By Ted Malanda
Give a young man money and his wallet starts emitting sirens. He can never stay still. It’s like wasps are in his pants.
If he doesn’t own a car, he will hire one. If he doesn’t rent a car, he will hop onto a bus. He has this insane itch to go far away from home — and spend it.
His behaviour changes. A fellow who was shy suddenly becomes belligerent and arrogant. That is when you start hearing things like, “I can beat you up and pay you...” or “Do you know who I am?” even when the fellow is three feet tall.
Somehow, money — especially when it is suddenly acquired — goes hand in hand with alcohol, food and sex. A man who comes into money would never be caught dead eating vegetables. It is always beef, in a ruinous reincarnation of the jungle where the meanest guys eat meat and the losers eat grass.
With tummies satiated, the boozing starts. Young men have been known to booze nonstop for 72 hours, all ringed around the big spender, the alpha male. As you read this, there is a young man somewhere telling his mates, “I have Sh150,000 and we are not living this bar until that money is finished.”
Oddly, the combination of money and alcohol always fires the loins. That is why in most pubs, the women of the night sit and watch, knowing that in three hours, they will, pardon the pun, be firmly in the saddle, laughing all the way to the bank.
What follows is a series of mishaps. Everything that can go wrong goes wrong, from fighting, divorce, accidents and death. In no time, the money is gone, too; gone with the wind.
There is nothing as heart wrenching as being shown a wretched soul hobbling down the street and being told, “See that man? He had money like groundnuts, but he lost it all...”
Benson Riungu remembers one such drunken youth who is is now a senior citizen pulling up his Range Rover Sports outside Cameo Cinema in the 1970s and opening the boot to expose briefcases packed with cash.
“What,” he cried in mother tongue, “is a man to do with all this money?”
Only a young man, who has come into money through illegal means, would ask such a question. Fortunately, the women who work in the drink and flesh-related sectors always have ready answers to that question.