Chasing the wind
By Patricia Wawira
A quick look through the 'soul mates' column run by a local daily on weekends will reveal a common catch phrase used by the female hopefuls - that their future mates should be financially stable.
However, some singles have ended up settling down with broke partners after the financial bliss disappears.
Stories have been told of pauper suitors who borrow everything from cars to suits to impress their newfound love. Other hopefuls have been known to rush to their bank managers for a hefty loan to spend on the newfound beauty they are fighting to take home.
A female pop star of the 1980s popularised the saying that there is no romance without finance. If social aphorisms of popular culture are anything to go by, then wealthy men are confident and often look more handsome.
According to Lucy Makau, a marriage counsellor, women always insist their partners be financially stable for various reasons. For some it is due to financial insecurity, fear of poverty or social class demands.
It is also used as a strategy to ward off unnecessary admirers as well as increasing the chances of meeting an intelligent partner since the working class constitutes the cream of society.
"A woman would rather remain single than settle down with a broke fellow. The fellow might turn out to be an extra mouth to feed, a not rare reality in most families today," she says.
According to her, it is rare to find a man looking for a financially stable woman because, despite his poor financial situation, a man will always regard himself as the breadwinner. Only a gigolo or a social pest will have the nerve to indicate that he needs a financially stable partner.
When Mary met John, a 28-year-old university graduate, she had no idea that the car he used to take pride in and the bungalow they lived in belonged to John’s brother.
She only learnt this when John’s brother returned with his family from abroad where he was pursuing a Masters degree.
According to her, John had shown unwavering interest since Mary had forwarded to him her recent photo. He immediately asked her for a date at a five-star hotel in Nairobi.
"There was nothing to betray the fact that he was just a broke graduate. He always carried himself with dignity as we toured his brother’s business enterprises," she recalls.
Mary is not alone. Josephine Kendi, a 36-year-old businesswoman based at Maua, has even kicked her broke husband out.
According to Josephine, she discovered that her husband of three years was a fake tycoon before it was too late. She spied on her husband’s bank account through a family friend, her husband’s most trusted banker.
"I suspected that something was seriously wrong when he started to borrow petty cash from me to spend on drinks. Before I decided to kick him out for good, the family friend confided to me that the loot my husband had inherited from his late father was about to be finished," she reflects.
When she graduated with a Masters degree from the University of Nairobi, 28-year-old Esther Warue wanted to settle down with a man who matched her social status. She ditched a few broke suitors before she chose a man she describes as economically stable and a social figure. Unknown to her, she had begun the biblical journey of chasing the wind.
"When we had our first child he started arriving home late," she says.
"As our romance turned sour, I started to seek a shoulder to lean on. It’s at this time of need when I met Steve."
Steve was not only financially stable but responsible as well. However, it did not take her long before she caught him red handed with a beautiful girl in his Prado’s backseat while a friend of his chauffeured them around.
"I may sound sceptical but financial stability is a delusion. Those who appear to be stable are either fake tycoons or men with a string of mistresses. Looking for a financially stable partner today will either yield a curse or a pipe dream," she says bitterly.
Caroline Kiprotich, a second year student at Moi University, says she would focus on attributes such as intelligence, good looks and good manners in her future partner.
According to her, only older men can be said to be economically stable today.
"What parameters do you use to gauge if a man is stable financially or not? Some well to do families have debts that are bigger than the value of their assets combined with those of their neighbours," she says.
"Furthermore with all the alarming level of joblessness in our country, how do I expect to be married to a young man who is financially stable?"
And not all men are fake tycoons who seek every opportunity to prey on miss ‘lonely-heart’. According to a social scientist at a local university, some women are lucky. "They date different interested men, weigh them up, then make an informed decision on whom to settle down with," he says.
Mercy Nyaguthii, a 33-year-old happy mother of two, says she met her dream husband after assessing a pack of men who were interested in her advert. According to her, she expected her good looks to draw a lot of good-time and fun seeking men because she had placed an advert that had her recent photo in the Internet.
"Since I wanted a serious and mature life-long partner, I even employed someone to spy on those who bragged they were working with big companies," she says.
"It is a part of one being honest with what she needs in life," quips Faith Karimi, a hotel manager and a mother of two. "Most men do not know what they want in life but only beat about the bush. Women on the other hand are straightforward and open," she adds.
John Mutugi, a businessman and a father of two, blames the society for prioritising material things. "Every aspect of life is turning out to be capitalistic. I’d hate to learn that my wife chose me because I was faring on well financially," he says.
According to Michael Muriithi, a financial adviser with an NGO, financial stability should not be looked at from a single-lane
perspective. He says that gone are the days when women looked at their husbands as the sole breadwinners for the whole family.
"Those are outdated notions when you put into consideration today’s reality. Some of today’s women are capable of bringing a bigger portion of the pie to the dinner table than their average earning men," he adds.
According to Michael, when people become a man-eat-man society, men will always strive to survive, lest they be declared extinct by the sperm banks.
"In fact, some of these women who fuss about stability are broke. Do they even stop to ask why they are so broke in the first place?" he asks.
Caroline Ogot, a 26-year-old banker, agrees with Michael. She says it is unfair to discriminate against a person who loves you just because he is broke.
It is better to focus on building your financial base together from scratch instead of wallowing in wealth that you have no pride in and cannot claim if anything happens to your man.
When Njonjo almost resigned over coffee smugglersKnown as the era of black gold, it began in 1976 when Ugandan farmers decided to sell their coffee in the private market.
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