October time is when I would normally write about relationship issues, but 2017 began with bang as the Zimbabwean community witnessed a very sad and disturbing domestic issue between the so-called celebrity couple Stunner and Olinda Chideme. The couple made an unusual choice to air their marriage problems on social media, giving the public an insight into their scandals of infidelity, their finances, their unashamed disrespect for one another, and so much more. The story unfolded into an ugly blessing, but a blessing non-the less because the Zimbabwean community is now able to unpack lessons from the situation to benefit themselves or their interests. The story has a lot of parallels that other people can relate to, especially here in the diaspora, where many Zimbabweans ought to use this story as a gateway that will enable them to discuss and open up to the issues of domestic abuse, which they have refused to confront in the past, or have preferred to be consciously ignorant about.
There are lessons to learn for mothers- who see their daughters in Olinda. There are lessons for parents who have not taken the time to teach and nurture their sons to be protectors and providers. There are lessons to learn for married couples around gender roles and relationship dynamics. There are lessons to learn for single women looking for lifelong partners. There are also lessons on how we ought to choose our life- partners. There are lessons to learn for young boys that believe they can get by without an education or a trade; and of course, there are lessons to learn too for men, especially those who believe that they can charm a woman with their good looks and great sex in exchange for material and financial provision.
All the afore-mentioned are the lessons to take from the surface of the story; but what about the background story? What about the stuff that the public didn’t get to see or hear? What/ who were Olinda and Stunner’s support networks? Who tried to help them overcome their problems? Could it be that no one helped them effectively; and that is why Olinda took to Facebook crying out for help? Were there familial betrayals, disloyal in-laws? Could it be that Stunner was not the only person “milking” his wife financially? Why couldn’t this issue be resolved behind closed doors? Why did it become so public? What about their children? Where were they when the madness unfolded? Did they witness any of it? if they did what support networks have been put in place for these children? What have we learnt about resolving marital/household issues? What have we learned about friendships and relationships?
How do you recover from something so emotionally taxing such as what this couple and their family went through? How do you get over and forgive a cheating spouse? How do you trust a dishonest spouse? How do you respect a spouse that has shown you no respect? Is such a marriage worth fighting for, or is it better to cut it loose considering that Olinda made sacrifices in order to give her husband the lifestyle that she thought he deserved; only to be betrayed and repaid with disrespect and the heart ache that we all witnessed on social media. Did Olinda deserve the savagery that mentally broke her considering that she had taken on the wifely responsibility of elevating and improving her husband’s life? Do we (the public) have the right to question Stunner’s morality?
What do we think now about money? What is our attitude toward money? What do we think about a man’s role as husband and provider within the home? What do we think about a man’s role as protector of his family? In this instance, where did Stunner fail? Should we be cynical about long-distance relationships, are they worth all the stress?
Stunner and Olinda’s relationship has been an eye-opener to the Zimbabwean community. Whatever the lessons we have taken from this sad love-story, we need to look at ourselves as a community and realise that we, collectively need to do better in teaching one another right from wrong. It is our responsibility to change our mind-sets on the issues we have learnt from this story and begin to cultivate a sense of honourableness in everything that we do, as husbands, wives, mothers, aunties, uncles, community elders etc. We must cultivate a message of love- real love and real respect for individuals. We need to take pride in hard work and not be infamous for using other people for what we can take from them. Anyway…… I have argued many times before that Africans have a different view and understanding of domestic violence issues. Most people used African cultural lens to view Stunner and his position in the scenario even though he was passively aggressive in his manner. As an advocate for Domestic violence and abuse, I was struck by the many aspects of abuse that were presented in this scenario. Even though Olinda was presenting herself in a manner that did not command sympathy from some of the people who watched the drama; in my opinion, she was (is) the victim of psychological, emotional and financial abuse, and she was exploited for her money and whatever else luxuries that she could provide. To get a better understanding of domestic abuse issues, please explore the issues at https://m.facebook.com/preventionofdomesticviolenceandspousalabuseuk/