad generalizations about how a woman show live her life; whether she should be single or married, a mother or not, or even if she is a mother, whether or not she chooses to work or not. That being said, I shared with my Facebook friends that as I get older, I have learned to embrace very aspect of being a woman, even the parts that make me appear vulnerable.
I encourage women to exercise their right to choose what they want in life but I also tend to caution women that it’s important to find balance in the many views that we are exposed to. Sure, women have come a long way-we now have many more freedoms than our mothers and grandmothers had but that also gives us a lot of responsibilities.
We are not only responsible for ourselves. We are also responsible to our children, our husbands and our communities and societies at large. Strong marriages and families are the pillars of society and as much as I walk the talk of a “modern woman”, I draw the line at the point where I foresee destruction. Sure, marriage and children may not be for everyone, but it still has been proven over and over again that if we want to give our children the best in life, we must do everything that we can to raise them in strong, healthy and functional two parent homes.
President Zuma may have made a misstep in the delivery of his message, but at the end of the day, the message is clear: It’s good for a woman to find a husband and yes, having children does aid a woman in her evolution. That does not mean that a woman can not evolve to her full potential if she does not have children but there is no reason to be offended at the thought that our children can teach us aspects of womanhood that we may have never known without them.
Nomalanga helps Black Women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s blog at successfulblackwoman.com