For weeks now, men have been mobilising, yelling viva and calling upon one another to attend a nebulous men’s conference on February 14; a day they were to express love to their women. Of course, that pissed off many women, with some slamming such characters for being boyish or jokers running away from responsibilities.
One Alice Kendi, a hair stylist, does not have kind words for such men. She says: “We have way too many boys in this country, masquerading as men. Just observe, especially in Nairobi, we have so many men in their late 20s and 30s who have refused to grow up.”
While rhetorically wondering where ‘real men’ went to, Kendi says there are way too many ‘useless men’ who have jobs and earn enough cash to run a family, but have no intentions or plans to settle down.
“They cannot get enough of toys. They often drive sports cars. Those tiny toys no self-respecting man would proudly give his mother-in-law a lift in. When they graduate, they buy blue Subarus, which they pimp with music systems, loud enough to compete for attention with a night club or a posho mill,” she says.
Kendi adds that another favourite pastime for such grown brats is video games. She says they compete with teenagers for game controllers and playing pads at estate video game dens.
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“When they are not playing animated football and screaming like lunatics, they are engrossed in some childish computer games. Stroll into those dens and you will be shocked to find grown men playing and howling like teenagers,” she adds.
As for Daisy Nyakio, a sales representative, there are enough boys masquerading as men in Nairobi. She says when you first meet them, they behave like serious grown-ups. But with time, you regret ever giving them a chance.
“I dated some guy a while back. He always sagged his pants. His dressing style was always sloppy, even when in official clad,” she agonizes, adding that at times she would deliberately decline to accompany the man to events, fearing embarrassment.
The catalogue of men who have refused to grow up is lengthy. Another common complaint we got while preparing this report was about men who impregnate women, deny responsibility and vanish. Also, apparently, there is something absolutely wrong with an adult in his late 20s or over 30, who has no qualms living in his parent’s house.
“It’s un-African for a grown man to still live under his parent’s roof. It’s even a big scandal for such types to entertain their girlfriends in such houses,” says Nyakio, adding that another annoying group is those men who borrow friends’ apartments to entertain their girlfriends.
And it does no stop there; another common complaint we got was that there was an influx in Nairobi of men who drink like college kids. They drink every day like they are discovering alcohol daily. Some even compete to drink beer and brag about it the following day. The ladies complained that these childish men had playboy tendencies and slept around like their lives depended on it.
“Considering they operate in groups, they are ever competing on who will sleep with the highest number of women. They never get into serious relationships, but always looking for hit and run prospects in women,” says Wendy Kalekye.
Kalekye adds that hanging out with such men is a painful experience. In their company, mud-slinging is sanctioned. Fist fights are commonplace over trivialities.
Felix Kwama, a city-based counseling psychologist and life coach, says adulthood comes with responsibilities, which most such men are not ready for.
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“If projection of the last Population and Housing Census on the rise of female-headed households is anything to go by, then, the country could be now facing a serious fatherhood crisis, courtesy of such men,” he says.
Kwama says the sharp rise of female-headed or female maintained families is as a result of a big void that men have refused to fill.
“This sad state of affairs is slowly but surely leading to a fatherhood crisis, with pointers all over. First, deadbeat fathers are increasingly becoming rampant. Secondly, families where both parents are present, most fathers are said to be passive in parenting,” he says.
Kwama says it is high time men self-evaluated to figure out when the rain began to beat them, before making noise on such things as men’s conference. “The older folks must now deliberately try to train young men on how to become real men. As young men grow, thy have to be taught to understand life, figure out women and the various dynamics of relations between both genders,” he says.
He says there are many subtle things young men are clueless about, which they should know for they are very important in helping them gel well with members of the opposite gender.
“They, for instance, must be socialised on when to shut up, how to predict fire and brimstone from a lady and how to manage such a situation,” he says.
Men, the good life coach advises, must learn to understand the different types of women and how to handle them. Stuff like flirting, he says, are basics that one must equip himself with for the sake of courtship and know how far it goes and when to stop.
“Boys must be taught how to socialise, make friends and handle rejection from women. If necessary, know your drinks. When to throw a round and not being a burden in social places. Learn to open your beer bottles with teeth or even using another bottle,” he laughs, adding that it’s a shame most men today can’t hunt on the dating scene by themselves and have to move in groups like teenagers or hyenas!
He says socialisation sounds easy and almost unnecessary, but wait until you, as a man, are a lone in the club and you need to pick a woman but lack the basic skills to even break ice.
“As a young man, learn to seduce women with civility. Learn how to pick a lady at a wedding, in a matatu, or in the streets or even at the office. All these things need tack and the different scenarios require different approaches. Picking a lady in a group is different from picking one when solo. Boys must learn to keep a relationship fire burning,” says Kwama.
Apparently, if you cannot balance between love for your mother or girlfriend or wife, you are not yet a real man, if Kwama is to be believed.
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He says such a delicate situation needs prudence, which can never be learnt in a sociology or psychology class.
“A real man has to learn to be self-sufficient. Learn how to repair a sink, fix a car tyre, fix a broken door, change diapers,” says Kwama.
He adds that if you cannot administer simple first aid to, say, someone choking on food, you have a long way to go in as far as being considered a real man.
The life coach says a man must learn how to swim, to slaughter a chicken, to fish and know how to chase deals and win or even places to buy goods and services at discounts.
“Being a man is an art. Men must stay fit. Hit the gym and learn how to fight and fend off thugs in a dark alley and survive. Know how to play with kids and befriend pets. As a young man, you must learn how to gel with wazees, how to drink with 70-year-old uncles or even how to mingle with your 50-year-old aunts,” he says.
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He concludes that there are items a real man must also have to help him handle various life situations.
“There are books with very vital lessons about life like The Richest Man in Babylon, which every man must read. Every young man must have a mentor, certain clothing items like a leather jacket and a white shirt for special events. Heck, a lethal weapon like a sword, nyahunyo (rubber whip) or gun to protect your loved ones is necessary. Needless to mention some cash savings, among many others,” he says, adding that they must also pay dowry!