Caroline Mutoko tell women not to pay their own dowry


Caroline mutokohave never wanted to be an agony aunt. But that article in Crazy Monday about two weeks ago and the subsequent conversations we all had on The Big Breakfast and thereafter with everyone including some of the things #KOT (Kenyans On Twitter) said, means I can’t really ignore it.

However, I have to be honest and admit that I still cringe when I remember that bold headline on Crazy Monday. Cringing because I have been party to the madness at a time when we didn’t know better, cringing because I know stuff like that never, ever ends well.

The article that run on November 17, 2013 stated, “Stories have been told of women who boost their social image by writing love letters to themselves.

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Others buy and send themselves gifts, delivered in the office. The game has been taken a notch higher, with some women now paying their own dowry.” The article then goes on to say, using the case of Nick as an example…

“Worried of her fiancé being taken by another woman or perhaps cheating on her, Nick’s fiancée planned and financed their wedding in which Nick’s only responsibility was to show up and walk her down the isle!

And as if that was enough, she paid her dowry to her parents back in Kenya. During a phone interview — from his base in the United States of America — with this writer, Nick revealed that he got a job and they are happily married; and sees no problem with his wife having paid her own dowry.”

Have I been party to the dowry paying thingy? Yes. In my twenties – there was a period of lunacy that I can’t explain, worse still I can’t even forget it. But in reference to the Crazy Monday article – I have learnt through the paying dowry saga, holding crying girlfriends through heart-break and even divorce (I am from the divorce generation) that we are not the same and in looking for partners (whether temporary or for life) we need to distinguish between boys and men. You are born male, one becomes a man. Man is an active term.

Let’s start with the basics. Asking you out or pursing you. A man knows what he wants, and goes for it. Yes he might get rejected and his ego or even his physical self might get bruised, but he does what he has to do.

He will call, text, e-mail, show up.  Boys act passive. Like it really doesn’t matter if you say yes or no. He sits out the whole issue of pursuing you. Sadly, girls/women make excuses for boys and step in the gap. Girlfriend – don’t. A boy is passive, a man is active. Nay assertive.

Boys are visual, men are mental. You can always tell if you’re dealing with a boy because all he ever talks about is how hot, sexy, wild or exciting a girl is. Boys love the train-wreck chicks.

The ones who will party at the drop of a hat, who’s knickers slide off after three drinks, the ones who are ready to leave town now and will drink until they can’t remember their names. Men are different – they are visual yes – but that lasts for a few seconds and that’s where we girls get it all wrong.

A man decides if he’ll ever see you again or for how long based on your outlook on things. A man looks for a woman with intelligence, who is supportive, grounded and shares a certain set of values. That’s why I always say, when a man speaks – listen. Yap – even when he says the things you don’t want to hear. Listen woman! Listen.

A man doesn’t run away from confrontation. He has the courage to deal with uncomfortable situations and conversations. That includes the basics –  “…yes, I had a child in high-school. Yes, I am recently divorced and I’m not ready for marriage”.

He is honest with his intentions – including “I am not leaving my wife, but I enjoy your company.  I won’t change, I am a certain way”. Girls/women hate hearing the brutal truth and that’s why men say women like being lied to.

Make a choice my sister – a man deals with matters head-on. A boy ignores all that, he runs away from it or creates drama or excuses to avoid dealing with certain situations or conversations.

“I don’t want to marry you…” is a lot better than, “….my deal fell through I have no money for dowry”. Then silly you goes and gets a loan to pay the dowry for him. Nkt. Desperate much?

A man knows how to invest – period. It is clear in how he spends his time, his energy and even his money. Those are his investments. A man is not afraid to invest in a woman he wants –  he will invest time, energy, fuel, money. So you live in kinoo?

No problem. If he has to drive 40minutes to see you, he will. The dowry is an issue – no problem, he will find a solution or he will tell you to wait until he can pay it.

Don’t take up his role. On the otherhand, a boy is always “testing” – and he never really invests in anything and especially you. Not time, energy, attention or even money. He is always “waiting.” Remember what I told you – Man is an active term.

But for me the big one has always been this – A man has integrity. It isn’t about a romanticised version of the word – integrity is hard and it’s brutal. It also means he does and takes on things that are tough, unpalatable and even inconvenient.

He means what he says, and says what he means. Once again – we don’t like the nasty bits, so he lies because women like to be lied to. However, by and large, a man has follow through and actions his promises.

And if he can’t he has the guts to tell you why. I can’t pay the dowry because I’m not ready to marry you/I don’t have the money right now. I don’t think we should move in together because I like my space.

I can’t see you this week-end because I am chasing some money, I’m watching Arsenal. A boy makes promises but doesn’t follow through. I will finish this article like I started it – yes, I cringe when I see Crazy Monday boldly talking about women who write their own love letters, send themselves flowers and gifts and even pay their dowry.

Question is, do we do that because we believe equal means similar, because we are desperate or is it simply that we have refused to identify if the person we are with is a man or a boy. Roles must be respected no matter what. Equal does not mean similar.

The conclusion to the article is worth reading over and over and keeping ““The moment a woman pays her bride price, she spells doom to her marriage.

By so doing, one renders herself desperate and becomes a slave of sorts to her husband in future, when other variable and dynamic come at play such as children. Such women subject themselves to unnecessary pressure of solely making the marriage successful.

“In the event of a small dispute, which is inevitable in any normal marriage, the man will use it against her and make her feel more responsible and susceptible to depression.

Paying one’s bride price has a boomerang effect on the woman,” warns the marriage counselor. He concludes that as much as there must be a few variations and changes in the modern marriages, bride price has a central place and men should pay it, no matter what, even if it means delaying or paying in bits. Remember – a boy is passive. Man is an active term. Let him act.


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