You probably know a bachelor who has it all; a good job, nice car, lives in a great apartment in a middle-class estate and is well into his 30s — half-way through his life-expectancy — or even in his 40s. It is also very true that we have women of such qualities who are not married. However, it’s men who marry women in our society.
Thus, it is very likely that it’s men who are boycotting marriage. Much as more and more women would want to beat the biological clock ticking towards an age where their ‘market value’ diminishes by getting married, men — who pretty much initiate marriage — seem not to be interested any more. Even a cursory glance at the Nairobi roads this December will reveal that we had less weddings compared to a few years ago when on Saturdays, every second car on the street was part of a wedding motorcade.
As we scuttle towards the technological world, some individuals, including notably, the late heretical Professor William Ochieng’, believe that marriage has outlived its usefulness and we may gradually move away from it. He disparaged those who said that the end of marriage will be the end of mankind by reminding them that in the animal kingdom no marriages take place but there are billions of insects (and many other animals) on the planet. More and more, men continue to opt out of the marriage bandwagon. Reason? We hit the streets and asked men why.What do you love about Kenya?
Lack of homemaking skills
Many young people went to boarding school; hardly the right place to learn any requisite homemaking skills. “Nowadays, women are competing with men. No woman wants to do household chores such as cleaning, cooking and related stuff that was traditionally meant for women,” Peter Munji, a civil servant argues. He adds, “The current crop of women even if you marry them, they insist on hiring the services of house girls who end up doing virtually everything in the house. So what is the point of marrying? When you can hire yourself a maid to cook, clean and take care of your home!”
Dorothy Angwenyi, a public relations practitioner in Nairobi, argues that men should smell the coffee and realise we are in the 21st Century. She argues that men are being unreasonable by insisting they want women to do things like their mothers used to back in the day. She says if men can’t meet the standards of their forefathers, then, they should shut up and keep their expectations about cooking and homemaking to themselves.
“Unless a man can build a house from scratch with only mud and thatch it with straw, or hunt down a squirrel for stew he has no business asking me to cook like his mother,” rants Angwenyi. At 32, she is very optimistic that she will be married in due course and feels “no pressure at all”.
Drink themselves silly
“A woman must be able to do household chores without complaining. Some get it. But majority who have visited me, compete with me in as far as who crawls out of bed last is concerned. Others leave utensils in the sink and will prefer eating out than cooking at home,” complains Emmanuel, a journalist. Not just Emmanuel, more and more men, especially in urban centres complains of their women being lazy and lacking in homemaking skills. Then there is another lot who drink themselves silly. They compete with men in drinking and when asked, they claim they will stop when they married. “We have a case of women who would make great wives but have strange behaviour such as overindulging in beer drinking and smoking.
Technology taking women’s place
Funny thing, women tell you that they will stop drinking when they get married. Who wants such women as mother to their children?” wonders Alex Korir, an animator. Technology seems to be playing a major role in as far as discouraging men from marriage is concerned. Gadgets such as microwaves and the availability of ready-made food has made life much easier for most bachelors.
Every invention tries to fill a certain gap. A microwave for instance revolutionised cooking. A man doesn’t need a woman to wake up and fix or warm him a meal late at night when he gets home from work or drinking. Besides cooking, even skills such as washing and ironing have been replaced by machines, or cleaning ladies, thus men rarely expect to feel the presence of a wife in their lives, like say their fathers did. The idea of being a mere housewife is no longer appealing or tenable to both sexes. Without these privileges, some men hardly see the need for marriage.
“See, why do you need a wife now, except maybe for kids? Which in any case you can have and still live separately, granted you take care of them, lest you end up on Deadbeat Kenya,” says Wycliffe Onderi, a Nairobi resident. In places like Nairobi, ready-made food has taken the place of homemade meals — seemingly for good.
“Why marry a woman to keep your home tidy and cook when we have ready-cooked meals all over the place, including in supermarkets? And we have women who go round cleaning houses for a small fee, and are more thorough than your average Nairobi girl,” observes Douglas Kanguru, 30, who works with a county government.
If she cannot cook, wash or at least supervise these chores, many men are questioning the role women can play in their lives. Turns out, many men are stuck with the traditional expectations of a wife that are no longer realistic. “Unless a woman comes along who will play the role, we are willing to play around until she comes around,” notes Onderi, a 36-year-old nurse in Transmara.
Opportunities to fool around
The other factor is that, while in the past marriage was the easiest guarantee for frequent sex (at least in theory), nowadays there is so much sex available. From brothels where commercial sex is really ‘affordable’ to women who are willing to participate in no-strings-attached sex. This state of affairs has offered men who previously only got into marriage to access free regular sex, with more and more options to satisfy the need. Unlike women who get frowned upon when they date or marry younger men, men can always find women for dating or marrying without raising eyebrows.
Little wonder then that it is very common to see an old man with a woman young enough to be his daughter. “Overall, the basic tenets that marriage revolved around have been ‘devolved’,” notes Opondo Omondi, a University of Nairobi trained social scientist. He adds: “If it is sex you want, you can easily get it without having to be married, for kids many men are proud absentee dads, and if they pay for the upkeep, it makes them brag openly.”
Single mothers menace
The availability of sex for men and carelessness of some women has led to rampant cases of single mothers. Some of the men interviewed for this report claimed that most of the women available tend to have children somewhere.
“It’s amazing, almost all the women I know whom I thought would make great girlfriends or even wives are single mums,” argues Charles, a university student. He adds that majority of women he ends up with always turn out to have children; something he says complicates matters even further. For Fabian Ogot, a 32-year old business executive with a media organisation in Nairobi, another reason men no longer marry is that a big number of marriageable women have children. And let us face it, single mothers are not an easy lot to marry. Given a single mother and a single woman men will invariably gravitate towards the single woman. “Most single mothers are a difficult lot. And lately they tend to love the child more than their man.
“I have a friend who moved in with a single mother, who is in constant communication with her baby daddy something that really annoys him,” explains Fabian.