This weekend we were delighted to join our friends Amani and Esta for their bronze wedding anniversary and thanksgiving. They are such a beautiful couple: he is serious and reserved, she is lively and warm. They run a marriage ministry alongside his work as a pastor and hers as a teacher and there were many there who have benefited from their input.
They were asked to reflect on one another as a husband and a wife and their answers drew heavily on Ephesians 5 which was read out later on as well.
Amani said that his wife is very submissive. I wondered what he meant by this — minutes before she had been ribbing him about how he likes to have all his socks lined up neatly in rows! He went on to explain that she had been supportive of him and was peaceful; only healthy conflict had been present in their marriage.
Esta said Amani has cared for her so well. She talked about when she was sick for a long time, unable to get out of bed and Amani did all the cooking and looked after her. In Tanzania, these are the responsibilities of the wife; it’s shameful if she is not able to do them, even more shameful for a husband to assume these duties. Yet, Amani did, because husbands are called to love their wives and give themselves up for them.
Because Tanzania has quite strict gender differentiation and roles, the subversion of the gospel is in some ways easier to see. Everyone knows that women are meant to keep house; a man doing it is a huge statement. Some people might admire him, but they are more likely to ridicule him or curl up their lips — unless they know the Servant of All who gives up his life and his honour for his bride.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.