The topic for this post comes from a question that one of our visitors asked us one day at the dinner table, “How do Malawi women feel about being dominated by their men?”
A woman in Malawi is not much more than just a worker. When a boy gets to be of marriage age he will pick out a strong wife who will work hard at home and in the garden and will bear him lots of strong children. Women clean, cook, hoe in the garden, bring water from a distant well, and take care of the children all day long. It is not uncommon to see a couple walking on the road with the man empty handed while his wife is toting a baby tied to her back and a 50 lb bag of corn on her head.
What shocks our visitors the most when they first come to Malawi is that the hostess does not eat at the table with her husband. She will be eating outside on the mat with her children. When guests arrive to her hut she will give up her seat in the guest’s favor and sit on the floor. Her husband gets to remain at the table.
It is pretty shocking for someone coming to Malawi for the first time. But it is not all that bad! A lot of times on the surface there are a lot of traditions that the woman has to show to the visitors. But when the visitors have gone she will become more on equal terms with her husband and some of the husbands are a little afraid of their wives!
We get uncomfortable when we do not understand another culture but Malawians have their own value system, just like we our own. Thousands of years of Malawi culture cannot change in a day! It will happen little by little and has to first come from the inside rather than being imposed by outsiders like us!