Society’s role in creating boy child crisis in Kenya

[Photo: Courtesy]
The boy child. Depicted as the bastion of bad dance styles like odi dance, refusing to study, refusing to take responsibility, refusing to marry, and when married refusing to act married whilst fatherhood is reduced to selfies once a month or at best, a week, at a fun place where beer is sold 50 metres from the bouncing castle, where he has “lovingly” exiled his children.

Being of this gender myself I have pondered the question of what went wrong? When did the proverbial rain start beating us? My first thought is on parenting: in many households the only chore the boy child does is play.

Whilst the girl child is on her toes helping from the word go. The girl child is told how to sit and how to be mannered. The girl child is helping with cooking and cleaning while the boy child is outside playing.

The boy child grows without discipline and without particular purpose in the home. He takes on the role of a lazy lion that roars for the females in his imagined pride to meet his every need.

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Don’t think of it as a decent roar; It is a tantrum. Thrown in anger or tears but a tantrum nonetheless. Since most societies are patriarchal, the boy child is told he is a man and a leader at between 10 and 14 years of age.


While the girl child is taught to care for the family, the boy child emulates the father; who is hardly home and hardly speaks when he is at home. Care is provided by quantities of cash and problems are handled by long visits to the pub. Drugs are preferred over discourse in the home.

The boy child grows up knowing a ritual makes you a man, you have no other purpose in the home other than throwing tantrums and if you have issues find a recreational drug to use to drown out the pain. The second issue is abuse.

About 60 per cent of the men I know lost their virginity between the ages 7 and 15 years to a woman aged 18 and above. Mostly a house help. Thanks to our backward belief system concerning manhood, the poor boy child is made to believe that such activities are conquests and trophies.

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In society there are two primary kinds of addicts. Functional addicts and the addicts who freeload and steal for their addiction. In the past, society guaranteed some function for the addict boy child it created. Energies were spent fighting neighbouring tribes, planning feast days, talking at the baraza about the latest scandal in someone’s house and summoning them for tribal discipline.Society had expectations and roles that accommodated the addict.

Down to polygamy and how it was viewed. His addictions and character were acceptable for they performed a role in society. A cantankerous attitude was useful if you had to fight off lions and warriors from neighbouring villages using nothing but a rungu and spear.

Society had use for the addict even in terms of population growth. The more wives and the more children meant more warriors for the tribe and ensured continuity in case large swaths of the village were wiped out.


We however forgot to update the boy child’s role and in today’s society men are role-less. No one quite knows what a father is meant to do and worse what a man is for. A successful husband is one who doesn’t cheat or beat the wife. He doesn’t need to do much just breath, eat, sire and die. There is no warriors’ glory nor a chief’s crown.

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This role-less limbo has created a free loading, purposeless, sex and drug addicted man who lives for the bar, his pals and sex. When he does have the ability to get a job and work he adds another addiction: wealth for wealth’s sake.His money is his to please himself with. He buys toys without end and since it’s unpopular to be polygamous he dates everyone.

These men find it hard to engage in any meaningful sense to society or to their own families. Their relationships are based on fun and investment for fun. This man has no capacity or expectation to change because neither family nor society expects him to. He is for all intents and purposes a normal human when he behaves in this most ridiculous of ways.

The solution lies in the re-imagination of society where there is no male or female, for we are all equal. Where from birth to adulthood both genders are brought up in the expectation that they need to care for family and society above self.

And the only true wealth is the wealth gained for the sake of lifting others. Only when we teach society to look out for each other will we heal the boy child. His physical strength turned into a tool for protection and wealth creation. Let us set high standards as the gauge for manhood.

Mr Bichachi is a Communication [email protected]

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