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You are as charming as your bank balance

By OYUNGA PALA | January 20th 2014


I was summoned to attend a mate’s 6-year old daughters’ birthday party. The text message was coded with all the right undertones.

Children birthday parties are elaborate affairs but fortunately our host proved to be pragmatic. Bring what you are drinking and I will feed you. Carry your kids along for there is a bouncing castle and good cheer.

It sounded like a wholesome family weekend gathering and the promise that a man who worked for a top shelf whisky brand would be attending. That was a perfect ending to a solid pitch by most accounts.

In my enthusiasm I remembered not to forget an appropriate gift for my mates’ daughter. I work with words therefore a book was the obvious choice. I made a quick detour to the supermarket for provisions.

Fairy tale

As soon as I had secured the liquor, I looked up the children books’ section. I was met with a depressing sight. The options were lean. Staring back from three covers was that same old Prince Charming with his cheesy smile from nursery school.

The Prince Charming brand still reigns and dominates the popular fairy tales. He is still risking his life to save the beautiful and always melodramatic princess. He is still foreign, rides a horse and hangs around castles. He is still taller than the damsel in distress so that he can gaze down dreamily into her eyes.

There are serious repercussions to this unchallenged proliferation of western romantic ideals.

Girls grow up to believe that the reward for being a cute helpless nuisance is a charming man who will go on a quest to win your heart.

Boys on the other hand emerge thinking they have to save women from themselves to be considered chivalrous and worthy of attention.

The Prince Charming brand is a packaged romantic ideal that has to be revised.

We need to retell these fairy tales in our image or invent new ones that are more representative of our reality.

I would hope that the policy makers would intervene with some seriousness but priorities are generally lopsided in government.


The idea is create a series of wholesome mainstream examples that ordinary children can aspire to. It is either that or we succumb to the tyranny of the socialites.

Newspapers have become racy and there is ample supply of ill-mannered pop figures screaming for attention in the pages that we leave lying around the house.

There are not enough celebrated examples of well-mannered, well-spoken, young ambassadors to rival the bad girls and boys out to flaunt their fundamentals.

If young people are to form healthy relationships in the future, they need numerous celebrated examples in the popular press.  The romantic hero courtship model is too focused on the pursuit and rush of the chase but hardily spares any mind to the living-happily-ever-after part.

The end consequence of that influence is a society of young men who have no idea of how to live with a woman after they have caught her. Raising boys to be merely conniving and show boaters is cooking up a recipe for chaos.

But it may be too late. The local equivalent of prince charming is fully entrenched in the national psyche.

Only that we call him, Mr. Money bags. In 21st century, you are only as charming as your bank balance. Get back to work.


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