DOWRY DAY IN EMBU

dowry D-day will finally be here. Culminating a series of family and friends meetings all for the sake of ensuring this day turns out to be a success. As I’ve said previously in this blog, as weddings are huge to ladies so are dowry occasions to men. A man who goes ahead to pay dowry, is not a small man. In actual sense, in his circle of peers, he stands to cement his territory for having ‘fully complied’ with traditions. It’s important to also appreciate; the occasion is financially draining at this day and age, coupled with a commercialised aspect in between. So any man who commits to go full throttle deserves a pat on the back.

You being Stevo’s (Stevo is the dude paying dowry) insider cum confidant, you’ll have been sneaked to this Whatsapp group of his inner circle which essentially deals with the nitty-gritty of the big day and ensuring all plans take shape. Meanwhile for Stevo, he’ll leave nothing to chance. From text messages to lengthy phone calls, a total of 200 friends, family members, colleagues, business partners, acquaintances and so forth will be invited to these endless evening meetings. Mind you only half the number or less will turn up. You’ll gather, deliberate and raise money. For young lads it’s never in vain. In fact, if you never show up in such meetings, nobody will show up when you’ll be in the same situation. Talk of Karma! But more importantly, it’s more fulfilling being part of your friend’s life achievements especially when it requires of you to support.

According to my kienyenji research, three out five ladies from Embu are paid for dowry. I’m even sure most of my readers have attended a dowry thing in Embu, meaning there is something special about Embu ladies. The jury is out. We leave it at that. So, on this day you’ll be embarking on a journey to Embu. This gets so exciting for guys living in Nairobi, for no good reason though. Putting a bunch of crazy friends in a convoy of cars, to transverse up country with all the fun that comes by, becomes too costly to miss. You’ll be cruising along Makuyu stretch, on this first Saturday of the month, nodding to some good hip hop music from the talented Khaligraph Jones. There will be heavy traffic but this will be overshadowed by smell of fresh air outside of Nairobi (pun intended). Observing humans all the way from Thika Road to Makutano Junction busy selling their wares across the highway, or far in their farms tilling, brings out tremendous patriotism within us.

You’ll make it to Embu town some minutes after noon and pull off at an agreed rendezvous. Here, you’ll finalise logistics as you sip quick tea and as you await souls from the rest of the country which then you’ll proceed as one longer convoy. It never gets this blissful. As all these unfold, you’ll quickly fall in love with Embu town. Apart from realising natives here speak with ‘heavy tongues’; you’ll savour the clean air and environment. The roads will be up to standard too with hardly any street family in the vicinity.  Before long you’ll again embark on the final part of the journey after conducting some short prayers, seeking blessings for what’s ahead.

Embu is beautiful gosh!!  From the very green forested farms, to the range of sleeping hills, to the smell of fertile and rich habitat. Rivers will be draining quietly to the lowlands as bulls pulling carts make headway to the highlands. And this will be such a big deal. Your bunch of friends will scramble to take pics of bulls pulling carts. It never happens in Nairobi you know! And funny still, not in their up country either. That work is done by donkeys. The day will be chilly but won’t erase the joy drawing from your faces. The atmosphere will be akin to Limuru Road heading to Gigiri. Birds will be chirping in this fresh ambiance with beautiful roads that meander through the calm and serene locations.

After one hour or so drive, cars ahead will start hooting noisily with their hazard lights all out screaming, “The visitors have finally arrived”. Why do Kenyans do this! hehe. Waking an entire village from car hooting. Again you’ll realise Embu people don’t fence their homesteads. At least for many. After further prodding, you’ll be reminded there is a relatively low criminal rate in Embu. In other words, Embu, Meru and Kirinyaga people have a history of strong belief in traditions of not trespassing nor pilfering. You don’t just go stealing, you’ll be made to regret.

Anyway, the turn up will be impressive going by the number of excited assemblage and variety of cars parked outside this homestead. And that’s how you judge a man. By how many friends and family members he commands….. Few minutes after, women will lead the pack in traditional songs suggesting the visitors have arrived while making their way to the gate, carrying baskets of shopping, mainly food stuff. In Africa you never visit empty handed. (This shopping is shared among the welcoming women, it’s not part of the dowry price.)

