Thursday evening caught me seated with a bunch of friends at Kwa Muthoni’s, a wines and spirits joint located in downtown Nairobi. Kwa Muthoni’s is my favourite tipple joint in town, where my friends and I converge in the evenings to wet our whistle after a hard day’s work, while yammering about the trending topics of the day.
On this particular evening, we discussed our friend Rambo the taxi guy, whose wife ran off to her matrimonial home the previous week.
This was the third time in two years she has bailed herself out of the union.
Even though her return is expected soon, local wags believe that the Rambo’s woes will end the day he realizes he is married to his wife and not the bar. There is even a popular joke suggesting that Rambo should be handed over to the police so they can help take him to hospital to have his alcohol level checked.
“This chap has an alcohol problem,” a fellow at the bar was saying.
“The problem is there is no one to supervise these youngsters and their marriages,” croaked Muthee the mechanic, who prides himself in being Kwa Muthoni’s eldest patron.
He then wondered aloud why Rambo — who is also famed for philandering — was allowed to marry in the first place. He felt that with such characters, you can easily turn any marriage into a house of cards. “I think the government should form a Ministry of Marital Affairs to enforce discipline among married couples. This would be the best way to discourage the youth from getting into and out of marriage whenever one feels like it, as if marriage is some sort of matatu.” Muthee declared.
He then explained how his proposed ministry would vet aspiring couples. For you to get married, the ministry would assess qualities such as your emotional intelligence, social adaptability, personality disorders, fathering abilities, criminal record and history of substance abuse.
“In other words, you are suggesting the formation a whole government ministry to snoop into our lives?” posed Wambo, the mtumba magnate from Gikomba.
To this, Muthee simply nodded.
“But that is tantamount to trespass!” screeched a bewildered Msakhulu, the self-proclaimed intellectual of that part of Nairobi’s backstreet.
“In any case, do you expect this tightfisted government to waste its hard-earned taxpayers’ money on such silly tests?” he posed.
This comment amused Boiyo the plumber, who agreed that the government was busy doing other things and cannot start poking its nose in people’s affairs.
Just then, Kilonzo the hawker stormed into the room, bearing his trademark bucket of boiled eggs in hand.
I ordered two of these gems, topped them with a generous helping of kachumbari and calmly munched while listening to Muthee bloviating.
He was saying that marriage, as with other institutions, requires careful screening of aspiring candidates. Such a move would weed out the jokers, misfits, alcoholics, drama queens, naggers and similar scallywags who give this noble institution a bad name.
Stay informed. Subscribe to our newsletter
“Still, we cannot really test people for marriage, as if they are about to join the NYS,” remarked Oti, who had remained quiet all along. “I do not see the use for such a test.”
“If we can test aptitude for skills as ordinary as driving, why can’t there be similar tests for the even more serious business of marriage?” Muthee retorted.
A head or two could be seen nodding.
An amused patron even ordered another round for Muthee, but withdrew the offer after Muthoni refused to surrender the prize on credit.
In the end, everyone seemed to agree with Ole Muthee, and the debate wound on to well past 10 om, before Muthoni hounded us all out.
“Masaa ya Mututho imekwisha. Ingine mutakunywa kesho,” she barked in her characteristic Kiganjo tone, eliciting countless chuckles and half-muted curses from members of the group.
Thus, we quickly emptied our glasses, bid each other Godspeed and cheerily staggered out of our little paradise.
On the way home, I repeatedly caught myself wondering how I would have performed in a test conducted by envisaged Ministry of Marital Affairs.