Stories From Afrika

For the men …

Am African, and being African is part of me. I would hope that my readers don’t read this post on a chauvinistic point of view because I believe we are good people who were brought up well.

When I was young, I really looked up to the men in my life. My old man, my uncles, my neighbours, the men who drove the tea lorries, the men in church… My male teachers, men in my village, the list is just endless. That is how we were raised as boys – GROW UP AND BECOME MEN. We relished it, and that is why, unlike the new crop of boys, we would break the family’s only thermos if you were told that your circumcision had been moved to the following year.

Our perspective about men was the perfect gentlemen, and we idolized being in command, making decisions for the family, and being in Church committees.

There have been many changes from the traditional gentleman to the modern one, more of an inevitable metamorphosis. Traditionally, a man was the head of the family and had to have an iron fist (unless he had gone to Nairobi and got his head corrupted). Our fathers were not the cosy fathers of these days. Growing up, I don’t remember hugging my father, maybe he hugged me when I was still soiling my pants. Who knows? Heck, we never called our old men ‘daddy’ or ‘dad’ in our village, and instead, it was ‘baba’ (read fafa). Maybe calling them dad would lower their street-cred among other men. Instead of being a roll of cotton, they were a cactus cutting, sharp on the outside, but with a succulent inside. They knew their role in the family was providing the physical needs and left their wives to do the emotional support and shit.

I remember this one time my old man decided that he had enough of my tiny ass being single and decided to give me what can be ignorantly referred to as a ted talk. We were in the living room, and even the birds outside went silent to respect the tension.

Ngurie ri, hihi kuri kundu turitwara mburi kana?’ (are there hopes of us paying dowry any time soon?) He asked, with some sarcasm in his voice.

aca ti naihenya..’ (Not so soon).

Tsk tsk tsk’. He replied, shaking his head. ‘Go and fetch me some tea.’ That is how the conversation ended. To be honest, I felt judged. We never had any such talk again, and I still see the disappointment in his face. Sometimes I toy around what he might have thought as I walked out to fetch the tea he never even touched until a fly flew in and drowned.

‘These weak fellows, cant even seduce a girl. I guess we pamper them much! Or maybe they are eating too much? I swear this one is thin but eats like an ant! Or maybe the food goes into his head….’

His trail of thought must have been broken as I laid the tea on the table and sat there, silent like a rock.

‘Look at him now, can’t even get himself busy! Can they even dig a toilet, as I did with just a knife as I fought off waitina’s cops? The four of them and their sister? I bet they would die halfway, Haha!’

‘let me go easy on them, maybe they will pass their exams and pay someone to dig me another toilet. But wait, this one doesn’t even give us his college result slips, always lies that they only do one main exam at the end of the year. He thinks I don’t know/ Damn, am not getting a new toilet soon. But Peter has some muscles, maybe he can.’ The serious side of him must have added.

Men made sure their kids went to school, had clothes, had food to eat, and that there was some money kept aside as a form of investment. By the introduction, you already know am a big-time admirer of the traditional man. They always had their shit together, and nothing ever seemed to faze them. As a man, you had to have the courage of a honey burger.

You know how they say kids believe their fathers are the richest, strongest and bravest? That was the mantra. Back then, every man was respected, and you had to respect a man in his household, whether he had a car and a small garage, or the most expensive metal in his house was the rusty bicycle leaning against a mango tree outside the main house. You respected a shoe shiner the same way you did a headmaster, and they all had the same rights when it came to whooping your ass.

Am not sure the kind of fathers we will make, but am just hopeful that we can be a blend between the fathers of old, and modern daddies. Tough enough to instil discipline in our kids, but soft enough to give them a chance to talk about their insecurities in the now crazy society. As men, we have bigger boots to fill now, and even bigger vices to protect our women and kids from. This is just a post to celebrate my fellow men, but it would be unfair to let the ink dry without mentioning paedophilia. If there is something that would give me a restful sleep in my grave, is knowing that paedophilia was but a part of the dark past. It’s an Achilles heel that keeps painting a bold black on our credibility as men.  

That aside. Did you know today was International Men’s Day? I bet you didn’t! Am part of this beautiful organization, The Wounded Healers Foundation, where we give care for to victims of sexual violence, and fate has it that on the staff WhatsApp group, am the only male species. I kept refreshing my WhatsApp wishing for a single wish, but it was silent like the Kalahari on a calm night. When I confronted them, they were throwing in laughing emojis asking if I were sure. I had to google and send them a screenshot. The theme for this year’s International men’s day is ‘Better Health for the men and boys’. Since am a good person, I did some small research and came across this post by Healthline, which has some very important insight on men’s health. Have a read and take heed. Oooh, don’t forget to hydrate, if not for anything else, the difference between healthy sperms and otherwise ones may be that water you drink.

I have a problem with November 19th being International Men’s day, not because someone chose to hide it in some quiet non-ceremonial month of the year, but because another idiot decided that the day would also be World’s Toilet Day. It is not even funny.

This is my small way of wishing a Happy International men’s day to all the men out there. It’s my way of saying that you can get yourself out of the murky waters, you can win that battle with addiction… You can be the greatest.

This post goes out to all men out there. You are great, you are celebrated, and whatever you are going through, you are strong enough for it. Just hold on there. The post also goes out to our fallen heroes, our dads in heaven, we miss you, and we are holding on to your teachings. This post is for my baba munyinyi. Continue resting well papa. We love you.

  • Wamugi Gichuri.
  • wamugi@tuketi.co.ke

10 thoughts on “For the men …

  1. Haha….”or the most expensive metal in his house “. I remember how we would ask each other this question as we walked home after a roadside football (fight) match.

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