The guests will be ushered to the preserved tents and once settled will be invited to queue for buffet to calm their murmuring stomachs. Appreciate that the man paying dowry entirely foots the food budget of the day. Speaking of food, it’ll be a combination of traditional foods like Mukimo (An Agikuyu traditional meal), Nyama choma, fries, pilau, plain rice, black beans aka njahe, peas, fruits and veges. There will be sodas and mineral water too in plenty. This will be followed by family preambles conducted by this fairly young MC with a heavy accent too.

Interestingly, as this happens Stevo will be directed to a certain room to identify his wife from a group of 15 ladies divided into three groups and tied with lessos from head to toe. If he makes a mistake of identifying wrongly, he’s penalised a colossal amount. Luckily for him, he manages to identify her from her shapely hips and the fact that he had entered into a deal with her to pose in a certain way, makes things easier for him. (This is a top secret amounting to corrupting the system and punishable if discovered.)

The day becomes more eventful when Stevo and the wife change to traditional attires and are taken through more activities. The highlight turns out to be when Stevo is served porridge from a calabash but not before a series of other theatrics according to Agikuyu traditions. (The husband doesn’t just accept porridge. The wife must sooth him by polishing his shoes, combing his hair, cutting his nails etc..).Later all the guests are served this nutritious porridge as close family members from both parties make way to a highly guarded room for dowry negotiations.

This will take an hour or two before the white smoke is seen coming out of the hut, signifying a deal has been arrived. Part of the negotiations will involve Stevo’s side officially delivering items demanded by Wazees from the other end. This include five FAT goats, ten crates of soda, five crates of beer, a 90 kilogram bag of sugar, a 20 litre bucket of fresh honey, two pairs of bed sheets, a blanket for Stevo’s father in law and the icing on the cake; hefty loads of money. Meanwhile for the guests, it’ll be time to catch up, exchange pleasantries, network and move around while taking dozens of pics from the picturesque view to flood the IG later amid some good entertainment and more drinks. (Again it’s important to appreciate no matter how long the negotiations take place, the visitors aren’t supposed to spend the night in their laws homes.) The hallmark of the negotiations will result from donation of one crate of beer to the visitors as a sign of appreciation.

By now, it’ll be minutes to 7pm when you’ll power your engines back to Nairobi for the After Party where you’ll get down all night celebrating a life’s achievement.

THE CORNERED MALE SPECIES

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Do they say the fish rots from the head? Come to think of it and while at it, ask yourself how you’d describe the chairman of Maendeleo ya Wanaume and these three adjectives would surface and do justice; a tired, laid back and comic guy. Who even appointed him if he wasn’t elected? And speaking of elections, how didn’t I not have a heads up! For men to be taken seriously in this country, we need a man worth his salt at the helm. An eloquent kind of guy, with stamina to steer an array of men battling with pot-bellies and receding hairlines. Type of a man who can resuscitate our emaciated reputation and take a bullet for the millions of us who grow beards. He should be that guy who can nurture a sense of belonging in the Man’s Kingdom by challenging us to provide leadership in our families.

But more fundamentally, what is ailing the Y chromosome? Has man been overrated all this time round only to lose his oomph in the 21st century? He has weathered and left bare and naked over time. Naked in the annoying truth of high appetite for lust and alcohol. He’s been reduced to a ‘thing’ that’s wading in moral decadence. He is now disintegrating in big and small pieces at the very feet of a bewildered society. What happened to the traditional male with all his aggression and protective syndrome? It’s an open secret that members of the male species have been cornered. We’re embarrassing ourselves in the open if not tearing up the little credibility we brag of.

10 years from now, I can only hope I won’t be caught up in the cobwebs of being chauffeured in an intimidating car to the G.P.O area, to fish out hot lasses at the bus station hanging on their weekend bags and glued to their phones. God should also forbid the mere thought of flying my P.A to Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club somewhere in Nanyuki for a weekend of escapades as my lonely wife pulls duvet in our elegant mansion agonising over my behavior. The reality is, having a 20 something years old sidekick as a married man, is very fashionable nowadays.

