There is an outcry from women over lack of serious men to get into relationships with or to marry them. There is not enough scientific data to back up such claims, but any keen observer will tell you Kenya’s urban centres, especially Nairobi, are full of men in their late 20s and 30s who have completely refused to grow up. They have good jobs and earn big money, but have absolutely no intentions of getting into serious relationships or getting married as is expected of men their age. Prospective wives have given up on them. Their parents have desperately pleaded with them to settle down, but in vain.
One can spot them from a distance. They have stuck to youthful cultural values. Most of them, for instance, cannot get enough of toys; they drive sports cars (those tiny toys no self-respecting man would proudly give his mother-in-law a lift in, that is, if she at all accepts to board such a toy). When such men ‘graduate’, they buy Subarus, which they ‘pimp’ with music systems loud enough to compete for attention with a night club.
There are so many of these kinds of men. When you first meet them, they pass for serious men. But with time, women regret ever giving them a chance in the first place. Take the case of Joyce Nyakio, a sales representative in Westlands, Nairobi who complains of a boyfriend she regrets dating. “I remember this dude I dated some time back after campus. He always sagged his pants. His dress code was always sloppy, even when in official clad,” she says. She adds that at times, she would deliberately decline to accompany him at events, fearing embarrassment. That he was much older than her, and still couldn’t see anything wrong with sagging, used to piss her off. Joyce is not alone, many other women have experienced such ‘men’, and many others who have refused to grow up. There are a couple of pointers that help one spot such ‘overgrown boys’ masquerading as men.
Video game enthusiasts
There were days when video games were a province of children, and at worst teenagers. With the invention of animated football, men have never been given an excuse to stay in their teenagehood than in the present day. For instance, in Nairobi there are video game dens where children go to play computer games. Shockingly, there are grown men who have invaded these dens, and now jostle for space with kids to play video games. This development is so rampant that some clever businessmen (and women) have created special sections in their shops specifically for grown men.
Tales have been told by girlfriends and even wives of men in their 30s and even 40s who wake up over the weekend, and their idea of unwinding is to drive to the nearest video games dens to play FIFA. And they always do their activities in groups. Surely, at 35 one must have better toys to play with not video games. A tale is told of a veteran ‘Kijana’ politician (now deceased) from Western Kenya who had a penchant for cartoons, so much so that he would spend an entire weekend watching them. Really, should grown men watch cartoons?
Living with parents
There is something absolutely wrong with an adult in his late 20s or over 30 who has no qualms living in his parent’s house. There is something un-African about a grown man who still live with their parents. So they entertain their female friends and girlfriends in their parents’ house or in their servants’ quarters? Oh no! It’s a shame. It is bad manners to take a woman to your parents’ house at such an advanced age. It is even worse, when a grown man bothers his younger friends by requesting to turn their houses into lodgings. These kinds of men have no shame going to ‘entertain’ their girlfriends in their friends’ houses. While there are those who genuinely cannot afford to move out (jobs are no longer available in this country), many can easily afford to start lives elsewhere, but are pampered by their parents. Thus, they see nothing wrong with living with parents.
Irene Omari, a nurse in Kisii County tickled this writer with a tale of her former boyfriend. Apparently, for close to four years, she never knew her 31-year-old boyfriend still lived with his parents. “He always took me to his friend’s house. Interestingly, he created the impression that he owned the house, and that he was just accommodating his friend who actually owned the house. Up until one day when his sister, who had become my buddy, unwittingly blew up his cover and scandalised him,” says Irene. Grown men should be discouraged to live live their parents. Imagine the shame of a 35-year-old bumping into his mother in the corridor from the bathroom with only a towel on. If you are a woman dating such a loser, just know you are in for a long haul; it is very likely he is not marrying you any time soon.
Drinking like college kids
In most bars in Kenyan neighbourhoods, aptly called ‘locals’, you are likely to see men who drink, weekend in, weekend out like there is no tomorrow. They drink every day like they are discovering alcohol daily. Some even compete to drink beer. They participate in ‘let’s see who will take more beer today’ kind of competitions. Some even have the audacity to put pictures of this or that party they attended or pictures of themselves drunk on social media. Or worse, they constantly update their friends on social media while on their drinking sprees, which they do every other weekend. One can be forgiven for confusing them with college kids breathing the air of freedom for the first time.
These ‘teenage adults’ also like their women and have playboy tendencies that they never stop talking about. Given they are constantly in groups, they are ever competing who will sleep with the highest number of women. They talk about the escapades, ingratiating everyone with tales like a teenage boy who just had his first fulfilling sexual experience. They have broken the hearts of many women who thought they would be married to such men only to discover that such men were hardly prepared to handle fatherhood or husband responsibilities.
In one of Nairobi’s most popular joints where men and women catch football matches, the number of men who gather there are mostly men in their 30s. While presumably you would expect they are mature and can contain their excitement, it is one of the most childish and churlish places you end up enduring than enjoying your match. Mud-slinging is sanctioned in the famous establishments. Fist fights from disagreements on bets and refereeing decisions are commonplace. They have no qualms engaging in mock fights in bars and other social joints.
They assume just because they adorn Arsenal FC, Manchester United FC or Brazil jersey, they blend in with the 20-somethings around them. Some of these men are probably behind some of the childish Facebook and Twitter posts you have read during this football season. They are willing to follow every single match, mostly because they are single or unanswerable to their women. Some are the most uncouth people you will ever meet; they disrespect bar maids and even fondle them at the slightest of opportunity, besides meting out other forms of emotional harassment.
Why can’t they grow up?
Adulthood comes with attendant responsibilities. And these men are pathologically allergic to responsibilities. To them, things such as settling down in marriage and starting a family, building a house for themselves are a big task. They fear responsibilities so much that when told, for instance, that they have made a woman pregnant, they literally cry or deny responsibility by running out of town. These men want to do all these things when there is a perfect opportunity, mostly when they have millions in their account. And the more money at their disposal, the more irresponsible they seem to get. The cultural norms that define manhood have changed. In the past, it was easy to pigeonhole men into a category of successful men and failures. Great fathers and the deadbeat village drunkards. Now there are a zillion shades of masculinity. When you see them, ladies, run for the hills!