Village tycoon is no match for city loafer
By - George Olwalo
| December 17th 2012
There were days when Nairobi bachelors were snapped up like hot cakes by wide-eyed brides in the village, irrespective of what they did for a living, recalls George Olwalo
It might shock the young that there was a time when a Nairobi loader stood a higher chance of winning a village beauty’s heart than a village tycoon who was the proud owner of the only posho mill at the market.
Women of the entire 1980s and earlier melted at the sight of a Nairobi bachelor. To them, a man working in the capital city was the ideal man — a celeb if you may.
Men with the ‘city’ title were the craze. In Nyanza, a man who worked in Nairobi was endearingly called Ja boma or Ja jiji (the city man). When they visited the village, their presence was felt far and wide. They were thought to be intelligent, successful, exposed and blessed.
Some women even felt that because Nairobi bachelors lived in a city that had streetlights, was blessed with many social amenities, had piped water and access to electricity, bagging one was the only way of leaving the countryside and its hardships to a place of comfort for ever.
Knowing they were hot cakes, the lowliest of Nairobi men fully exploited the situation.
Those who were in menial jobs did not betray their station when they visited the village. Their manner of dressing put them in the league of the city haves. They would spot well-pressed suits, ties, their shoes polished to high sheen, to fool women that they were white-collar workers.
Hillary Opondo, a former cleaner at a popular nightclub in Nairobi city, concedes that if it were not for his city status, he would have found it difficult to win his wife’s heart, a woman of bewitching beauty who had the attention of many men.
The 62-year-old man from Kakola village in Nyando District, Kisumu County, reveals that in the city, he was a nonentity. But he realised that when he came home dressed in a coat, a tie and carrying a briefcase, he earned instant respect. Many women looked his way.
On one visit to the village, he says he found his married sister at home. Pleased with the way he was dressed, she jokingly told him he could win the heart of any single woman around.
She even knew this beauty that many local men, including village tycoons, wanted to marry but she was confident that there was no way she would turn down a city man.
Dressed to kill, Opondo visited his sister and the woman was invited over.
The former cleaner says that the moment he was introduced as a man who works in the capital city, the woman’s eyes just lit up. In only two weeks, he had charmed her into agreeing to be his wife and had even visited her parents to ask for their blessings.
“What equally made it easy was that neither the woman nor her parents were interested in what I did for a living in the city. All they wanted to hear was that I worked in the city!” he says.
Many village women, thinking that city life was the only way to escape the mundane and boring life in the countryside, paid little attention to men in rural areas. Beatrice Indiasi was one such woman.
Beatrice says she turned down successful village farmers because she didn’t want to be ‘married’ to a hoe for the rest of her life.
Out to realise her dreams, she secretly confided to her friends and relatives that if they ever came across a city man in need of a bride, then she should get connected.
She reveals that in the early 1990s, one of her friends told her that she had a cousin who worked in the city who was still a bachelor.
When she heard this news, she pleaded with the friend not to let the opportunity slip if the man ever needed a wife.
Not long afterward, the city man visited the village and announced he was looking for a woman to marry. Like all the women of that era, Indiasi reveals that she got married to the city man without questioning what the man did for a living in the capital city.
It was only after they had moved to Nairobi that she realised that her husband scrapped through life as a handcart pusher.
Asked if she ever regretted the decision she made, she says that at first, she was bitter but since the city offered a number of opportunities, she identified an economic activity and has made the best of life.
A woman who gave her name only as Anyango says when she was 24 years old, she left her husband and eloped with a city man to Nairobi.
“I already had four children with my husband and life was boring and hard. Then I bumped into my ex boyfriend who had come for Christmas. He was dressed in a Kaunda suit and had a record player. I didn’t think twice. I left my children and eloped with him to the city. It is only after we arrived in Nairobi that I discovered he worked in a quarry. But it was already too late,” says Akinyi.
Though it is said that the capital city has lost it glamour, some people I interviewed for this article argue that a Nairobi bachelor who has a good job is still the ladys’ man.
“Many young rural women can’t stomach the drudgery of village life. They also look down upon men who do menial jobs in the village, so the moment a man announces that he works in Nairobi and has a stable job, many will do anything to get married to him. Some even marry men they have never set their eyes on,” opines Timothy Kariuki of Uthiru in Kikuyu Constituency.
Dr Agnes Owino, a sociology lecturer at the University of Nairobi, argues that from ancient times, women associate themselves with strong and intelligent men and because Nairobi men were believed to be powerful, women had no option but to fall head over heels with them.
Incidentally, while village women have since discovered that Nairobi men may not be so hot after all, the Nairobi girl will do anything to marry a man who lives in a foreign country.
Tales abound of university girls who pay visits to witchdoctors for charms to ensnare foreign tourists. It is only later, after tying the knot that it dawns on them that they married a fairly nondescript chap who saved for years to afford a trip to Nairobi.
More intriguing are the Kenyan men from the Diaspora who fly into the country and spread word that they are looking for a wife. Lasses get so excited that hardly two weeks pass before they have interviewed a number of women and settled on a favourable candidate.
We also have women who fly out of the country to marry Kenyan men — or foreigners — that they have never set eyes upon because they believe men who live in a foreign country are more prosperous and romantic.
Not surprisingly, some Kenyan men who live overseas or in Nairobi have used the status that comes with their place of resident to seduce rural women, sow wild oats and then vanish without a trace.
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