A Diaspora Man’s new resolve: No more mister nice guy to women!
Kenyan men are not known to be ‘gentlemen’ within the American female ideal. They are not known to open the door for their wives or girlfriends. They walk straight to the driver’s door and sometimes their wives have to knock at the window to remind them to unlock the passenger door. A lot of Kenyan women complain that their husbands or boyfriends do not tell them they love them enough. However, there is movement within the younger generation of telling their parents they love them. I don’t remember telling my parents I loved them or they telling me they love me. The ideal was communicated through the fact that we lived together in the same home for years: And my parents provided my needs.
Love cannot be defined only within the verbal communication of the same. Neither can it be limited to action. Psychologists suggest that love is best expressed within both verbal and non-verbal communication. The bible presents the best example of expressed love. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son…” (John 3:16) The idea is that God has spoken verbally that He loves humanity and has demonstrated this love in the sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ on the Cross!
It is within this definition that a Kenyan diaspora expressed frustration. He and I joined the modern gathering of men. As priests, we have to be cautious of what gathering we attend. The best place to hear the real heart felt feelings of Kenyan men is during yam-chom. This is the modern male bonding event, which replaced the old round the fire gathering of men drinking the original brew. I am not a regular in these gatherings, and when I attend, I try to leave before Heineken takes over the bonding. When an outside force controls a gathering, people begin to repeat the same statement over and over again. The words like, ‘wewe wacha’, replace, ‘wacha nikwambie.’ And before you know it, everyone is speaking at the same time.
The issues of women usually come up, not as main topics, but as by the way. Within this drift, my friend brought up the issue of being nice to wives and children. “Say what you may but I will not be nice in my next relationship.” The guy said to the silence of the men gathered. As an apologist I seek to know foundations of things. Every statement we make comes from somewhere. Every profound idea is inspired within life and its events. Wanting to know the foundation, I protested on behalf of the others who did not want to dig deeper, “That is a strange statement to make man! Love is reciprocal.” He looked at me and said, “Man that is a bunch of hyperbole.”
I knew more was coming. I stirred the stew up on behalf of the others, “hyperbole? Come on man…reciprocal.” This got him going. “I always sought to make my wife and children happy. I gave them everything. My wife has never, ever found a place to live, I did. She never bought her own car, I did. She never paid the bills, I did. I was nice man. I bought time-shares, houses; I treated her better than wazungus treat their wives. The yard was also mine. I even used to open the door for her. What did I get?”
I decided to be sarcastic and said, “You were trying to buy love man! Maybe she did not love you!” I said laughing. “That is not a laughing matter man. Then what was she doing with me for over 20 years? By the way, your father married us”. He said in disgust. I could tell he was hurt but I knew something was not right. Therefore I decided to dig dipper. “How did you meet this woman?” This prompted him to remember something that happened before they got married. “Do you know she skipped our engagement party? She decided to go to Mombasa instead of attending our engagement.” He said reflectively.
Apparently he asked her to marry him and she said yes. Then she skipped town! “I loved this woman so much that I gave her everything. I was always playing to her desire for a nice man. Will not be nice in the next relationship!” He concluded. The other guys said nothing. But I think they agreed with me. The issue was not being nice: The girl didn’t love the guy. She may have a different story to tell!
My father told me one time that the best thing about his life was that Christ and my mother loved him. I never enquired how he knew, but he knew!
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD)
Diaspora messenger Senior Columnist