- Published on Monday, 18 June 2012 02:05
- Written by ALVAR MWAKYUSA
- Hits: 1050
EXCESSIVE consumption of alcohol among men in Karatu district coupled with financial constraints is driving men away from their families, leaving women and children in dire need of basic requirements.
A baseline survey conducted in the district and facilitated by the Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) recently, revealed that cases of men abandoning their families are so rampant that authorities are now contemplating a longlasting solution to the problem. “We receive an average of 30 families that have been abandoned every month.
The majority of the men who run away from their families are those addicted to alcohol while others desert due to hard economic conditions, particularly during dry seasons,” Rhotia Ward Executive Officer, Mr Jackson Sulle, told this paper recently. The situation is not so different in Karatu Township where 13 cases of men have abandoned their families, according to Karatu Ward Executive Officer, Mr Paulo Lagwen.
Mr Lagwen said the problem is widespread among residents in the area given the fact that a number of such occurrences are hardly reported to authorities. “Some women are very brave; when they are abandoned they take it on their own to provide basic necessities to their families.
In some cases, men desert their families and remarry since polygamy is also prevalent among the Wairak tribe (also called Wambulu),” he explained. Adding; “Some incidences are addressed at village level where elders are engaged to compel the men take care of their families.” The abandonment of families has lead to increased number of street children in Karatu Township.
The youngsters also leave the estranged families to look for jobs but since they lack education and skills, they end up in streets. “It is high time responsible stakeholders including political and religious leaders joined forces to address separation of families, particularly abandonment by some irresponsible men,” Mr Patrick Best of Karatu NGO Network (KANGONET) said.
He was highly optimistic that when the abandonment issue is addressed, cases of children roaming the streets would also be checked to a large extent. During the two-week long survey, it was also revealed that the neglect of families by men is also caused by wandering practice of pastoral communities in the district.
Karatu district is a home to mainly Wairak (also called Wambulu) and Maasai communities, who are largely nomadic pastoralists. “Such incidences have reduced, thanks to modern livestock keeping practices in some areas but there are a number of men who still leave behind their families and go on grazing animals for months, especially during dry seasons,” according to a villager in Endamarariek, Mr Samwel Surumbu.
The Ward Executive Officer for Endamarariek in the district, Mr Omari Mshana, proposed that the government should earmark special areas for grazing animals to restrain the pastoral communities from wandering. Amusingly, not all men in Karatu who desert their families are alcoholic or poor; there are also men fond of deserting their families to marry fairly young women.
Ms Massay Qamunga (55) narrated to this reporter how his husband abandoned her and their five children and went on to marry other women. Unlike other men, the husband of Ms Qamunga (name withheld) is relatively rich with some property in Karatu Township, but he left the family and married a fairly young lady with whom he currently hangs about with.
“What hurts even more is that despite not providing basic needs and education to our children, he has tried on many occasions to selloff properties we amassed during our marriage,” Ms Qamunga lamented. Ms Qamunga is however such a strong woman, she supports her children to attain education with hard-earned income she gets from petty trading in Karatu.
A coordinator at an inter-faith gender centre in Karatu, Ms Agnes John, said a number of women are now the breadwinners in the families. “Leave alone men who completely abandon their families, they are also men who would just drink alcohol at local pubs all day long, caring less on education of their children or what their families are going to eat,” Ms John explained.
The former Karatu District Commissioner, Mr Mathew Sedoyeka, expressed concerns however that most women in the district do not report abandonment or beatings from their husbands to authorities. “At the government level, we have been trying to reach out to the women and children advising them to report such cases to authorities so that the law can take its course,” Mr Sedoyeka, who has since then been transferred to Sumbawanga, said.