WHICH WAY OUT: FEW OR MORE KIDS

Image result for A photo of a beautiful african family

Early April this year, my family and I embarked on a trip to visit my Shosh, up in the hills of Othaya. A green desert of tea farms, and dwindling coffee plantation, up and down we were, taking sharp corners underneath unbothered deadly rivers making their way to distant lands. Othaya, a very fresh environment courtesy of the unrivalled abundance of rare indigenous trees, tall and gigantic, placed on top of hills and down south along the slopes, bending and singing smoothly – what a purified air! And this journey is never enough without passing by Tums. Well Tums is a small getaway, sandwiched by weather roads, red in colour and inside a sleepy village called Giakaja. Here, the best of kuku and mbuzi choma invites you from the parking bay, and soon you spot the busiest of waiters speeding like rally cars, balancing their trays with the dozens of orders playing in their heads. Tums being a gazebo-like layout, the laughters from happy people enjoying every bite of the meat and ambience waft easily all across. Normally, Nairobians who live for discovering hide outs, will be found here on a Saturday afternoon, flanked by their glossy wives, and their beguiling looking, smooth skinned girlfriends with sweeping elegant weaves, and their boys in expensive pants while some will still insist on puttting on coloured shorts in the year of our lord 2017. Usually, their tables will be dotted with Tuskers and silver-like melting meat. They will smoke arrogantly, speak louder, laugh more and ask for more beer and choma.

Now, we make our way to Shosh’s place, eat, drink, chat and then by coincidence happen to meet a number of my cousins who have also checked in for other engagements here. So, as the evening gets weary, one cousin rises to give vote of thanks but sneaks in an interesting conversation. That as cousins, they are considering awarding whichever family that will reach the target of having at least five kids. Currently the top contenders which is a tie of a few, has four kids each. Actually they are three families out of thirty something. SADLY, SHOSHO PASSED ON RECENTLY AND IN FACT LAID HER TO REST ON 16TH JUNE 2017. Rest in eternal peace dear pillar of my heritage.

Moving on…Our generation is breeding far fewer kids. Two utmost. Three if one is damn rich. Some one. Well the commonest reason being the “harsh economic times”. Quite logical. I mean how and why should one agonise over raising more kids when Unga is neither affordable nor available. When you can’t place food on the table, why more? Dear Andreaders, can our economy encourage contemporary parents to get more or few?

Well, I sampled a few of my friends asking them: Given a choice considering the status of our economy, would you go few or more kids? Kindly give reasons. Only one out of twelve respondents was for four to five kids regardless of the economic status. Three respondents were for very few kids. The rest had no clear answers. Simply put, they were nor here nor there. Just a bit confused. Sometimes back, my siblings and I visited mum by surprise. She was extremely happy and sensational. One thing I fondly remember her saying was; “Assuming I had one or two kids, would I be this happy?” You can imagine a family of slightly many siblings , armed with their spouses and curious teenage-like kids, and few more delicate and restless ones less than a year old, who can cry all night. We were scattered in one house, unbowed by the crying ones annoyed by the new environment they were not used to and the laughters and dealing with not-so-familiar faces plus the undoing of low temperatures of Nyandarua. Kids can be sensitive? My mum now savouring the beauty of watching her grandchildren whirl up and down while the shy ones sat attentively as they gazed at the hearty conversations. The shy ones in this instance had to be the teenagers getting acquainted to adolescence stage of life.

While working on this article, I stumbled on a research report named, Kenya: The Demographic of a Country in Turmoil which gives a chronology of Kenya’s population. Digging in, between 1970s and 1980s Kenya had one of the fastest population growth rates in the world. It experienced an economy slow down thereafter, which prompted the government to advocate for family planning to lower fertility rates. In 1960’s an average family would have 8 – 10 kids. As of 1990’s, that dropped to about five kids. With the AIDS epidemic which eroded health and mortality progress, Kenya has had to review life expectancy from an average of 60 years in 1980s to 53 in 2007.

