Thursday, March 4, 2010



March 4 2010

It is a lie. Or maybe I am living in denial. But just because I have refused to accept that the one man I consider as Kenya’s Only musician knocked up a certain Nairobi Gal who probably just wanted to ride her Baisikeli around him while asking him to besamo mucho, does not mean that I have no regard for fidelity — if that is the opposite of infidelity — or marriage.

That is the unpopular opinion of my colleagues, but I have a lot of faith in marriage; after all, my father was happily married. Not to one, but to two wives and my grandfather had twenty times as many as my father.

Even as I believe in marriage, and fidelity, I have to admit that I always have this sneaky feeling that married men have numerous problems and are forced to apply martial arts in search of marital bliss.

Often, I taunt them over their marital problems and occasionally suggest that they should change their partners instead of their ways. I also say they have no taste for good food and never experience molecular gastronomy because they eat what they are given, not what they want. That is mean.

Suffer heartache

Anyway, many years ago, while I was still at the features desk from where we used to write well-researched, reader-ready series of stories that could run for three or four days — how I miss those days — I received a call from the reception and I was told there was a reader with an issue he wanted Kenyan men to know about so none of them suffers heartache like he was.

In those days, journalists were an unlovable, but proud tribe with sharp instincts and newsrooms had not been invaded by celebs and their fans. Journalism also, as we know, or knew it, had not been hijacked by political and entertainment analysts — whoever those are.

After I put the phone down, I walked with a swagger to the reception area and I immediately picked out the man who wanted to see me. He looked harangued, henpecked and limp, like a rose flower three days after Valentine’s Day.

I walked over to him, and before he could say a word, I confidently — and arrogantly — asked him if bibi amekimbia. He got more confused than he already was because I was right.

He then started narrating his sorry tale of romance, finance, sex, deception and all those things that help turn marital in to martial.

He owned a taxi and operated from Githurai, where they also lived, he said. His wife used to work only night shifts in some hotel/restaurant around Parklands, where she had once taken him and their four children for lunch, and the workers there knew her by all her names. This was proof that she worked there.

One morning, after a lean night when he did not ferry any fare, he went to his wife’s purse to look for money for fuel, and found some judicial document from the City Court.

It bore his wife’s name and she had been fined for loitering or that sort of an offence. He did not ask her about it.

Suspecting his wife

Another time when he was looking for money, he found packets of condoms, those latex sheaths which were made popular by the French company, Durex.
This time he asked, and the explanation did not satisfy him, so he decided to use a friend’s car for a stake out on Koinange Street, which he had been told was chock-a-block with commercial sex workers.

By the standards of a man looking for bad sex, he was lucky, since it did not take long before a horde of skimpily-dressed women ran towards his car while making cat calls.

But as a married man who was suspecting his wife of infidelity, he was very unlucky since that horde was led by his wife, who took to her heels upon recognising him.

She reappeared home after one week and told him she was not there for sex, but just to steal from men.

I remembered this story three weeks ago when I went for some sex talk during the launch of a book published by the Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health, which works to explore and enhance the positive links between culture and health.

During our discussion, one of the ladies asked why men pick up prostitutes along Koinange Street. Tough question, I said, because there is much more to Koinange Street than the skimpily-dressed women, who are not prostitutes but thieves who spoil the already bad name of prostitutes and prostitution by using dubious means to get money from either sober, drunk or drugged men.

Prostitutes or prostitution, as it is supposed to be, has to do with engaging in sexual intercourse or such like acts and getting money in return.

If we stick to that rule of the thumb, or any lower part of the anatomy, the ill-mannered semi-nude women who run after male motorists and hurl insults at their female companions along Koinange and other Nairobi streets are not genuine and are in essence criminals who should be charged with getting money through pretences.

Women’s rights activists have been shouting themselves hoarse that prostitution should be legalised because women are forced into prostitution by our largely patriarchal society and norms that deny them opportunities for growth.

For the able-bodied women along Koinange and other Nairobi streets, this is hardly true.

Any person who can withstand the ravages of Nairobi weather night after night without warm clothing is healthy enough to engage in legal income-generating activity and has no reason to hide under the society’s anti-women policies.

Anyone with the mental capacity to drug people, pick their pockets, promise them sex in return for money and then spend the whole night drinking alcohol she has not bought knows her figures, and if prostitution and by reference such actions are legalised or decriminalised, then robbers and rapists have a strong defence: The (matriarchal) society has denied them a chance to earn a living and to have (consensual) sex — which is a basic human right — and their forceful ways are justified.

Rape, marital or otherwise, and by either gender is wrong and is never a manifestation of strength, but of weakness.

Anyone who cannot talk his/her way in to (safe) consensual sex and has to violate another, lacks the mental, physical and physiological ability and the right to have sex — or even to live.

Even though all are about sex, or lack of it, equating rape with prostitution may be a little off tangent, but a person with the wherewithal to use sex as a cover for committing crimes, sometimes with fatal results, is just as guilty and deserves no leniency, only justice — which exists only as a word in the National Anthem.