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For single mothers out there: Bad boys cannot bring up your kids, you need real men

By Ojiambo Ainea | January 5th 2021

I recently had a talk with my long-time artist friend Antony Ndung’u, based on what has become of our society and concluded that we are badly in need of mentorship.

Lack of proper guidance is the reason the boy-child is suffering. For starters, today's man is interacting with squad mates who are absentee fathers to their children. You can’t blame single mothers all the time because the truth is they are doing their best in the wake of diminishing numbers of reliable father-figures like uncles and brothers.

Indeed, the number of people, who can mentor someone in the absence of a father-figure has reduced in recent time. Nowadays men in Kiambu have been forced to hire uncles to attend ruracios and weddings after blood uncles got wasted in alcoholism.   

During our days, a child belonged to the society not an individual. In the villages, children were brought up as a group, initiated into adulthood at the same time and bound into eternal brotherhood. In one of my best novels Things Fall Apart written by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo, the main character, is exiled to his Uncle, Uchedu, for mentorship. You don't see this in today’s world.

Take Buru Buru estate where we grew up for instance. Estate courts were more like villages and since we did not have our uncles to offer mentorship, our neighbours took up the role. If you were caught on the wrong side, you would face the music and pray that your parents don’t get wind of your mischief as it would be double trouble.

This is the challenge of raising today's generation. They are no neighbours or teachers to mentor, discipline and instill values in children.

Even when I meet with parents of my childhood friends and neighbours at Kapsiliat court in Buru Buru, I still address them as my parents. I can't talk to them pocketing or with my cap on. Even at my age, I obey when they send me to run errands.

While growing up, I had a mentor and role model in my father who made me a natural economist and I learnt the balance sheet. But I had other people around including Mr William Okumu, who made sure we never visited or played near bars. And there are very many pubs in Buru.

The gentleman bought for us our first leather ball when he found out we had gone to play near Mausoleum (now Taurus Pub). He taught us how men are supposed to behave and the power of friendship.

Mr Kirori taught us how to slaughter a goat and which parts were for men. He instilled life history and how to avoid trouble. I always remember him telling us we should marry women, who were our friends as life is a long journey. Now I'm bending to my fifth floor and actually understand why.

People usually know my presence from the cologne I use. I tell them my neighbour Peter or Baba Ochi was one person I looked up to. He was the neatest gentleman I knew. He made me like white and I carry a clean white handkerchief in his memory.

When it came to schoolwork, Mr Onchiri was there. He made sure we knew multiple tables by heart. He always reminded us education is the key to life. When it came to religion and leading a Christian life we used to go have a chat with Fr. Thomas Burke, whose door was open anytime. We had older people like Ben Ogutu, James “mkubwa” Okumu and Mr Mwendwa, who mentored and talked to us when we went astray.  

Here is my word of wisdom to single mothers out there, who don’t have anyone to mentor their boys. Please reach out to people like us. I am sure most men in my age group will be willing to help because these young men are a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Women, who are not married, just know that many men out there can be fathers but few can be real dads. So, choose wisely.

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