But while the poor are having more kids, the middle class are siring few! Seemingly, the former are putting up with a fight of survival while the latter are toying with pro-westernized ideologies where getting more kids is no longer fashionable and worse still – very demanding and expensive, so to speak. But demographic pundits have it; that with an effective government and stable economic environment, population increase leads to steady economic growth.

The worry is, many alike, in our classes of life are bringing up fewer and lonelier families. Where, a couple gets two kids, educates them and by the time these children join University at about 19 years, the parents being anywhere from 45 – 51 years, are left to live alone while the kids run to Nairobi. These are the same kids who never get married nor visit home. So the closest these parents get to meet their grandchildren, unfortunately, will be in their sorry state – feeble and draining their family savings to medical bills besides dealing with two kids who haven’t stabilized in life. Forgive me for entertaining the thought that, there is fun in more numbers.

Thinking rationally, clear advantages of having relatively more kids include; Family projects become easier and attractable to finance based on the numbers, the few less-fortunate in life get pulled up by the rest of the siblings, the diversity of careers and lines of incomes brought about by different interests for each sibling increases chances of survival, such a family has a bulk of knowledge and forum to exchange ideas and increase business networks. Moreover, economies of scale have never been more plausible than in families – Utility bills are far cheaper in a house of more, than of few. Clothes and toys can be passed on to the younger ones. Parents who are pro-more can be in a position to enjoy freedom earlier since the teenage kids can be left to guard the little ones as they attend a dinner date, or rush for urgent issues out of the house, and can be caught up in traffic without worry of house girl drama.

Medical researchers have disclosed that growing up with a brother or sister can reduce food allergies, multiple sclerosis and some cancers. Obesity and depression is potentially reduced by exposure to more siblings. Parents with one or two kids, spend lots of money in Day-cares while the pro-more can have that aspect taken care of easily. Research have shown that ‘siblinged’ children will have stronger soft skills and keener emotional intelligence than single children. In most cases, siblings make up the best of friends. Mistakes and confessions are first told to close siblings meaning a good support system can be nurtured within siblings. Further, one or two kids can choke from over attention and pressure. Relatively more kids dilute the attention awarded to each kid hence aiding in making a child mature quicker.

Few or more, the jury is out.

 

WE, THE SOCIETY OF ‘APPROVALS’

The rich and the poor truly are from different realms: one has adapted to become an expert in material forfeit; the other has forfeited all they are to material, and thus is enslaved, by it.” – Justin K. McFarlane Beau.

We are the bubble that will burst soon from material enslaving and obsession with show offs. We perceive ourselves rich while in reality, we are heavily indebted humans. Not only have we shattered what is considered good but also auctioned the patience and virtual of becoming successful gradually. We are using shortcuts and loans to smell successful. We are borrowing way too much to look trendy and urbanite, naively passing the buck to our sons and daughters and their offspring. We are the people that believe in only living once by unfortunately have our priorities misplaced and swapped with the expectations of our peers. We live for the expectations of our families, family friends and for the status. We choose what to buy (not invest) to feed the imagination we have of what others expect of us. In other words; we have no time to hold candid and honest discussions with ourselves. We live for others. We live for approvals. Sadly!

You see, many of us have been lying to ourselves that we are wealthy and successful going by the lifestyle we brag of. But how are you rich, if your liabilities exceed what is rightfully yours? And what’s yours shouldn’t be necessarily what you inherited from your family. By the way, there is nothing wrong with taking bank loans, but there is something very wrong when that money is used for things which won’t matter two years from now. The thing is, we are borrowing not to invest but to finance our lifestyles. Since nobody will notice your sagging indebtedness apart from perhaps your bank, you will sink in deep s*** towing this demeanor like you own half the world and pulling no stops in social media streets selling your imaginary smooth life for all to envy. For how long? Remember, perceived friends can be a pain in the a** especially when you go broke or rather; when they stumble on the truth.

