To musician Freshly Mwamburi: Stella was too ambitious for you bro
By Brian Guserwa | May 20th 2021
Every year, when the month of May rolls around and the year officially hits the highway, we remember the plight of that nice gentleman who finished last, Freshly Mwamburi.
We remember his selflessness, his determined feminism, and the heartbreak that ensued because of it. We imagine the scene at the airport, with him in a suit, heart aflutter and loins probably twitching, waiting for his lover to deplane. We picture the crowd he had brought with him, drunk uncles and confused children. We cringe at the optics of Dr Stella stepping out of that plane, baby and new husband cowering behind her because she clearly wore the pants in that relationship, and we grudgingly admit that she has balls the size of bricks.
Sometimes, when we are not so emotional, we think about the context of their situation. We wonder why Stella even had to go out of the country to study medicine in the first place, but then we remember how much time our own doctors spend tussling with the government for decent wages, and we give Stella another point for being strategic. It was the ‘tingisha gidole’ government era, we remember. She did the right thing in leaving.
Maybe we ask ourselves what the nature of their relationship was. You see, Swahili is a slippery language. The good gentleman Freshly referred to her as ‘mchumba’, which technically means ‘fiancée’ but could also mean ‘lover’. He had not put a ring on it, is the point. Crucially, we empathise with Freshly, but we smile knowingly at daktari’s actions because we know she did not owe him anything.
She was in a foriegn land, chewing books and looking into chest cavities every day. That was before Facebook and Twitter, so she had no way of knowing what that chap she had left back home was up to. Phone sex was out of the question, too. Naturally, she was bound to get lonely. A woman has needs, ala! Medicine takes half your life to study and qualify in.
The man expected her to waste away her good years just because he had sold his ka-plot? Really?
If we had been a fly on the tarmac, I’m almost certain we would have heard her tell Freshly and his delegation: “I did not ask you to do any of that!” And she would have been right. She did not owe him marriage just because he sent her fare. In fact, the only thing she owed him would have been a mention at her valedictorian speech when she got her certificate. Maybe a fond memory of him, but that was it.
We would have empathised with Freshly, as we do with all nice guys who get shown up by richer, better-looking guys, or even just guys who happen to be there. But we would also have told him that the money he spent on Stella’s fare and upkeep would have been better spent learning Hindu, polishing up his Dholuo and Kamba.
We have vilified the good doctor for too long. I, for one, am thoroughly impressed that she went for a short fella, something these self-proclaimed modern ‘wife materials’ would never do. She championed our cause there, showing the world that looks don’t matter, only love does.
I am also more sympathetic to her brand of feminism than any of the ones I have seen lately, especially online. Why do we even waste time complaining that there are no female role models for our girls beyond Nicki Minaj, Martha Karua and Reverend Natasha, the Lord’s vessel? We should tell them to look no further than the woman who refused to get married before securing the bag, bamboozled fare and upkeep from someone who didn’t know better, and went abroad while women her age were popping out babies and churning out memos on typewriters.
Look, ye ambitious daughters of Kenya, at the woman who knew our medicine was in the pits and flew out to follow her dreams, refusing to let a man stand in her way. Feast your eyes on that goddess, who made her husband move back to her country with her instead of the other way around, and who was not afraid to break off an engagement she made when she was young and stupid. That is feminism. Not DNA tests and demands of child support.
And so, this month, I will pat my brother Freshly on the shoulder in commiseration, but I will also tip my hat to Dr Stella, an absolute tornado of a woman who would have crushed him anyway.
— [email protected]
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