JACK ZIMBA, Lusaka
AFTER being married for 11 years, Kabwe Kalela and his estranged wife, Nelly Kangala decided to end their marriage in court.
The major cause of trouble in their marriage was infidelity.
Ms Kangala told the Lusaka Boma local court that while she was away for work in Chipata, Eastern Province, her husband was involved in a love affair with his own cousin.
The 34-year-old Ms Kangala, a teacher, said she had received many reports that her husbandâ€™s cousin was sleeping in the coupleâ€™s bedroom while she was away.
Kangala said her husband also used to receive love messages from his own sister.
The coupleâ€™s marriage was dissolved by the court. Theirs was not the only marriage being dissolved in the local courts that day, or the days and weeks that followed.
And last week, many reeled at the high divorce rate in the capital in a story published by the Daily Mail.
According to the story, 8,500 divorce cases were recorded in nine months in 2015.
According to the report, most cases were as a result of infidelity, with the mobile phone at the centre of it.
And according to records at the Lusaka City Council, in a period of eight months in the same year, 1,951 marriages were registered with the local authority. And from January to October this year, 2,233 marriages have been registered.
So what has gone wrong in our society?
â€œIt is fairly clear that there is a growing level of failure in terms of marriages lasting,â€ says Conrad Mbewe, who pastors Kabwata Baptist Church.
He says one of the major causes is the corrupting movies and images that come through media such as pay TV and the internet.
While not really blaming the womenâ€™s movement for trouble in marriages, Rev. Mbewe says it has made the situation worse in most cases.
â€œIn terms of exacerbating the situation, yes, but I wouldnâ€™t put the initial blame on it. You see, the womenâ€™s movement is more a reaction to something that has been going on. Men have been violent to their wives and they had nowhere to run to,â€ he says.
He also says many men find themselves cheating on their wives because it is easier to be romantic in a superficial relationship â€œbecause you are just admiring the outside of a personâ€ rather than the personality.
â€œMany men and women donâ€™t take the trouble as much as they ought to be romantic in their marriages,â€ he says.
The clergyman says the other point of concern he has noticed even in his congregation is the rising number of young women who want to get married but cannot find suitors.
He thinks this is the result of young men concentrating on their careers and not wanting to commit themselves in a marriage relationship.
Rev Mbewe also thinks pastors are spending less time counselling couples, and only tend to only pray for those having marital problems.
â€œSadly, they are moving away from counselling to more of just praying for people with problems. You just bring them in front during service and pray for them. That is bypassing the problem and it is not helping people,â€ he says.
Rev Mbewe thinks in most Christian marriages, marital problems are being â€œhyper-spiritualisedâ€.
â€œAnd what is happening is that we are failing to deal with the real cause of the problem. Instead of a man owning responsibility and breaking up with the extra females in his life, he is now seeing it as if it is just some spirit that has come upon him dragging him into infidelity,â€ he says.
So what will happen if the current trend is not broken?
â€œYou just have to go to the prisons today and you will discover that most of them are products of a broken home. That already is telling us what will happen if we allow broken homes to become the norm today, we will be breeding a lot of criminals in the generations to come,â€ he says.
He says society needs to get back to the foundation and realise that marriage is not manâ€™s idea, but Godâ€™s, and that His basic principle where a man is commanded to love his wife and the wife is commanded to submit to her husband.
Rev Mbewe says lack of adherence to this basic principle is what is now fuelling killings in homes.
CRIMES OF PASSION
Unfortunately the phrase â€œTill death parts usâ€ has taken a whole new sad meaning for some estranged couples.
The nation has in the recent past witnessed an alarming increase in crimes of passion â€“ mostly estranged women killing their partners.
In two most shocking incidents, a husband was, according to police, shot several times in the chest by his wife, who is currently standing trial. And in the most recent incidents, an estranged wife ran over her husband with her car, while another stabbed his boyfriend who later died of his wounds.
But some women go to great lengths to keep their husbands, including casting a magical spell on them.
In John Laing, a shanty township south of the city, one man is offering solutions for successful marriage.
Isaac Igombe is a Ghanaian traditional doctor with 16 yearsâ€™ experience, who thinks he has the solution to prevent couples from divorcing, and for women looking for men to marry them.
Mr Igombe says most of his clients are women seeking to have their husbands back home after running away with a girlfriend.
He says he handles about 20 such cases in a month. Although even men do seek help to get their run-away wives back, usually it is men whose fortunes have turned upside down through a job loss or bad business.
â€œThis office was specifically meant for those [marital] cases,â€ he tells me.
His office is a dingy room with two plastic chairs, plus an adjacent room where the medicine man keeps his potions. He says many of his clients are women in the corporate world.
â€œSome of them are rich,â€ he tells me.
Mr Igombe says there are many corporate women who â€˜tieâ€™ their husbands because they donâ€™t want to take chances and lose their husbands to another woman.
He says many women bring him items such as socks, underwear, neck tie or a photo belonging to the man they wish to have or tie, and he mixes the item with his potions, which the client then burns like incense, while pronouncing their wish.
His potion for tying a partner is called Kayayana.
He says his love potions have a success rate of 70-75 percent, with a guaranteed refund if they do not work.
He says using the potions, he is able to capture the mind of the run-away husband and to â€œattractâ€ him back home.
Mr Igombeâ€™s clients pay between K350 and K400 for these services, but some have paid the medicine man in kind with items such as a vehicle and furniture.
â€œOne of the major causes of trouble in these marriages is that women are too quarrelsome and so the men go and find other women where they donâ€™t find trouble and their minds can relax,â€ he says.
Ironically, the medicine man also offers women potions to snatch other womenâ€™s husbands, or at least to keep them as their own lovers.
Mr Igombe says there are many women who seek that kind of charm, and he admits giving it to some of them.
â€œThere are some women who come and say â€˜I love this guy, but he is marriedâ€™. We advise them to get their own husband, but we have helped some of them, and it worked,â€ he says.
â€œBut we usually donâ€™t want them to break other peopleâ€™s homes, so we just give them medicine so that the man will support them on the side, without breaking that home,â€ he says.
The 47-year-old says he has not used any of his potions on his wife, but that he would use them if he saw the need to do so.
JACK ZIMBA, Lusaka