You and I should refuse to be put under any pressure by family and friends. We should vow not to care whether they approve us or not. It won’t matter because, what they seem to do is show no respect to our priorities, anyway! Look at it this way; do you go out every Friday because you have the urge to do so or to making us aware of your high end friends and fancy places where your boys and yourself, go to unwind. Do you get worried when your kids school in schools that do not meet the expectations of your friends or your occupational status? Or is it about the complexion of the girl you date? Or the engine cc of the car that you drive? Or the estate you dwell in? Or your profession? Or where you go for salon? Or is it about your not so 1 billion worth church which haven’t qualified to have church mums and dads? Dear reader; please cut the slack and start living. Drop the baggage and the blurring euphoria. Learn to choose friends, breathe life to your goals and passions, follow the basics in life and develop a relationship with money.

Speaking of money;

Many of us have been caught in the neck of woods of drowning in debt and the addiction of credit cards purely for approval. Come to think of it this way; why would one spend a staggering sh.5 million to hold a wedding that does not last a year? Practically, it means this couple rushed out, assumed much and got deluded by societal approvals. To others it’s all about the looks and the pocket size. Why? Because your family and friends put that as a top priority! Since the poor you would never contemplate shaming them, you marry looks and a bank account only to realise later your dissimilarities and approach of life are too overwhelming. Funny enough, you don’t quit but soldier own to pay the price of approval. And when push comes to shove, your hands and legs get chopped off!

There is a trap in the name of a bubble that we all fighting to be associated with. The middle class syndrome. We are grappling with all in our possessions, creating innuendos and perceptions in the streets of social media that we duly belong to this class of society. We are using financial shortcuts and bribing ourselves to this envied life. From our pricey phones to fancy apartments to where we go for shopping – we are borrowing to enjoy this life. But what’s in it. Only one thing stands out; The feel good effect. I like to call it, The Nairobi effect. By the way, to you Nairobians that seem not to speak the local dialect even when you visit up country; we are aware of which side of Nairobi you reside in. With all fairness, your up country is cleaner than where you live, so cut the slack. The tendency to pretend your heritage and background is not from the village is not only farfetched but pure disgust.

Dear imaginary middle class, I know you believe in faking it till you make it. While at it, don’t make it up with mortgages that seem to trounce your very existence. Please don’t fake it if you still owe HELB some money. Cut the slack too if you have been blacklisted by Mshwari and or have defaulted numerous bank loans. Spare us if you reside in a grabbed piece of land that houses your bungalow, financed by embezzled funds. The middle class bubble is very seductive but when a time comes for hard facts to spill; it will expose your annoying under belly. Your offspring will have it tough footing your lifestyle baggage that did little to make the life any better. Do you wish to die of curses or of Approvals? What’s in your bucket list? What’s keeps you awake you in the night? Is it your dreams or the expectations of others? Do you ever think of yourself or all you do is feed other people’s expectations?

Do your math!!

FEMALE BARTENDERS

bar attendants3The holidays might be done and dusted but you are still stuck in the neck of woods taking stock of a season that literally milked you dry. At least from 21st December, it was a rolling stone; you on a drinking spree from lazy afternoons to cock-crow hours, the next morning. The only songs playing in your ride’s stereo the next morning were like;

Nigga we made it, hey
We made it
Nigga we made it, hey
Damn, we made it
Nigga we made it, hey
We made it, aye
Nigga we made it, hey
We made it.

In actual sense, you woke up at 9 am in the many mornings having made it to the parking yard and falling asleep right in the car. How you drove yourself home and survived the alcoblow guyz is a whole rocket science puzzle your mind is still trying to add up. That was you for an entire fortnight. Your woman threw tantrums from here to Bethlehem and back. The rest of the family were equally unlucky to have a piece of you. You made technical appearances for the family-get-togethers and drove off as soon as dusk settled in.

So who brain washed your Finance Manager brains or rather hired you in entirety? Well, the underestimated world of female bartenders raided your Kingdom and this is what you wrote home about;

Ready! Let’s go!!

