Why Kenyan men panic over pregnancy news
A peek into this magazine’s agony aunt’s mail box and letters to the editor reveals shocking details of distraught women, sobbing and desperate for advice, after they broke news of their pregnancy to their boyfriends and ‘mpango wa kandos’.
“My child’s dad bolted days after I told him I am pregnant, I can’t get over him. Advise pleaaaase…” a woman sobs in a letter to the agony aunt.
“I’m seven months pregnant. I took the contraceptive injection, and still got pregnant. Unfortunately, my child’s father wants nothing to do with me or my child; in fact, he claims he doesn’t know me! His last test message to me was asking who I am! I just really need some advice…” a woman whined in yet another letter.
“My baby daddy vanished when I was three months pregnant. My kid has never seen him. He is now a grown boy, and keeps asking who his father is. What do I do, because I am always tempted to tell him his father is such an idiot…” another rant from a jilted woman reads in part. The sob tales and rants go on and on.
This state of affairs got these writers wondering why men vanish when the “Honey, I am pregnant!” piece news is broken unto them.
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Kevin Chimwani, a Nairobi resident says one of the reasons men vanish once they get such news is that “the women in question are normally the wrong type”.
Hear him: “For some strange reason, it is always the ‘wrong women’ who easily, and always, get pregnant. For instance, when you fool around with your house help, she always gets pregnant pap!
‘Wrong women’ easily get pregnant
“Same thing with interns 20 years your junior, random women in your neighborhood —those you can never parade in public and introduce as your girlfriends and only deal with them in darkness —and under 18s such as your neigbour’s teenage daughters whom you bed against your better judgement, among others.”
Thus, as Chimwani says, when such a woman or girl breaks the news of pregnancy, any man who values his reputation has every reason to go missing.
“What other option do you have as a married man when your neighbours maid whom you, out of curiosity, ‘banged’ tells you a few weeks later that she is pregnant? I have an old friend who was in such a quagmire.
“He had to move houses, and when rumours began flying around that he was responsible, he denied any involvement with the maid to save face!” adds a Chimwani, amid giggles.
Trapping hot babes backfires
He concludes by saying that the same thing never happens with hot women. “Interestingly, when you try trapping a hot babe with pregnancy, it always backfires. Somehow, such women don’t easily get knocked up. I tried with my campus sweetheart in vain,” chuckles Chimwani.
Men are afraid of three things; snakes, prostrate examinations and, of course, news of unexpected pregnancy from a woman who is not their wife. It is news that makes men disappear often for good or simply brings the monster out of them.
Dangers of unprotected sex
Despite the dangers of unprotected sex, people still engage in it anyway. After all, whom was emergency pills invented for? Many always ask rhetorically. Such attitudes, coupled with the familiarity and complacency that sets in after a few sexual encounters, make people to throw caution to the wind.
Unwanted pregnancies connote forced fatherhood. In a ground-breaking essay in the New York Times in 2013, writer Laurie Shrag wrote: “If a man accidentally conceives a child with a woman, his choices are surprisingly few.”
Influx of runaway dads
Obviously, her argument is not just valid among men in the US; they have great company in Kenyan men.
Children’s courts have become popular and men may not be on the run for long, as evidenced by the nine-hit wonder of Deadbeat Dads.
The law is continuously circling on runaway dads, whose number seems to be soaring. Few people are asking why more and more men are running from their prospective children, yet no answers seem forthcoming.
Citing philosopher Elizabeth Brake, Shrag noted that policies should give men who accidentally impregnate a woman more options. Such is a discussion we should have in Kenya.
Agony of forced fatherhood
We are increasingly hurtling towards a generation of forced fatherhood, which consequently leads to cases of unloving dads, forced by law to ‘step up’; something they do not just reluctantly, but also grudgingly.
This ‘wrong type of women getting pregnant’ theory seems to be popular among most men. Last December, Nathan Waithaka, 30, an insurance salesman, received a curt and tersely-worded text message with what he describes as “chilling news”. The SMS was from a woman he was not very serious with, but only fooling with just for the heck of it.
