Paul Bungei is among selectmen who seem to believe that marrying a kienyeji woman is the ultimate magic wand trick.
"I will wife my kienyeji girl this December. Wedding plans are underway as we speak and I have never been happier," beamed a visibly happy and content Paul Bungei, as he pulled his seat to help me understand the sudden appreciation for village-bred women among men.
"I met my kienyeji fiancee at a kin's wedding here in the city. She was part of the cohort of our village people in attendance. I knew her from the village, which I had left five years earlier when she was clearing secondary school. She was one of those girls that attended Chabweiya Nursery School, St Mark Chabweiya Primary School, and finally Chabweiya CDF-Funded Community-Project Mixed and Day Secondary School."
He is convinced that his kienyeji will make a perfect wife and the ideal mother to his children, as she's unpolluted by the city's lifestyle evident in slay queens.
Its too early to decide whether Bungei is a lucky chap, but there has been a statement making rounds on Twitter that says, 'a lost Kuku kienyeji will always find its way back home, whereas a kuku broiler will stay at any place so long as there is food.'
This statement is not advice to people wanting to venture into poultry farming, far from it. Metaphorically, the words' kienyeji' and 'broiler' have been used on Kenyan social media to mean provincial and city women, respectively. Away from the metaphor, this phrase is highly debatable.
For the better part of the last six months, Kenyans on social media, especially Twitter, have been embroiled in a debate. Between a village lady and a city lady who makes the best wife at home? Though the debate has been nothing but hilarious, beyond the jokes, you will come across tons of Kenyan men making a mistake men before them made for ages. That men are going back to the village to pick a girl from their father's homes and take her to college/university or the city, hoping that this girl will maintain her crudeness.
This debate brings into mind one of the greatest songs to come out of East Africa; Nitakusaidiaje by Professor Jay ft. Ferooz. The song narrates the plight of a young man who left the city to get a wife from the village. Zubeda was a rustic lady when she first arrived in the city. Out of innocence, she maintained her rustic and unsophisticated village nature. The man loved her for her innocence, respect, and submissiveness. His friends admired her and envied him because she had not been swept away by the wave of the wretchedness sweeping in the city. At least not yet.
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It did not take long though before the city's wretchedness took its course in her life. Zubeda made city friends who corrupted her mind. She started drinking and getting back home late. She started partying with rich men. The man that brought her to the city had lost his attractiveness. In the end, Zubeda left her marriage to pursue the bliss that the city was offering.
A decade since this song was released, it has become a true reflection of what is happening in Kenya and a debate among young men and women on social media. As appealing as the whole Kienyeji idea is, I have always thought that every city girl was once a village girl and that what quantifies a woman's wife material is her natural character and not where she lives.
The idea that Kienyeji women make better wives than city girls could likely be fallacious. What makes one a better wife is a debate that can take a whole day debating upon, but the woman's locality is not one of them. Village girls' unsophisticated nature could blind men into thinking that it is their true nature. In Actuality, this is so because these ladies are not exposed to the sophistication of the city. They are content with kienyeji food, they are content with cheap clothes, short hair, no make-up, and picnics by the riverside. But do they have a choice but to be cheap?
They wear mitumba because every cloth store in the village market sells mitumba. Otherwise, if Jade Collection had a branch in Buyofu Market in Busia County, they will opt to shop at Jade Collection over their lying kitenge tailor. They will pick pizza over ugali matumbo if the pizza was part of the menu written on the hotel's chalkboard. They will choose to visit you in Uber over boda boda if Uber was an option in the village.
Men's preference for the Kienyeji is an issue that roots from a financial point of view rather than a matter of morality. As far as my experience goes, a village girl can be as wretched as a city girl. I have lost two girls to DJs before. I once lost a girl to an upmarket club DJ. We were revelling in a club in Kasarani. She left my table to go request a song in the DJ's booth on the first floor. She never came back. You can bet on me meeting Jehova Wanyonyi before she comes back. Likewise, I lost a kienyeji girl to a disco-matanga DJ in the village.
The only difference between their wretchedness is the degree of the sophistication of their sins. For instance, whereas the broilers jump from one Subaru boy into a BMW's old sponsor, the Kienyeji jumps from one boda boda rider into a local headteacher's double cabin pickup. The city broilers document their sins in the form of photos and videos because unlike village people, people in the city have perfected the art of minding their own business. The village people are very judgmental, a reason why kienyeji's sins are done in darkness and green lodgings. The reason why we admonish city girls more than village girls is that city girls document their sins.
Job Kimenyi, a high school teacher, shares his experience of how he once cried upon realising that his broiler had downloaded a positive pregnancy kit photo online then sent it to him claiming that she was pregnant. She insisted on procuring an abortion at the cost of Sh8,000. By the time he learned that the downloaded pregnant kit belonged to Kerrison Thompson in Canada, she had blocked him.
A friend, who prefers anonymity, counted his losses after a kienyeji girl lied to him that she was pregnant. He lived in the city. After the kienyeji revealed that she was pregnant, she asked him for Sh2,000 pregnancy clinic fee that he had to pay monthly. By the time my friend learned that pregnancy kits cost Sh50 in the village, and that the girl was not pregnant, he had lost Sh12, 000. Both Job and my friend had been lied to and swindled by both a broiler girl and Kienyeji babe.
It's suffice to say that 'kienyeji' is only sanitised on social media, but kwa ground, the only difference between the 'broilers' and the 'kienyeji' is that whereas the broiler sits on a toilet bowl to answer a nature call, the kienyeji crouches just above the toilet hole for the same purpose. Otherwise, their characters are dependent on their nature and not whether one lives in the city or the village.