Social drinkers are patrons mostly middle class men and women who imbibe not necessarily because they have an urge within them to do so but do it anyway, to enjoy the great feeling that comes with an awesome company complemented by an epic location. They are choosy urbanite generation, who are suckers for the fine things their pockets (read bank loans) can afford. Unlike alcoholics, they meet in trendy ‘locals’ to catch up, network and to have a good time. In the process they make new friends or strike new deals. All under the watchful eyes of women who serve them endless drinks all night long. These women in many a time will have dressed seductively and will have bodies worth the drooling. The problem with serving beer to a man for 6 solid hours definitely triggers chemistry if it’s not more. Now, if this happens 3 times a week, that is like 12 times in a month or 14 days during December holidays, there will be more than meets the eye. Ladies, if your man is a heavy drinker, there is something to worry about. There is even more to worry if he visits this particular entertainment joint come rain or sunshine. Nowadays patrons have the right to demand to be served by specific bartenders. The customer is always right and should have his/her way, you know!

Of course not all female bartenders have any ‘ill motives’. We have professional ones who work diligently to make a living and in the process manage to ignore any advancement from whatever quarters be it from the Management or the lusty patrons. That does not include some that hover around your table from 6pm to 5:05 am, always stealing glances at you. Some will rub their all-popping-chests around your back pretending to be serving from your backs. Others will grab the next available seat around you and purport to be taking a short ‘commercial break’ as they dangle their bottle openers towards your arm. Some will cling on your friend’s lap (A Mr.Njoroge – IT geek) and afford to show no qualms. Why this particular bartender will be so cosy in that position will be out of manipulating Njoroge’s courteous demeanor.  Isn’t that s***** harassment?

I came up with five major categories of female bartenders that will serve as a heads -up or a way of discerning the wheat from the chaff, the next time your beer and you are robbed the much acclaimed bliss by these class of humans;

Single Mothers

Actually you will never notice they are already young mothers until they throw it when you least expect. This always has a way of leaving a dull taste in your beer. Usually, they depict maturity in their conversations and a lot of soberness in life matters. They are mostly fit, intelligent, beautiful and armed with decades-old skills that bring out the soft and vulnerable side of you. They cut into size hot-tempered men including them that pull emotionless attitudes out there. They never speak loudly or laugh anyhow. They grin and chuckle when it’s necessary and in a decent way. The danger comes from the fact that they are always in the hunt for soul mates. Many men fall in this shit as they struggle to balance a no strings attached sort of friendship and being trapped in the webs of ‘love’.

Moody & Snitchy

Normally dated by Senior Supervisors/Managers or real ‘sponsors’. They Waiguru and topple anybody who dares to step on their toes. They are untouchables, authoritative and own millions of insecurities in their bank of life. Being moody is part of their norm and can easily get their colleagues fired. If they decide to dislike you as a patron, your peace in that entertainment joint will forever be wanting.

Humble & ‘Harmless’ 

These are college drop-outs or 20 year old lasses who didn’t make to college due to financial woes. Normally, they are nonchalant earthlings trying to make ends meet the hard way out of desperate situations. How they find themselves working in a bar is a whole 10 episode Devious Maid-like series that will leave you teary and emotional. Their stories are boggling, making you appreciate how God has been generous to you. Working in a bar is a very short term thing for them.

Spoilt Ratchets

Talk of bad girls of this game. Bold and brave in every word, deed and dressing. They are the caliber that finds joy in breaking rules. Basically, they stand out for all the wrong reasons. They wear shorter skirts than their colleagues, sport heavily padded bras that unleash kilos of drooping cleavage and pull all sort of weird hairstyles from crazy mo-hawks to side shaves that steal all the attention and make statement in the process.

Husband Snatchers

They find thrill in poaching married men and ‘domesticating’ them as long as they would wish. To them it’s all about fulfilling one’s fantasy. From houses fully furnished effortlessly to businesses set up by these cornered men, theirs is to identify, chase and cage these vulnerable humans. To them, there is never a hurry to get married when they are already living larger than life lifestyles without breaking a sweat. They live a connived life shadowed with a guiltless comportment.

 

Now you know……!

Have a sober January.

Ta vare! (Take care in Norwegian).