Shame On You, Man.

The complexities of Nyamuragi’s trial and the gender-related issues it raised was really striking and thought-provoking. In Baho! by Roland Rugero, citizens hounded and gathered around a man—who as a mute, was completely unable to defend himself—and were prepared to punish him for a crime he did not commit and of which were unsure that he even intended to commit. This was a group of men and women that were clearly on edge, terrified of the rape culture that haunted their area. They were quick to judge the situation because of how untrusting they were as a whole towards their men. Many men present at the trial were distracted with their own thoughts of guilt as they contemplated their own sins in secret. With this dynamic I could not help but make a correlation to John 8:7, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.”

Prosecuting Nymuragi so harshly stemmed from the no-tolerance attitude towards rape that these men and women had adopted. While as men, they seem to be acting in good conscience, we learn that the men here do not want to protect their daughters, sisters and wives solely for love, but for preservation. Women are labeled as goods to be sullied. Fathers of daughters who have been raped are consoled for their loss of dowry prospects.

Many men in this society rely heavily on variations of the phrase “may I undress my daughter if …” (42) in order to establish their credibility or honor. While it is specified that this phrase used to provoke confidence it no longer creates trust and in fact, provokes distrust—another reason men are depicted as untrustworthy and unconscious in this work—while really the only thing that seems to define whether they are honorable is how many cattle they own. While the women do so out of fear, these men make Nyamuragi the sacrificial lamb for appearing to intend to rape a young girl, whilst they are all guilty of poor morals towards their women which—if any shame is felt—they hide deep inside themselves. 



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