The Observer (Kampala)

22 November 2012

Uganda: Delilah Effect - When Women Bring Down Great Men

For the CIA boss, Gen David Petraeus, who has been married to his wife Holly for the last 38 years, the temptation from Paula Broadwell could have arisen out of proximity. The person who crafted the cheeky saying that "behind every great man's fall is a woman" was spot-on. See, right from the biblical stories of Adam and Eve and Samson and Delilah to the late Maj Gen James Kazini, men's mighty empires have come crumbling at the whimsy actions of women.

But what is more worrying is that more than ever, this phenomenon- code-named the 'Delilah effect' from the Samson and Delilah story- seems to be on the rise. Are men not learning from their experiences? Are women simply irresistible? Is it a natural thingy?

Well, The Observer today sets out to investigate this unfortunate phenomenon, drawing examples from well known cases and talking to experts. Now, Christians are familiar with this one- the story of Samson and Delilah.

Samson was a fierce Jewish warrior who terrorized enemy armies, particularly the Philistines single-handedly, courtesy of his supernatural physical strength. But his love affair with Delilah, a stunning liaison, marked the beginning of his downfall and eventual demise.

It was not long before the Philistines approached Delilah with bribes so she could persuade her lover into divulging the source of his strength. Delilah agreed. Using her powers of seduction and deception, she eventually, on the fourth attempt, wore down Samson into revealing the secret - his divine hair.

She later connived with conspirators to shave it off, leaving him subdued for easy capture. Before the Samson story, another biblical character Adam, the first man to be created by God, had succumbed to a woman.

As master of all creatures, Adam had the entire universe eating from the palm of his hand until one day when his canny wife, Eve, persuaded him into eating a fruit that had been outlawed by God. His defiant action cost him paradise and brought suffering upon mankind.

Critics say those two cases, particularly Adam's, set in motion a permanent situation where men will forever fall at the hands of women. The view is especially held by the religious fraternity.

"God gave men a soft spot for women," says Pastor. Martin Ssempa of Makerere Community Church. "This weakness is even [seen] more among men in powerful positions because so many women want them for different reasons."

Ssempa warns that the Delilah effect is inevitable and that powerful men have to develop mechanisms to resist seduction and temptation.

"Sexual influence is women's strongest tool and men need to know that so as to avoid scandals," Ssempa said, echoing the case of Gen David Petraeus, the former CIA boss who recently resigned following a sex saga with his biographer.

For the CIA boss, who has been married to his wife Holly for the last 38 years, the temptation from Paula Broadwell could have arisen out of proximity. Broadwell was Petraeus' biographer and she was accorded unprecedented access to the general while he was in Afghanistan.

Yet Petraeus is not alone. Several other prominent figures continue to fall victim to the Delilah effect. Take the example of Tiger Woods, once the highest-paid athlete in the whole world and considered by many as the best golfer to ever grace the course.

Wood's story is shameful. He cheated on his wife on a daily basis and with different women, the reason the former top golfer has not won sympathy ever since the scandal blew out in 2009. And the effects have been devastating.

The divorce aside, Wood's fame and fortune have terribly deteriorated. In two years, his world ranking had dropped from 1st to 58th. Many companies have since revoked their sponsorship, costing him billions of dollars.

Another American star, actor-cum-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger of the Terminator fame became infamous in 2009 after it was revealed he had a 14-year-old son with his long-time housemaid, despite being married for 25 years.

His wife, who has since divorced him, said she felt betrayed by Schwarzenegger because he had cheated on her right under their marital home's roof. But it's not only the wife who has left him, even the fans and employers.

And since the Delilah effect knows no borders or race, Ugandan men haven't escaped either. Perhaps the best example is Maj Gen James Kazini (RIP), former army commander and one of the most accomplished UPDF officers.

On November 10, 2009, the country woke to chilling news. Kazini had been killed in cold blood by his lover, Lydia Draru, 28. Draru, a former prostitute, struck the 52-year-old battle-hardened soldier on the head multiple times with a metallic pipe during a domestic brawl in which he apparently accused her of stealing his money.

The country has never come to terms with Kazini's death. Why a successful soldier and married father of five chose to fall in love with a low-life woman- who eventually killed him- is still a mystery to many.

Former Makerere Vice Chancellor, Prof Venansius Baryamureeba also had a fair share of the Delilah effect when a one Tracy Ninsiima filed rape charges against him. Despite court's decision to exonerate the academic, pundits believe the scandal eventually contributed towards Barya's axing.

Now, though the above cases ended in the victim's total (or near) downfall, experts say there are chances the victim can actually bounce back and reclaim his old glory.

"We call them negative life events and yes, you can recover from them," Dr Eugene Kinyanda, a professional pyscologist and research specialist at Butabika hospital, says. But he adds that the victims must seek professional help. Ssempa agrees.

"Even the Bible tolerates mistakes as long as you commit to repent and never to do it again," he says, imploring wives to give their husbands a chance to correct their wrongs.

According to Christianity principles, however, an extramarital affair is a sound basis for divorce. But Ssempa says humanity should supersede in such situations.

"These things happen," he says, quickly adding "but prevention is better than cure."

Quite often, the Delilah effect is fueled by an extramarital affair or sex flings, the reason experts advise wives to take utmost care of their husbands' conjugal rights.

But most women we talked to said it's hard to impress a man who wields power.

And this seems to hold some water. Tiger Woods himself later confessed he felt he was entitled to cheating because he is very rich and popular. Well, there you have it fellas. They are rich and feel entitled.

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