Sampling the recent incidents that have been unfolding right in front of my TV screen only leave my conscious in a state of jeopardy. I feel ashamed even while all alone in my house. You can imagine if I had a 3 year old inquisitive son, propping those queer questions right in my face. Like, “Dad, who is Mugo wa Wairimu? What did he do?” How I’m I supposed to respond to such a question? Speaking of Mugo, is he aware that by the time a woman walks to a gynecologist, she is already unwell? Raping her while in a sedated state is too inhumane in my opinion. It shames me as man. It puts burdens to hundreds of families who ever took their family members to that clinic all because of a man who can’t contain his libido.

What of when your uncle appears on TV heavily drunk, with a disillusioned face, overgrown beards and smelling like a corpse. How does my son put up with such a close relative? I need to have an idea of how Kenyan fathers survive in their houses at 9pm while watching despicable stories unravel on the screens. Men should think twice before indulging in some of these things. We don’t live in a vacuum. We have people who look up to us. Who expect mentorship and inspiration from us. If all that is in our mind is a comprised conscience choked with evil, how will we manage to guide a whole generation pregnant with expectations and hopes?

I was taken aback few weeks ago and even shared my anger on my Facebook page andrewismme.com of this chap who found out that his wife was cheating on him. So he ambushed her and beat her mercilessly. What ignited my anger was how bystanders mostly men, gnawed their teeth in unfounded excitement while they recorded the ordeal. That was so shallow and annoying. How do you watch a woman being mishandled and all you do is display your unashamed joy? The last time I checked, men were called to be protective beings. This chap should have simply separated with the wife or report her to Njuri Ncheke.

Sadly, men of the cloth whom ideally should be busy instilling values in us are in fact outdoing each in embracing the vices. Just the other day while flip flopping TV channels I came across a story of a pastor who was wedding without having consulted his 1st wife. Such like stories have been retold to the umpteenth time. Granted that this way of life persists for some years to come; will we ever have a society? The male species has failed miserably in upholding the value system of a society. From the Ng’ang’as of this world to matatu conductors who purport to be our moral police thereby stripping women ‘badly dressed’, we have sunken and buried the male species in deep shit.

Having said that, what’s a better place to reflect, seek healing and guidance than through the bible. Ephesians 2:1-5 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved.

I’m calling on the male species family for whom I am a member, to rise to the occasion and redeem our image. For so long we’ve steered the society in the wrong direction. It’s important to appreciate men have been bestowed with heavy responsibilities and it’s unfortunate when the Animal Kingdom behaves better than many of us.

WHAT LIFE MEANS FOR A BACHELOR

Depressed-Man-The-TrentYou are 27. Sitting pretty on a six figure salary bracket. Your colleagues have been making these jokes of how your weight gain has been directly correlated to your steady rise on the promotional ladder. Sounds true. On the side, you are servicing a car loan, doing your Masters and a proud owner of several parcels of land. You seem to be doing okay as far as career and financial muscles is concerned. You feel satisfied to have achieved quite a number of your goals, few years shy of hitting the psychological age. 30.

What’s all the fuss about hitting 30? Well, life before and after 30 is as different as day and night. Hitting 30 without a family to show, or diapers to change (for your son or daughter) or better still, Instagram pics of you lulling your 3 months old, Baby Newton to sleep, is overwhelmingly defeating.  At 30, your passi insists you must join church’s Men Association group. It’s also at 30 that you’ll succumb to your brother in law’s demands of dragging you to this chama he belongs to, that trains men who’ve come of age, cultural traditions and their role in family. This is huge and somehow intimidating because you’ll happen to mingle and make small talks with men the age of your dad as you prepare some nyama choma in this picturesque getaway. You’ll also be expected to tell them what you’ve achieved and how your vision looks like. In other words, you’ll be groomed from a boy to a man.

