The stereotypes have gone on for a while now, but could it also be because these women have gone to uncharted territories to make things happen?
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Know no vulnerability, femininity
Anne Njeri, a city business lady and a single mother, coincidentally raised by a single mum, says she know no vulnerability or femininity because she was nurtured to be masculine. She ‘thinks like a lady but acts like a man’.
“In my endeavour to be tough and masculine, I automatically lost the so-called submissiveness. Partly, this has turned out to be a curse to me because I can’t get a husband. If a man is to marry me, he has to be extremely hardworking because I am not needy,” says the 34-year-old.
When asked whether Kikuyu women really love, or are all about money, Njeri fumes.
“You know there is a misconception. You are not just going to show love to an irresponsible joker. Personally, I’d rather remain single or get someone to only pass me sperm than permanently put up with rubbish from a man in name of marriage. We Kikuyu women truly love but ours is the so-called ‘tough-love‘. We say it like it is. Unfortunately, this is our Achilles heel because most men can‘t stand it. Most Kenyan women suffer in silence, and pretend things are okay, even when they are oppressed,” Njeri shoots from the hip.
She concludes by saying for some of them to get husbands, when most men are lazy and women are expected to be submissive no matter what, is a bit of a challenge. Liz Njambi says, unlike the rest, Kikuyu women are upwardly mobile and very enterprising.
“We comprise the biggest number of women who buy property in this city (Nairobi). Ask around, most landladies are Kikuyus,“ she brags, adding: “We are go-getters and independent. We are the last people to have joint accounts with husbands. It’s not good to depend on a man. It’s always good to have your money on the side as a fall back plan, just in case,” giggles Njambi.
That matriarchal elements still exist in the community is no secret. Kikuyus, unlike women from other communities, inherit property such as land and still have a lot of say in naming of children. To them, children belong to mothers, and in the event of separation or divorce they take them. Shockingly, some even —get this— pay their own dowry.
Why men fear marrying them
Apparently, this could be a contributing factor as to why men fear marrying them.
“When you marry a Kikuyu, just know the children are not yours. If the marriage is dissolved, she will go with them. Which man will easily take such a risk? This makes most men who marry these women feel less obligated.
Also Kikuyu woman, unlike others, are so aggressive in perpetuating their dominance. Even when married to men from other ethnic communities, they ensure their children — who are clueless about their fathers’ language — speak Kikuyu,” says Sam Oluchiri, who tells this writer he dated a couple of Kikuyu women, but couldn’t marry either of them.
Unfortunately, experts warn, this state of affairs has had a great negative impact on how Kikuyu women raise children, especially boys. Sammy Ndirangu, a social researcher who has worked with two different NGOs in Central Kenya says women empowerment has emboldened women, but unfortunately disenfranchised men, consequently making them less family oriented.
Most families are dysfunctional
“Most families in the area are dysfunctional, with rampant cases of single motherhood. This, according to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014 , partly explains why Central Kenya has the lowest birth and fertility rates nationally, which are on a steady decline. Most of these women try to teach boys how to be men. Of course, with disastrous results. Boys get a raw deal,” says Ndirangu.
He adds: “In most of those single motherhood homes, girls learn by observation and evolve into their mums; tough as nails and with an inherited distrust for husbands and almost no soft skills needed for partnering with a man in relationship. Boys on the other hand lack role models and become irresponsible.
“Reported cases of grown men in their 30s and 40s still depending on their mothers and sisters for handouts; teenage boys who resort to street life, alcoholism, and crime are common in the area.”
Ndirangu concludes by saying that it is a vicious cycle that only Kikuyu women can fix.
However, it must be noted there are many successful marriages between Kikuyu women with men from both Kikuyu and other communities.
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