Popular imaginary 'men's conference' becomes reality

A sign at 'Mens Conference' in Meru. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

In recent years, the annual Men's Conference on February 14th, or Valentine's Day, has been perceived as an illusory gathering conjured up by men to avoid their partners.

With a long list of challenges and responsibilities, the men use Valentine's Day to discuss how to handle challenges or issues in their homes and achieve success in life and relationships.

While women expect men to celebrate Valentine's Day with them, men who carry various burdens on their shoulders have decided to give reasons, which women see as excuses, why they will be unavailable on Valentine's Day.

But, unlike the Men's Conferences that dominate social media on Valentine's Day, the meeting in Meru yesterday was not shrouded in secrecy. The location and topics of conversation were not hidden.

Older participants delivered speeches and counselled young professionals on how to deal with their wives, girlfriends, finances, and extended families.

Women, with the exception of Meru County MP Elizabeth Kailemia, were not permitted at the venue. She was let in after the discussions had concluded.

The conference, organised by Ikokay-Cheki Tubonge, Meru Care Medical Centre, Chainless Entertainment, and others, was held at Ridgeways Gardens near Makutano and drew participants from Nairobi, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Samburu, and other counties.

For an entire day, bankers, businessmen, lawyers, doctors, and former and sitting MCAs opened their hearts.

They talked about finances in relationships, family roles and how to achieve success.

Pastor Robert Kirimi of Destiny Life Church told the participants they had to play their roles in the family.

"You must show the family you are the protector. A man protects and provides. If those are missing, the man has failed," said the cleric. But he also said men needed divine intervention to be able to play the role given to them.

"Men, you're in big trouble if you don't pray. Women outnumber men in churches, which is cause for concern. God is the foundation of any stable family," Kirimi said. For hours, older men in successful marriages lent a helping hand to the younger ones, who poured their hearts out about their partners' "unreasonable expectations".

"The conference gave men an opportunity to share experiences and learn," said Kenny Kaburu from Tharaka Nithi.

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