Enough of 30. Your family back home is anxious, and dealing with the elephant in the room; waiting for this day that you’ll call them on a Sunday afternoon, booking a day on their calendar when you’ll finally and officially bring a wife home. On the side you are also grappling with business partners on your side hustle who unrelentingly have not given you any peace of mind, all in the name of showing care for a brother. You recall this day, one of them drew for you a sketch of how badly you are faring. That you should have married at 25 (two years ago) so by the time you hit 45, your kids will be in college. Otherwise as it looks now, at the age of 50, you’ll still be attending Parent’s Day meetings somewhere in Nyeri County because you believe schools in that part of the country perform very well in national examinations.

But that’s easier said than done. I mean, from your toes to your receding hairline, to every part of your body is in unison that you should be married by now. That’s not in contention. But the big question is, who is there to be married? Is it these contemporary ladies whom when you invite one for a dinner date, comes with half a dozen of her ‘girls’ pulling unashamed ear to ear smiles. A very high percentage of ladies view and judge men with financial lenses. Ladies listen; I once schooled with this guy who didn’t even complete college for lack of school fees. He was a great friend of mine and still is. In fact we’ve shared the same circle of friends for the last 7 years. We didn’t drop him because of his financial woos then. Not that we were any rich. It’s through God’s grace that we survived. To cut a long story short, this dude married when still trying to make ends meet. God honoured his resilience and hard work. These days, he uploads pics on Facebook of his wife and him crisscrossing the country for holidays. Flying his family for 5 days at the Coast is no big deal to him!

But how many bachelors will ever be lucky as this dude? All we have are ladies living a larger than life lifestyle. Who can’t do laundry because of their manicured nails and instead, pay someone to do so as they go doing ‘facials’. The same ladies with an alcohol tolerance thrice more enduring than yours. Who show off these phones the same price to a plot of land somewhere in Nyahururu. They also suffer from impatience and are addicted to instant ‘success’ and its glorification. Bachelors are going through tougher times than their dads or grandfathers ever did. The game has turned out to be too complex, riskier and expensive over the years. The only ladies meeting your criteria are in fact inviting you to their wedding committees if it’s not the actual weddings or baby shower visits!

Back to the story, you once happened to take this hot intern for a coffee date only to regret the very thought of it. Once settled, she asked this waiter with a glowing skin and colgate teeth peeping from her suggestive smile and of eyes that literally weakened every joint of your body, if there was anything on offer apart from beverages. She ordered for red wine. You were taken aback. She tapped your arm and was like, “bring him a cold Tusker please”. You pretended to be this open minded fellow and went on to spend almost 4k on a Monday night obviously not budgeted for. By 12am a visibly drunk intern dashed to the washroom and an opportune moment presented itself. Your endearing waiter was standing strategically behind you. You’d smell her scent and manage to see her from the corner of your cornea. You reached to your wallet and chomwad a business card and placed it in her hands accompanied with a small tip. She gave you a face that read, I’ll be waiting for your call. The next day, your intern dropped by your office to thank you for the epic treat. She sat on your table with all her endowments, her cleavage half out, acres of thighs to graze and a long weave overshadowing her back. If only she knew how much it costed for that random date. Haha. Since she proved too expensive to maintain, the alleged affair died as fast as it had sprouted.

Interestingly, you have this relatively young, married friend who seems to have all the qualities of your imaginary wife. In fact on the few times, she has invited you for coffee, she insists on paying the bill. (When married women, be they classmates or friends invite you for coffee, it has to be strictly coffee.) She even lends you money within a short notice, when in a fix. She complements your dressing and actually goes ahead to ask where you bought that watch that underlines your tastes. To make matters worse, she throws subtle advances at you leaving you more confused. You certainly don’t want to ruin somebody’s marriage for the very simple reason of never wanting to imagine your wife ever contemplating cheating on you. (Especially with an unmarried chap).

Every year the HR pops to your office to update your medical insurance details and goes like;”Any dependant or wife so far?” And you respond with a NO that ends up to invite a loud, awkward silence between you two as she finds her way out.

