Reports that Sungura musician Alick Macheso is flaunting a mistress whom he says he intends to take for a second wife typify how success gets into men’s pants.
When success gets into a man’s pants it has a numbing effect on the rational part of the brain and a man’s reasoning becomes — for want of a better term — myopic.
Macheso is microcosmic of what success or perceived success does to us men in our sexual and marital lives.
Polygamy — I use the term in its widest sense possible to include such issues as “small houses” — becomes the in-thing when a man feels he has to show the world he is at the pinnacle of success.
I grew up in Gokwe, in a highly polygamous environment and I observed certain, almost permanent, trends in polygamy.
It normally starts with a young man, usually with nothing but a talent or gift for hard work, like Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart, who rises through social ranks by the sweat of his brow.
But the catch here is that the young man does not rise without technical and physical assistance.
He marries an understanding, hard-working, morally upright woman who is prepared to stand by him in sickness or in health, in poverty or in riches.
Together they slowly build the foundation of a solid future.
In the area that I grew up in, the hard-working couple would become revered cotton farmers or market gardeners and live happily until the goblin of success hit the man’s pants and he looked for a second wife.
This is typical of the Macheso case. Macheso is a celebrity and we have the privilege of knowing fairly well how he rose to fame.
He was plucked out of obscurity from a farm in Shamva by Nicholas Zacharia, who taught him how to play the guitar and today he is an internationally recognised artiste who is married with five children.
He has become a role model for many.
Now, like the successful market gardener or cotton farmer cited above, he wants a second wife.
We never saw the gifted artiste moving around in public with his wife who has stood the test of time with him, the wife who has given him moral, technical and physical support and who has given him beautiful children to be proud of.
Now we see him parading a mistress in public and defending his actions by arguing that he is not the first man to do it. So does it mean not being the first makes it right?
Macheso says he will soon turn his mistress into a second wife. What tragic consequences we men are led into by the illusion of success.
What is a second wife, really? In ghetto lingo we call a second wife, mistress or small house chidhuura — a paradoxically cheap fake that is very expensive.
The second wife is like a honey bear — she waits by the wayside, scouting for a hive that has rich honeycombs (the homestead and wealth built by the first wife and her children).
She then hits her target with precision and normally she targets men with the airs of success.
The commotion and anguish she causes in the heart and life of the first wife does not matter to her.
Like the honey bear, she does not care what happens to the hive — as long as she harvests the honey that she did not sweat for.
Therein lies our weakness as men: when success enters our pants, we become so myopic that we cannot see all the deviousness of these manipulative women.
All we see is the outside beauty (perceived) of the mistress and the “ugliness and backwardness” of the first wife that we imagine we had been blind to all along— before success “opened” our eyes.
I find it strange that a woman intent on destabilising another woman’s entire life, including the lives of her children, could profess to love anyone. But they do and we men, being the gullible creatures we are, believe them.
Is it true love that drives someone to intentionally fight tooth and nail to reap where she did not sow? These second wives want inheritance like mad.
Their sole intention, one can safely conclude, is not only to break the first wife’s heart but the man’s pocket as well.
They don’t love anybody but themselves. Stuart Cloete’s protagonist, Jean Macaque, in his novel The Thousand and One Nights of Jean Macaque observes that many women had tried to prove that they loved him by spending his money and sleeping in his bed, among other things.
“Other women have said they loved me and imagined they proved it by eating my food, wearing my clothes and sleeping in my bed. Then after a while they loved someone else, a man who gave them better clothes, richer food and had a softer bed,” says Macaque.
It is unfortunate that as men we do not learn.
Success can be an illusion. In this era of Aids and economic uncertainty, there are many examples for us to see.
We have seen our colleagues booted out by second wives the moment they became hopelessly sick or when their economic fortunes turned sour.
These women want providers not lovers.
Under such circumstances our colleagues have gone back to their first wives with their organs literally tucked between their legs, begging for forgiveness.
Is it that success or its concomitant illusion, drives men to imagine that second wives offer something new, something out of this world?
Again Macaque satirically advises that the bottom line in the relationship is sex and nothing new can be offered in that primitive act, whether it is done under a tree, between silky sheets, in five-star hotels or anywhere else.
But there is a moral ring to the Macheso story.
What do we teach our children when we flaunt our mistresses and then marry them?
Are we saying to them, “My beloved daughters, it is cool to snatch other people’s husbands”? Or “My son, when you have acquired enough success, dump your stupid first wife for a better one”?