#AskSJ: Attracted To Sister-In-Law’s Cousin


Dear SJ

Is it culturally acceptable ukuthandana lomzawakhe womfazi kamnewethu (to be in a relationship with my sister-in-law’s cousin)?
– Feeling Love.


 Dear ‘Feeling Love’

You mean “ukuthandana lomzawakhe kankosikazi womnewethu.” Umfazi is a colloquial term for a woman/wife and many Ndebele pundits have told me that basically there is no such word. Either way, I’m glad you phrased your question like that. I believe that many Ndebele people are related because Zimbabwe is such a small country. Relations albeit distant always spring up in some way or another.

 Yours is a bit close.

 In her famous “We should all be feminists” lecture, Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie says “people make culture.” It most certainly is not in my place or anyone else’s to tell you what’s culturally acceptable or unacceptable for your love life. Attraction is attraction! I’d like to think we all have been attracted to someone and faced the Bazothini (What Will They Say) Syndrome.

 Fine, you are not related by blood and that would be legally unacceptable. You are related by your brother’s marriage. As with any relationship, when problems occur there would have to be sides taken. A strain on your relationship, if you were to go through with it, will be a strain on your brother’s marriage.  Two strained relationships in the same family will be quite the strain on the families.

 Part of the reason why we date strangers is that you want to be able to gush and gossip about the person with your people and vice versa with your person going on about you to their people. That’s nice when things are great and not so much when things are not so great. Proceed with care because, in case of problems, our culture still relies on personal go-betweens for solutions. You simply cannot rely on personalities for help with relationships.

 You and your lover should give your brother and sister-in-law a heads up if anything is already happening. That would be a mature thing to do than for them to find out by other means. Family and friends are there to support us in relationships – only if we ask for it.


Dear SJ

In your reply to “My daughter has questions about her father” you say a child will ask about its father for life. Doesn’t that dehumanise people who don’t know their fathers? Are you not being patriarchal?
– Unknown father.


Dear ‘Unknown father’

Awesome questions. Patriarchy is a social construction. Just like how all that is culture is a social construction. People make it all up and go to great lengths to justify patriarchy and as it turns out, culture.

 What I mean by a child asking about its father for life is paternity. Paternity is a biological construction. You can’t make up biology. We find biology as it is. Where there is maternity, there is/was paternity. Paternity is not equal to patriarchy. What dehumanises people who don’t know their fathers is patriarchy – where a boy pretending to be a man will sire children and disappear without accountability. This is one of the biggest hallmarks of the pretentious asses of Black Culture.

 Hundreds of millions of people all over the world are facing this. Every year, social media on Father’s Day is Exhibit A. Black Culture has institutionalised parenting to “baby daddy/baby momma dramas.” Identity is a critical component of a person’s life. Even where you don’t know who your father – and in lesser cases your mother – there is always someone who knows the story of what happened. The onus is on the child to find out.

Sonny Jermain is an award winning public health, maternal, sexual and reproductive health rights facilitator and a traditional psychic. This column appears Thursdays on Enthuse. Send questions to asksj@enthusemag.com or WhatsApp +263 77 274 8454. Follow @SonnyJermain.





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