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Today's man must take his rightful place in the home

By Lynet Otieno | December 5th 2014

Kenya: We called her Mama John. She would harvest sisal, process it (manually) and get fibre enough to make many ropes.

On this day, having worked a whole week, she boarded a matatu at dawn to a faraway market where she sold all her ropes, earning slightly more than Sh3,000.

She returned home in time to cook supper for her family. It had been a long while since their plates had seen proteins, and on this day she had bought beef.

She had also bought kerosene, soap, sugar and other basics. Mama John saved Sh2,000 for the many other needs that included paying school fees for one of her sons at a local secondary school.

Although her husband left the house every day, he never worked, and was known to drink somewhere on the banks of a nearby river. He could also be found at one of the homes where he had inherited wives, or somewhere chatting with fellow men.

Mama John was busy cooking when her husband appeared. He did not really look drunk, but he behaved like he was. "Joyce!" he called out loud. That was her name.

He went on to ask for the money Joyce had made. Knowing the money would go straight to the brewer, Joyce hid it in one of the rubber shoes she wore.

When her husband did not find the money, he became violent. By the time neighbours intervened, the woman was dead. Her husband had tied her to a chair, tied a mattress on her, doused it – and her – in paraffin, and set the house ablaze.

Gold diggers

He blamed his crime on alcohol and wallowed in poverty until he died. That was in 2000.

Fast-forward to 2014, and many women now talk of ticks for husbands, boyfriends and fathers of their children. Social media is full of posts from angry men and women castigating these male gold diggers, commonly referred to as sperm donors.

FM stations are cashing in on the problems of women living with irresponsible men, some of who are abusive.

There is a crop of men that won't work hard, and when they do, they have so many commitments that the nuclear family comes last, because their wives will fill in the gap.

These men have an eye for hardworking women and have mastered the art of getting money from their unsuspecting wives, sometimes using violence.

Responsible mothers teach their daughters to be home makers, responsible and supportive of their husbands.

For fear of disappointing family and the larger society, women in such messed up relationships persevere, despite the psychological torture.

No normal woman will sit and watch her own child sleep hungry. Such men know this. They know the children his wife struggled to educate alone will bear his name; and even if she was to save for and buy property, it would be called his.

We could start by teaching children, both boys and girls, how to be responsible.

Our fathers imparted to their sons that knowledge but today's men appear too busy to do the same for their sons. Men must teach their sons to be men. They must lead by example and take responsibility for the children they bring forth.

A man is the head of the family and he must rise to the occasion when duty calls.

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