You are not man enough!

Date: December 9, 2010
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My name is Lemos Magule* and I am a 50-year-old man living in Chimoio, Mozambique’s fourth largest city. For the past seven years I have been living as a bachelor after two failed relationships.

My first wife, Lucia* and I married under customary law when I was 20-years-old and she was one year younger than me. She was my first love and I loved her so much. The time we lived together we shared everything, including house chores and even going to the markets – a thing most men in my community did not do.

I became a laughing stock, but I brushed aside the teasing my family and friends heaped on my. “You are not man enough,” some of them said to me not knowing that the taunting would ring in my ears forever.

Even when I would take our baby to the clinic, the nurses would first ask me where the mother was and then laugh and make dirty jokes.

When we had our second baby, Lucia decided to stop sharing house chores with me and even began to beat me up because she said my cooking was bad.

She would also often scold me, which had a heavy psychological toll on me because I lived by the rule that using insults was no way to make one mighty.

When I could not handle the mistreatment, I sought advice from family and friends. Their reply was the same “You are not man enough”.

My only option was to walk out from the family home and leave our children. I had had enough and I became the laughing stock of the community.

After a year, I started living with Amina*, a single mother of two. Unconsciously, I started sharing all the domestic chores even after a hard day at the farm where I am a labourer.

It was smooth sailing in the first year and by the second year we were blessed with a son.

She started changing her attitude and became abusive and she would invite her family members around and some of them would treat me like a child.

Every time I thought about this treatment, the same words from my first marriage haunted me. “You are not man enough.”

I lived with Amina for three years until I decided it was enough and I had to be on my own despite the social stigma attached to unmarried men.

I have since managed to build my own home where I live by myself and I have no option of marrying again anytime soon.

My children visit me when they wish but I have not been courageous enough to tell them what really made me leave the two marriages.

I know they have been told that I was not man enough and I am also afraid that they think I was not man enough to deal with the marriages or with the two women whom I shared my life with and fathered children with.

In my community, a man is only considered to be man enough if he beats his wife – even in public – and humiliates her. I have found that women even stay with men who beat them up.

By beating their women they are “Men enough” and they are seen as heroes.

Interestingly, Lucia has married and man who beats her quite often, my children tell me when they visit.

But for me I feel I cannot use violence in order to be respected – whether that means I’m man enough or not.

*Not their real names

Fred Katerere is a freelance journalist based in Maputo. This article is part of a special series on the 16 Days of Activism for the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service that offers fresh views on everyday news. For more information on the 16 Days Campaign go to




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