Good morning homeboy,
You have woken up to a world where the Kenyan women think that Kenyan men are weak. Well, this is probably the general feeling all over the world; it’s just that the Kenyan woman as usual yaps loudest. There’s probably one who just called me a sexist right now.
Let me tell you a short story. One day, when I was in class eight, I hated Science. Now believe me, it had nothing to do with Mr. Orina’s overzealous beatings or the fact that I could not understand why for-the-love-of-shea-butter we were studying something as bland as types of fertilizers. My God! I hated Science because I kept on failing, over and over, no matter how hard I tried, those green papers would come back with marks that were consistently below 80% and so Michelle Angwenyi stole index one from me. So I gave up passing Science and focused on more meaningful subjects whose teachers did not clobber me for obtaining terrible results, like English. My then class-teacher and Swahili teacher, Mr. Marwa noticed that I was raping every other subject except for Science, and my consistently poor results led him to believe that I was not even trying to remedy the situation, which was so damn true. Try for what?! So one evening as I was busy trying to hit on Yvonne, my desk mate, (who had hips for years come to think of it) he pulled me aside and asked me why the hell I was wasting my potential of getting 450 marks and above by letting my Science grade pull me down. I told him that I was terrible at Science and I wished that I could drop it from my life (so dramatic though). He looked at me and told me something I will never forget. He said “Martie you’re quite a brilliant young man, but your set mind is your greatest strength but now it is your biggest weakness. If you have a negative attitude towards Science then how do you expect to pass?”
As men, we tend to like facts, so let me throw some at you real quick: According to the National Education Association for Elementary Teachers, only 13% of elementary school teachers are men and they mostly teach classes 5 and 6. According to Professor Shelly Clark from McGill University, Kenyan women have a 59.5% chance of being single mothers by 45 either by premarital birth or dissolution of a union. So, maybe that crazy Njoki Chege was right in her article about “weak men”. Let me show you why.
The formative years of a child especially in Kenya revolve around three places; school, home and church. At home, these days, men have set a trend of either leaving their families or being stooges at home. So either there is a man in the home and he is a drunkard, emotionally unavailable or spends 90% of his time at work or out of the country to ensure that the children have enough to live a comfortable life. Then there’s the extreme where the man absconded fatherly duties long ago, a nice “hit-and-run” leaving the woman to raise the children alone.
In school, tell me how many times you will find a male teacher either in kindergarten or teaching a class below class four. A boy grows up seeing female behinds dancing around the board, he cannot even play dangerous games that teach him the stupid essence of accepting pain as a man because by the time he has run off in the school field and put soil in his mouth, there is already a teacher hitting his hand to let it go. I remember when I was younger, in school, we would play a game called “chobo ua.” It was basically soccer and if you were nutmegged (chobo for Kenyans), you had to run to a designated safe zone to avoid being assaulted by the other kids. I still have mental Elastoplasts from those experiences. We would hurl stones at each other, bleed then learn how to tolerate pain after howling; we would trudge barefoot and our soles would harden and crack; we would simulate wrestling matches and learn how to defend ourselves as well as establish a pecking order (I was Stone Cold) and we would make spit balls to distinguish ourselves from the ginger-ness involved with being girls. These days boys are under the watchful eyes of female teachers who are intensely nurturing and sensitive and will therefore seldom let a hair on the boys’ head be harmed, hence the new crop of sissy boys we have who cannot handle pain.
Last year, I taught at a public school, which had 1300 students and 36 teachers. There were about 600 boys and 700 girls. Out of these 36 teachers, 3 of them were male. Only 3 were men. One was the head-teacher who did not teach and only interacted with the students on Mondays and Fridays during school assemblies; the other was a drunk centipede who was always insulting the children and being insulted by female teachers; the last one was the only responsible man in that compound., diligent, strict and very respectful. So that means one role model for 600 boys to emulate? Nah bruh; that’s setting up our boys for failure.
Let me paint the picture for you. At home, the boy is likely only nurtured by his mother or his grandmother, watching her take charge of the home, so he grows up knowing that at home, it is the woman who is in charge because there is no man. As a result, he is shy about taking charge because in his mind, only women take charge. In school, he grows up under the watchful eye of his female teachers who take charge of his education, and correct him when he is wrong, and he picks up all the cute dainty habits of not picking your nose, or not eating with his hands, or not fighting for what he thinks belongs to him. I church, he is shepherded to God by his female Sunday School teacher who tells him all about how awesome Jesus is, but in his head, he’s like, “But Jesus was a man?!” and that does not add up to him because God is our Father in heaven. He does not know how to relate with God if he is to think of God as his Father, because first, he cannot see this God, just as he has never seen his father; and second, because he does not see why he needs a Father in heaven because he does not even know what the one on earth is supposed to do.
My niggas we are in trouble. This is how so many of us have grown up. Surrounded by useless men as well as women who seem to be strong but they were only filling a gap left by those they were meant to raise us with. This is not an excuse for mediocrity but the truth just as it is. Some of us, like me, were lucky. Our fathers were around, and they were active; they gave us advice on women, showed us how to ride bikes and tie our shoe-laces and carve out “mwikos” from bare wood, showed us how to take care of dogs and showed us how to treat our women by loving their own. They taught us that when the neighbour steals your wife’s parking slot you come out of the house with a club; that if someone hit your sister, you come out with a bigger club; taught us to wash our socks and tie our ties; taught us how to slaughter a chicken and how to skin a goat; taught us to be weak before God in prayer and taught us how to change tires and that real strength is changing our minds whenever there’s an alternative that’s better than our own.
The stereotypes create a single story of weak men in our current society. This piece claims that some of it is true and shows why, but also asserts that there are still strong men who still fight it out and keep the alpha male real amidst 2/3 gender rules, amidst Affirmative Action, Amidst the dishing out of undeserved Female Representative Seats, amidst 33% of all board-members being women and amidst female empowerment. Female empowerment is all good; I have no problem with it, except that it is inequitable. We are giving an upper hand to people who already have an upper hand because of generational circumstances as shown above. It is assumed that boys have a head start, but where is it? A boy and a girl both born in 2001 are in the same position, none above the other, but female empowerment takes both children to the starting line of a marathon and then becomes a helper to the girl, taking her hand and walking her to the finish-line while the boy remains at the starting line, wondering why his hand is not being held. Then later on, when the girl is ahead, she looks behind and starts screaming “Men are weak! Where is the man to take care of me? Nowhere!” Yet no one told the boy that they were meant to follow; so he was left behind.
Martie Mtangi (22)