Male housewives in Kenya
A popular clip making rounds on social networks shows a man who is envious of the "sedentary" life of his housekeeping wife. The man wishes his wife went to work, while he did the laundry, cooking and picking children from school, while careful not to become pregnant!
This was like a fairy tale in the last decade. But today, women are increasingly pursuing higher paying careers while their husbands enjoy staying at home attending to house chores. Housekeeping is slowly becoming a popular career among males.
Joseph, a father of five, says he left work five years ago when his wife got a job in an NGO. He quit his job when their house help ran away after a quarrel with his wife. "I would take the children to school on my way to work and pick them at 4pm. As an accountant, my wife used to work late," he recalls.
It was difficult for him to play both roles and it was affecting his work. He narrates: "I would arrive at work late and leave early since I was the only one driving and my work was more flexible than my wife’s.
My boss was not happy and wrote several warning letters until he could not take any more excuses."
Unwilling to take in another house help, his wife agreed to provide for the family while Joseph took care of the children.
Other men are willing to quit their jobs to salvage their marriages. Sammy Shitanda had been operating a big salon with his wife in Kitale. Women always preferred him to his wife, despite her expertise in the profession.
"Married women always called me even when the salon was closed, claiming they wanted me to do their hair, nails and so forth. School girls would show up at home saying they wanted urgent salon services," he says.
His wife Geraldine felt their marriage would end and advised Sammy to quit.
"I did not want women drooling at our doorstep. At the salon, I just stayed idle as they waited for Sammy on the queue," she says.
Like Sammy, Antony Kamau, a graduate teacher, quit the profession after a few months. Having gone to a provincial girls’ school in Murang’a where his wife Angelina was employed, he could not stand the stares of school girls and the endless queries after 5pm.
"Girls followed me in the office until the headmistress complained. Teachers began spreading rumours that I was having an affair with two Form Two girls. Finally I quit, a decision my wife welcomed," he explains. For Roselyne Nyambura, her
husband left his nursing job because it was denying him time to be with his family. She says: "Andrea was away all day and night even on weekends. Our three daughters kept asking why their father never
stays at home."
By then, Roselyne was running a business in Kiambu and was making a fortune.
"I bought a Toyota Rav4 within six months, while my husband struggled to pay bills. I finally decided to chip in on condition he left his job," she asserts.
Though he was forced to quit, Andrea says he is a happy husband: "I never thought that life can be so sweet. I felt relieved of the burden to struggle earning money that I would never enjoy."
Other men decide to stay home because they feel a pinch when giving out money to their "idle" wives. John got married immediately after graduating
and realised his wife was not willing to look for a job. "She told me her application letters did not go through yet we had done the same course.
I was earning so little and she did not even give me the chance to spend any single cent on my own," he says bitterly.
After two years, John was tired and threatened to leave his wife if she did not find a job.