Hospitalised over “I’m pregnant” SMS
“Swiry, I’m pregnant, you are the father and I’m keeping it,” read the text message. To digest the news, he had to order some tough drink.
“I hardly knew her second name. We had had a fling. And I am dead sure I was not the only man she was seeing. She only chose to claim that I was responsible because she suspected I was financially stable,” says Waithaka with a dismissive grin on his face.
To remedy the situation, he took to a drinking spree that got him ambulated to a nearby hospital. “I woke up and found myself in a hospital bed, and on the drip. Reason? News of pregnancy! Would you believe that?” he reveals.
“She was the wrong woman for me. I will not marry her, no matter what,” Waithaka vows. At 30 and single, he can ably be someone’s husband and father, but not with the said woman.
Not yet ready for fatherhood
Some young men deny responsibility for pregnancies they cause because they feel they are not ready to be dads. Fatherhood, they believe, ends one’s youth. They imagine that fatherhood, at their ‘tender age’, is tantamount to leaving a bash at 7 o’clock; when the fun has just began!
They fear becoming more responsible. This unplanned-for fatherhood, they argue, stops one from going out, partying, visiting buddies and staying out till late.
They feel fatherhood generally changes one’s social life, sex life and brings a lot of dynamics into a relationship. But can’t they have protected sex?
Dire financial implications
Becoming a father without a plan has serious negative financial implications. It is an open secret that fathers are the sole breadwinners in most families. Men, including married ones, like children, panic at the news of an unplanned-for pregnancy; for it spells doom to their financial plans.
Paul Ngesa, 28, a public health officer, was 24 and in college when he was hit with pregnancy news. He wanted to be done with college, and was certain to be jobless for a while. So raising a child was going to be a big task for him.
Providing food, diapers, medical attention and many other responsibilities was an uphill task Ngesa was not ready for.
Fear of being trapped into marriage
“She was a year behind me in campus. And if she gave birth, it was going to be difficult for us, especially her. I gave her all the alternatives, and eventually she settled for an abortion,” he says, adding that today he regrets sanctioning the abortion. It would seem men rarely get ready for fatherhood. Often, it is thrust upon them.
Some women are cunning. When every charming tricks in the book fails, they trap men into marriage using pregnancies. Many men got into marriage through that trick. It happens when a man weighs all the options, and marriage remains the only peaceful, economical and moral one.
Statistically, the number of men who have been trapped into marriage by an ‘accidental’ pregnancy can vote for president in Kenya. When push comes to shove, some men have taken a woman as a second wife. Remittances towards child upkeep can be too draining, you know.
According to Mwaniki, a barber in Kiambu town, men should never accept responsibility for pregnancies, whether from their girlfriends, wives or any female species.
“Men must be very careful because nowadays when a woman says she is pregnant, chances are she is not. And she only wants to use that as a way to fleece you. And if, indeed, she is pregnant, chances are you are not the father, it’s just that she suspects, out of all the men she sleeps with, you look financially stable and she wants to trap you into marriage,” says Mwaniki.
“Truth be told, it is up to the ladies to ensure they do not get pregnant. Men have very little control on that,” says Mwaniki.
Girlfriends VS wife material
Just like they say every man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad, the same applies for women. Any woman can get pregnant and give birth, but it takes a special woman to be a mum. Ken Ombachi says there are women who are only good as girlfriends but can never be good as mothers.
“Their girlfriends you just can’t imagine them as mother of your child. Whoever came up with the whole concept of motherhood just didn’t have them in mind,” hisses Ombachi.
Arnold Marube has had a brush with a woman he will never have been proud to be the mother of the kids.
“She drank too much. Smoked a lot and was generally untidy. Hardly the right woman,” says Murube, adding: “She was the kind of woman you ‘play’ with, not one you want as a wife or even as your baby mama.”
Girls, there you have it. So before you spread your legs, make sure the man is ready and can stand you as mother of his child.