We are now the parents, and, unfortunately, too many did not learn from our parents’ mistakes....
Millennials are saying no to traditional marriage... in record numbers
I am tired. On behalf of latter-stage 20-something-year-olds everywhere, I have had it up to here with the relentless pressure to stagger down the aisle. Up to here, I tell you!
I say 20-something, but I’m talking about my fellow millennials who are staring down the barrel of 30, which according to common knowledge, is when life ends. Everyone knows this.
We have had such good times, have we not, wakongwe wenzangu? We witnessed the handshake between the old syllabus and the new one, and then the break-up that led to an even newer one. We were there when a president who was not known for saying much gave a press conference announcing that his heart (and his everything else) had only ever belonged to one woman. We watched those Trust adverts that showed up at 9pm and turned our parents deaf and blind. We paid for computer packages and ‘shambala’ wrist bands. And, of course, we drank our fathers under the table.
But alas, our number appears to have been called. Navigating the world after crossing that 25 bridge is a proper headache. Doing so without a significant other is like walking through Pipeline with white shoes.
These days, a spouse is like an ID; you have to show it to be attended to. Just ask anyone who has tried making the trip home with only sugar and flour. The assembled relatives, a gang ironically made up mostly of divorced aunties and uncles on their third wives; they watch you unloading your car with folded faces, waiting to see if a wife is hidden behind the 20 litres of cooking oil. You could gift that taskforce a Range Rover each, and they’d still ask you where the spouse is.
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When you raise your hand to fist-bump someone as per the Covid-19 control protocols, their eyes instead linger on your finger, shocked that you’re using it for anything other than holding a wedding ring.
When you sit down to banter with your mother, she doesn’t even want to hear the sizzling gossip which has been burning your throat all the way from Timbuktu, about your aunt and her new boytoy. No, her eyes glaze over, and she takes the first opportunity to interject: “What happened to that girl you used to sneak into your bedroom when you thought we were asleep? Hawataki ng’ombe?”
Your old man, the village’s fiercest and most eloquent BBI critic, has no interest in discussing the philosophical implications of a hustler presidency; he would rather list your entire family tree in academic detail. You do not realise it at the time, but it’s his subtle way of helping you choose baby names.
There is a conspiracy afoot. I am convinced of it. The engineers of this conspiracy are the folks who went ahead and married their childhood sweethearts, or their campus baes, or the sponsors they managed to steal from distracted feminists. These folks will not rest until the whole world is just as married, and therefore as miserable as they are.
They are very good at what they do, and they’re shameless about it.
First, they bombard you with photos of their bundles of joy, babies dressed in tiny Arsenal jerseys and with frothing, toothless smiles. They crop out the mounting pile of diapers on the side, and they don’t include themselves in the photos because then you’d see the bags under their eyes, and the absence of a will to live.
Then, they trick you with videos of their husbands, on the one weekend when they are not cheating and have grudgingly decided to spend time together. So, just the two of them, curled up together in a united stand against this unrelenting weather, or cooking together in the kitchen in a united stand against patriarchy. Together, always, just like the Lord intended.
If subtlety doesn’t work, they have no problem being direct. They will sneak it into conversation no matter what you say. If you tell them you’re just starting your Masters, they will point out that nothing compares to mastering a marriage with your soulmate. If you say you want to travel a bit, they roll out their three kids and tell you travelling with your family is the second closest thing to God after cleanliness. “The animals went in two by two, did they not?”
Don’t fall for it. We’re old, not stupid. They just hate the idea of someone not having to pay fees, the thought that there are people getting eight hours of sleep. They cannot imagine going out and not being frozen at the door with ‘Where do you think you’re going?’. Or not having your phone on silent at night.
Resist, people. As long as you can.