Apostolic faith, rukaho or satellite tracking – could these be cures for infidelity?

Whilst conducting research on couples, faith and HIV/AIDS for a focus group presentation just outside the Harare, I realised that a surprising number of married people cheat, especially when they think that their partners won't find out about their indiscretions, writes THOMSON PHIRI. However, it i

I interviewed a number of people who have converted to the apostolic
sects. The majority of these respondents cited the psychic powers
imbued in the prophets. Through kuereswa (a practice common in the
apostolic sects where the prophets separate the evil from the good
doers as a means of enforcing Christian living) the secret things that
partners do behind their spouses' backs come to light.

Apparently it works. Because everybody is mandated to pass through this
gauge, where infidels are separated from Jerusalem, everybody is scared
of straying lest the whole congregation learn of it come the next
church meeting, so I am told.

As one church elder stated: Most of these people wanted to be
promiscuous but because of the church's practice of kuereswa, they have
had to swallow humble pie and wait till they have exchanged nuptial
vows or stick to their matrimonial beds, come what may.

Whilst we do not claim it's a watertight method, at least is has kept AIDS at bay, he claimed.

The apostolic faith sect has come under repeated fire since the
outbreak of the HIV/AIDS pandemic due to their practice of polygamy.
Gender activists have argued that it's a violation of women's rights as
it puts them at a greater risk of contracting HIV.

Another apostolic sect member, who identified himself as Madzibaba
Kireb, has a slightly different opinion. He avers: Nothing escapes the
eyes of the prophets – denga rine meso madzibaba Zvose zvinobatwa
paMweya (the skies have eyes. Everything is revealed by the Spirit).

Is it the case then, that everyone is lustful and that the only reason
why we still haven't sneaked out of our matrimonial beds for the
sizzling and mind-blowing sexual escapades of our fantasies is because
we haven't figured out how best to hide it from sweetie?

Whilst the vapostoris can be dismissed by many for their seemingly
naïve practices of fighting HIV/AIDS, even the more modern' members of
society, from Facebooking teenagers to educated professionals, have
confirmed they also count on surveillance of some kind and, just like
the apostolic sects, wouldn't mind some supernatural mechanism to
ensure faithfulness from their partners.

From snooping through a lover's phone, looking for that indiscreet text
message to dropping in on partners at odd times of night, people will
go to great lengths to make sure that their partner is not straying. We
have become a generation of paranoid lovers.

Zimbabwean Urban Groove rapper, ExQ, in his hit track Ndichakutevera (I
will follow you), puts forward the notion that even the young ones,
once in love, sometimes wish they could place CCTV cameras on all
roads. The title suggests a wish to be able to somehow follow one's
beloved everywhere they go.

Some men who travel are said to lock' their wives. This is a
traditional practice where the man uses traditional medicine from a
witchdoctor to make sure that if any man strays into his territory
during his absence there will be hell to pay.

A few years ago, there was a story in the papers about a gonyeti
(truck) driver from Mbare who locked' his wife after hearing that she
got up to bed games with another man when he was away.

After he left on a trip, sure enough, her lover visited. The two of
them could not come apart after their session of love-making. When the
husband returned, he meted out some physical justice. The two ran out
of the house, still joined together, and couldn't get very far because
soon a large, jeering crowd gathered around them. In the end, a
policeman found a blanket and covered them with it.

In other cases, having sex with a locked' woman is said to result in
what is known as rukaho in the man who commits the offence. In this
case, when the man tries to urinate, termites come out of his member.
It is supposedly a very painful experience as the termites bite as they
try to make their way out. Another consequence can be runyoka where the
man's intestines are said to become knotted, another extremely painful

In all of these cases, we are told, the husband has to undo the
locking' or death will surely ensue in the case of the man who partook
of his wife.

Those with access to more modern technology have their own methods of tracking their partners' fidelity.

Semmelhack, the founder and CEO of Bug Labs, a USA company focused on
bottom-up, community based innovation has created electronic devices
that can assist in tracking your loved ones.

The original idea was very noble. As a New Yorker, in the immediate
aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he found himself wanting to
know the physical location of his wife and child. He thought about
building a GPS tracker which sent out a signal every five minutes
allowing him to track his family on a website.

But then the idea evolved that the device could have a more practical
everyday use. Why wait for a terror attack when you can use the device
to track where your partner is 24/7? They argue couples should embrace
the device so that they know exactly which planet he/she has flown to
on Friday nights and with whom – and in the process we will ensure no

In the popular and brutal-with-the-truth reality TV show Cheaters, a TV
camera crew trails a spouse or lover who is thought to be unfaithful,
capturing it all on film. The big reveal, when infidelity is proved, is
always painful to watch. Being human, we find it entertaining as well
since it's someone else's story, hence the global popularity of the

The same is true away from the camera's eye. Being caught is painful, being the one who catches even more so.

To conclude, I ask: Should positive behaviour amongst spouses come
about as a result of surveillance mechanisms of some sort? Or from the
fear of getting caught? Can our own version of the popular television
show Cheaters be our answer to curb cheating? What is the best cure for
infidelity? For now we can remain sure of one thing: there is
bed-straying in some marriages and chances are that if it's your spouse
doing it you will always be the last to know.

Tomson Phiri is a journalist and information officer based in Harare. Additional research and reporting by S. Kadzere.

Post published in: Analysis

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