A response to the author of an article that appeared in a newspaper in my country.
OF MASCULINITY, YOUNG MEN AND BEING BROKE
I was seated at my favorite joint last Saturday perusing my Nation newspaper as I waited for the afternoon football match to kick off in the ongoing FIFA world cup. I came across an article in the paper written by one Njoki Chege. In the article, she lambasted a hapless young lad called Mariga W. Thoiti who had narrated an incident in his Twitter handle. The article spurred me to write down my two cents worth of feedback to Ms. Njoki.
Ms. Njoki dear, first and foremost, I must say that I neither know Mr. Mariga nor have I had a look at the said 'long Twitter thread'. Facebook is enough for me. All information I have on the matter is from your article. Here is what I gathered:
So let's begin.
On going for a Date or a Groupie
An example for starters. Let's say you hold a house party at your crib, maybe to mark a birth day or a child's christening. You give me an invitation card with ONLY my name on it. But on the material day, I show up at your doorstep accompanied by my baby mama, kid and mboch, my buddies from the hood with their beaus plus the two shagzmondoz who've come to visit me from the village. Picture that? I can almost see the look of horror on your face as you open the door for me. I'd bet you a thousand dimes you would throw me one hell of a Trump-er tantrum that even Melania never witnessed on her first fight with the manic Manhattan billionaire. Or at the very least you would be civilized enough to call me aside and read me my riot act. And if you were a Mombasa resident like me, you would probably have indulged in a healthy dose of umbeya with your girlfriends in the party about my unschooled oversight. Whichever way, something would have been made clear. Then imagine that even after all this, I still have the cojones to call you a 'broke' party host, simply because you had issues entertaining my posse.
With that perspective mind, I refer you to paragraph 6 of your article. "I have this to say Thoithi and his Sacco of similarly-minded young men. I want you to listen.........; if you cannot afford to take a woman out on a proper date, please stay at home. If you cannot pay for your woman's drinks, food and whatever else she might want, switch off your phone...." Well said, sounds like you are the type that sees a date the same way a refugee from Dadaab camp sees a lorry-full of UN rations. But since you speak of a 'proper date', let's talk about what that really means.
In any civilized society, a date would generally be understood as an agreement between two persons to set aside specific time to meet at a specific place and spend quality time together, usually over something like dinner or an afternoon picnic. The place could either be a restaurant, park, beach, or pub while the persons involved could be family, friends or lovers. At most times, a date is understood to have romantic undertones, mostly between a man and woman (i.e. for us heterosexuals). Ironically, the picture captured alongside your article depicts exactly that classic scenario, ONE man with ONE woman enjoying wine over a dinner table, not ONE man and TEN women at the table.
Given this analogy, I am well-versed to know that as a man I would have to take the initiative and be the one who asks the woman for a date. I would also have to take the lead in suggesting a decent place that befits the stature of the lady. At most times, I would also know the price range of items at the venue because I know I am expected to foot the bill. This is all stuff that I know you know, because am sure you must have had your fair share of dates back in your day. But what we don't know in the case of young Mariga, is who invited who and for what? From what I learned from your piece, it seems Mariga was invited by a girl for what he thought was a 'proper date'. On reaching the venue, he found his would-be date in the company of her girlfriends. So now we have to ask ourselves, was this a date or a groupie? (and I mean groupie in context, not porn).
If it was a date, then the girl should simply have stood up, excused herself from her friends and led Mariga to another table for two to rave the night away in each other's company. Surely, even Mariga would have been sensible enough to pay the bill. I know I would. But if it was a groupie, then that's something else altogether. During my club-hopping days, I did a lot of the group-thing with male and female friends. There were always prior arrangements where one person would pay for the food, another the drinks, another the waiter's tip and another the car fuel. If the girl who called Mariga knew she had company, then she should have given him the heads up. As simple as a phone call saying, 'Hey Mariga, me and my girlfriends are catching a few drinks at Tropicana Club tonight. Wanna join in?' This way, Mr. Mariga would know what to expect. And if Mariga were daft enough to accept such an invitation, then the least he would do was throw a round of drinks of what everyone was already having when he entered. After this he would excuse himself and get the hell outta Dodge. But Mariga was not told what to expect, which makes me feel he was right in thinking that he was played for a sucker. Sounds typical of girls hata enzi zetu. Them days when if I invited a girl for some drinks at a nice caf she would come with her friend, for 'security purposes' but expect me to cater for their drinks or food. Honestly, what meaningful conversation could be made in light of this. And if I invited her to my house, she would come with her kid brother or sister whose presence was supposed to deter me from trying 'something funny'. Wanawake bwana, eh!
On Masculinity, Class and Honor
Now Ms Njoki, I know you are not a soccer fan, but what distinguishes the best footballers from the rest of the pack is a saying: Form is temporary, Class is permanent. Class and honor are the products of your value system. If your values are warped, then everything else about you will suck. Who is to say that this girl who invited Mariga wasn't stood up by the real honcho she had planned to meet. So to save face before her girlfriends, she calls mtoto Thoiti to save the day, or night. Whatever the case, these girls obviously didn't have a nickel to their skin to enjoy themselves with. At least, Mariga came with some money (even if it's KShs. 500), which he used to pay for his drinks. But what can be said of the so called bevy of beauties? Did they go for an evening out carrying handbags containing only some rolled Velvex tissue papers and an eye pencil complete with the 'Made in Shanghai China' label but expecting a treat? Oh blimey, there's not a single self-effacing lady on God's green earth who could something so downright shady and uncouth.
On 'City Girl' Column
Ever since Caroline Mutoko burst onto the scene, Kenyan women have been increasingly trying to claim their space in society. What with first woman elected president in Africa and first Kenyan woman Phd holder cum Nobel Prize Laureate for inspiration. It's all well and good. But ask yourself this of the ladies in Thoiti's episode. If they found themselves on the same table with Sirleaf and Wangari, would they be able to sustain even 10 minutes worth of conversation with the two luminaries? Or would they ask for freebies? Women of substance come oozing with machismo, not expensive taste.
So, Ms. Njoki, I know your column is supposed to provoke emotion rather than elicit deep thought. It must sell, and for that to happen you must write something that will make the world sit up and take notice. And if your words happen to border on brashness, bluntness or touch the wrong nerves, then all the better. I get it, I really do. As a writer, it's your USP. It's your right and it's landed you a weekly column in a leading nationwide newspaper. That's no mean feat to achieve, so kudos on that one. Respect vinoma!
Have you ever heard that hit song "No Scrub" by the all-girl group TLC? Well, if you haven't, the chorus goes something like;
"I don't want no scrub,
a scrub is a guy who can't get no love from me
hanging on the passenger side of his best friend's ride
trying to holla at me."
Now replace this guy on the passenger side with the said ladies in Mr. Mariga's saga. You'll see a bunch of leeches trying to piggyback ride on their best friend's date for free booze. Yet you and them have the nerve and verve to call yourselves expensive and high maintenance. Huh!
So, in closing Ms Njoki, I have only this to say to you and your band wagon of similarly-demented crafty young tarts, ikiwa huna hela za kujivinjari wala huna mume wa kukupeleka viwanja ukarushe roho, wewe kaa nyumbani usonge nywele matuta badala ya kutega uchumi kwa mume wa mwenzio huku ukijiita eti wewe ni ngoma ya juu. Koma na ukome ko!
Now how's that for bold, sassy and audacious? Otherwise, happy dating. Cheers!