What is the way forward? [Photo: Shutterstock]

Few instances can make a woman feel like a gravedigger would make for better company than when her date launches on one of those long monotonous drawls about trekking 10 kilometres to school with hot water and salt for breakfast.

Squinting at the bill might also see such a man veering off to how his single mother sold scrap metal at Mlango Kubwa to see him through a harambee school in rural Kinangop. Such men also rarely notice that their tales of how far they have come are not akin to the rags to riches stories, rather, it is a sign of walking around with excess baggage.

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While it’s understandable when women, through their psycho-social challenges, can be needy creatures ferrying emotional baggage in high heels, the same cannot be said of a man. Being from a dysfunctional family or having suffered from kichapo cha mbwa from a drunkard father or verbal abuse from mother when her scrap metal was stolen, is no reason to crowd your woman with tales of woe.

A man suffering depression and low self-esteem might not win sympathy from a prospective woman, more so when starts whining about how his ex-file left him high and dry after losing his job when plastic was banned in Kenya. Men with baggage also fear socialising due to insecurities that negatively affect personal perceptions. Cate Rira has no time for men with baggage, especially those who don’t seem to realise they have excess luggage.

“I am single because some Kenyan men have a lot of baggage, and it has become part of their lives,” laments Rira, adding that women are not there to baby such men.   Rira says she has had to deal with men and issues surrounding their exes and family stuff, and “what they encountered in their past relationships is what guides their current relationship.”

Rira further explains that men with baggage are easily swayed by family suggestions and “I had to let them go to figure out what they want. It is not a woman’s work to hold the relationship.” She adds: “When a man has baggage, you will know it when it starts to hinder your success or happiness. It is okay to let them go, otherwise, the best you can do is to identify and inform him that the changes he wants to make will have to come from him.” 

Faith Kinel, a businesswoman, met a man with excess baggage in a club “and after a few months, we started dating but he banned me from going to clubs. The few times we went clubbing together, he did not want me to even look at me.”

Brenda Chepkwemoi, has had bad luck with men with baggage, including one who went mute for days after she substituted her profile photo with Tupac Shakur, her favourite artiste. “Whenever I wore a dress just below the knee or three-quarter trousers, he’ll get mad and say, ‘we are now in a relationship so cover yourself,’” recalls Brenda. She adds that she got more pissed when he borrowed her phone to call a friend only for it to turn into a phone snooping session. “He would go through my call log. I couldn’t deal with his insecurity.”

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DJ Pierra Makena advises women to stay when they decide to stick because “there is no man without baggage, so you just have to pick your battles. Once you have decided to settle, do not complain, sit and be humble. But if you can’t, it is okay to step aside.” Makena says of all kinds of male baggage, she cannot stand “a man when it comes to matters of my family or  trying to impose something on me, like the kind of friends I should keep or anything to do with my work.”