The only thing bachelors are in need of is family love and communal prayers akin to my shosh’s ‘deep prayers’ at 3am for them to survive through this jungle of temptation, deception and remorse.

Check out my Facebook Page; andrewismme.com for regular, half serious stuff that will help you unwind and recover from a day’s harsh torrents.

STIGMA OF A SINGLE MOTHER

Mother With Children In Park She is a mother of two. Both from different fathers. A charming, shy boy with a bubbling, full of life, younger sister. For the boy, his dad passed on while he was 6 months in his mother’s womb. Very sad. He died of a short illness. It was very devastating for the mum. Attending the burial of a man she had not even introduced to her family, while pregnant. You may assume she was green and naive. She jumped into this relationship at 23. Three months later, she was pregnant. Before she even figured out what was going on, the guy was no more. Her life was doomed and shattered. Life came to a grand halt.

Her other challenge was to deal with her family which watched the unfoldings from a distance without raising eyebrows. (Be grateful for family. They mould you again, out of your broken pieces). She was lucky that her mum chose to embrace her. Very uncharacteristic of her. No interrogations nor whims of anger but acceptance of the reality. But she wouldn’t escape the typical traders of rumours, mummering from one corner of the village to the other searching for the highest bidder. She was baptised with fire, in this world of Single Mothers.

She hated life and her very existence. She felt wasted by the world and betrayed by God. She had nowhere to hide from the hungry gossip fodders. From the scornful eyes to the slandering tongues. Not even church would be left behind in unleashing ‘terror’. It’s gave her a lukewarm welcome. Friends camouflaged unusually fast, while foes resuscitated from nowhere. They came hard and eager to tear her flesh apart.

Before long, she gave life, to a crying, handsome angel. A boy who fought baggage and naysayers in equal measure. He has grown in might and knowledge every time the sun rises and sets. He is an artistic boy who loves drawing anything locomotive. He has special place for ‘objects’ that fly. Airplanes make him develop goosebumps. He treats them with awe. They trigger part of his brain that ends up to inspire him more. He is very creative with his hands. He makes technical ‘things’ so effortlessly. His mum peeps him across the window as he fondly plays football only to be overwhelmed by joy.

Then came his sister, few years down the line. A whole different scenario. All along her mum endeavored to be a staunch Christian. And in her quest for a bible-based-church, and a husband so to speak, she unfortunately stumbled on one of these rogue men who hide under the word of God, donning white, oversize suits without blemish, all along fishing and feeding His flock. You know of this so called ‘Pastors/Apostles/Bishops’ who lure young, naive girls to satisfy their dangling libido. She fell victim.

No sooner had this chap realised he had impregnated her than he took to his heels. It’s something he has done over and over again. You can’t beat him in this game. She again lost gravity of life and came down crumbling within no time. Back to square one. Back to awaken gossip fodders, traders of rumours and souls thirsty for flesh blood. Her family again embarked on making her whole again, out of her broken pieces.

Reality dawned when she was fired from her workplace when navigating through this mess. Family came in handy. She gave life to the most adorable girl. An incredible personality, who excelled in school and church. She turned to be bright than her age. Always challenging grown-ups through her wits and wisdom. Her gifts are in singing and unusual confidence. The future holds so much for her. Every new day, she becomes bolder and conspicuous. These two kids have mitigated the stigma their mum battles with. They brought blessings to a seemingly, dull home.

Now, changing lanes and zooming to you who belong to this group that reigns havoc to Single Mothers. You that change relationships like bracelets. You that have aborted a million and one times. You who go for morning-afters three times a week. You that run from one STI to the other, impregnating ladies from all walks of life. And while in the process talking ill of Single Mothers. Karma is a bitch!

This single mum has since forgiven this confused, insecure ‘pastor’ out to maim a generation. From the hit and run treacherous men to awesome chaps plucked off by death, all they leave behind are the unsung heroines. If you didn’t know, Single Mothers are the ultimate measure of a strong woman. Big up to them! I salute you phenomenal gems.

Check out my Facebook Page; andrewismme.com for regular, half serious stuff that will help you unwind and recover from a day’s harsh torrents.