“Men also suffer abuse and domestic violence, probably more than women. The problem is that men hide it or simply have pride, and fear being judged because our society deems being abused as sign of weakness. When a man goes to report abuse, the police ridicule him, gate o sematla, and sekukuru! As a society, we need to rethink our attitudes because times have changed. Also, women now are breadwinners, during a time of high unemployment. So, the very fact we are expected to provide despite joblessness is what causes the high suicide rate.” These are the words of a Gospel artist, 44-year-old Boineelo ‘King’ Solomon. No doubt the burly musician has a lot to say regarding gender-based violence and society’s disregard for battered men, thus is ready to recount to Voice Woman the sordid details of his decade-long abuse by a woman who in fact initiated their relationship.
Solomon, a devout Zionist, offered to talk about the other side of the coin, which is the reality that men, too, experience abuse in relationships. Motivated by his recent tussle for custody of his children from his long-time baby mama, the father-of-three describes himself as a hard-working ‘hustler’ who would never expect a woman to take care of him as he is a Christian, thus strongly believes that the cardinal role of a man is indeed to provide for his family.
But, it would seem his former lover, a very rancorous and capricious woman, according to him, thinks otherwise.
King Solomon, who hails from Radisele village, says he was kicked out of a house he helped build last year around March.
Quick to remind me that it is not the relationship he is fighting for, but access to his own children, Solomon says when he met the mother of his children sometime back in 2011, she had a daughter who was a little over two years old.
“I was promoting my music when I met this woman. It seemed she had always known me, or at least heard of me, and would occasionally contact me to chat me up. One day, she asked to pass by my house and before I knew it, we were dating. After-all it was obvious she was into me.”
The wrung-out Solomon says his former live-in girlfriend was a darling at first and, during the infatuation stage, they conceived their first child, “That is when all hell broke loose! She started showing me her true colours. I was confused and thought it was just pregnancy mood swings but the toxicity continued even post-partum. She would throw tantrums and when I felt I was at my wits’ end, I sought the help of one of her relatives, but she didn’t take kindly to that. Why? Because her niece revealed that was her aunt’s true nature: a bitter, obnoxious and difficult woman! She got so riled up that I spoke to her niece about our issues and yelled, ‘O a yaka! O maaka! O batla go ratana nae!’” he narrates, adding that she went on to accuse him of having a relationship with her niece and failed to appreciate that my decision to talk to someone, especially her own kin, was to try extend an olive branch to her.
Solomon was caught in a Catch-22 situation – the bulky man says besides the fact he didn’t want to have to raise his child away from himself, he also had to be fully present in their lives, “Look, I never envisioned myself as an absent father. I also realised that my baby mama had severed ties with her family therefore had no one to help during her confinement. Ke mo ipeetse botsetsi. But one day she complained that none of her family members was there to help her and when I tried to console her that I’d believed that my care would suffice and she should be happy to have such a helpful partner, she flew into a rage and smashed me in the face with a plate full of food! I began seeing her as a psychopath.”
Solomon didn’t leave because he remained hopeful that they would reconcile and continue growing the family. “Clearly I had my head buried in the sand because though I had my own place, we had started cohabiting. That was in 2016. Ke ne ke tsaya gore o tla ikaga. At the time, we were living in a three bedroom BHC house in Gaphatshwa. One day, out of the blue, she asked me to move out as her niece was coming to visit. Shocked, I asked her why I had to go when there was a spare bedroom to accommodate her niece, besides I am the father of her children. She said I could come back once her niece had gone. I left abruptly in the middle of the night and stayed away for a while. This woman has treated me very cruelly; there are so many unpleasant things she has done to me.”
In 2018, Solomon moved back in with her baby mama after she had pleaded with him to take her back.
She’d bought a plot in Oodi-Matebele, a plot that he helped develop.
“She would call frequently and sweet-talk me into moving back in with her and promised to mend her ways. She said she was concerned that if she had another man, he might be mean towards our children and even force her to take them out of private schools. She also complained that the new place wasn’t to her standard and was considering selling it hence when I moved back, and indeed I found the place in a mess. I went and bought plants to do some landscaping and turn the place into an attractive home. I even approached a friend of mine who is a builder and we both worked to complete the house. Subsequently, I moved my catering business to the place so I didn’t have to go back and forth between my place in Gaborone and Matebele. By that time, we had three children and she started to have health issues. That’s the reason I moved back, to be honest. Of course the love was still there. One night while out with a friend and I was alone with the kids, she burst a blood vessel in the brain. She had not been picking my calls for a while but later her friend answered and said that she’d been rushed to the hospital after complaining of a severe headache. Since she had our shared car, I had to walk all the way from Matebele to GPH, around midnight. There was no public transport available; I arrived there around 3am. She is so hard-hearted and could never appreciate that I loved her, and sometimes I wonder if she never saw how much I cared.”
Three years later, in 2021 around March, once again Solomon was evicted. The quarrelsome baby mama’s apparently vile character reared its ugly head again; it’s been a year since they broke up. “She threw me out after boasting that she had a new boyfriend. Men called her in the middle of the night yet she’d blatantly deny they were lovers. She’s abused me over the years and all I want is to see my children, who I haven’t seen since last May when I had bought them winter clothes. She has denied me access to my children and arrogantly said to me once, ‘You chose to have sex with me, ga ona bana le nna!’ Hee banna, just like that? When I’d call mediators to help talk some sense into her, she bragged that she was taught to never air her dirty laundry in public and also deny wrongdoing when she was accused of any misdemeanors.
She is so prideful and rude, even to relatives and neighbours, who’ve complained about her attitude. She thinks she’s educated, what education? In these times, all that matters is how much money one makes. I know how to make my own money, I do not depend on anyone,”
Solomon says his baby mama is so controlling that the reason why she got away with such toxic conduct all these years is because he’s a loving, responsible and committed father but refuses to be controlled. “Mathata ke gore o batla go ntira lelata la gagwe!”
I asked Solomon if he’s blameless in all of this and he says that he has several SMSes to prove the validity of his claims. “It has dawned on me that besides being an unpleasant person, she is also very manipulative, jealous, unsupportive and a user. I will not condone such. I have filed for custody. In responding to the court order, she denied refusing me access to my children and mentioned nonsensical and petty things; she says that I feed my kids magwinya, what is that? Has she never eaten fat-cakes? She was summoned to court after she threatened to get a restraining order against me. She fabricated lies, saying that when I went to see my kids, I attempted raping her yet she’s the one who occasionally calls me to tell me she’s horny, and begging me to have unprotected sex with her! These are embarrassing things. Why hasn’t she approached the courts or police about that? I have evidence of all the SMSes. I have served her with papers so we’ll meet in court!” he says as a parting shot.