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Lifestyle
Kiambu demographics are an example of male empowerment gone wrong
By Kungu Wanjiru | Updated Jul 09, 2016 at 08:54 EAT

A sad thing happened in my home village. One old man who was among the last octogenarians left standing passed away. Normally, when such senior citizens pass, they don’t attract much grief but in this part we had a reason to grief.

For most of those who don’t know, Kiambu is a place where there is a dwindling population of old men. Old women above the age of 70 outnumber men by a ratio of 10:1 although the ratio is 1:1 in the other age groups.

The girl child in this area has been elevated to royalty status. In my home village last year there were eleven graduation ceremonies and guess what only one was a boy. The boy child has been badly neglected. In all the trading centers in Kiambu, you find hordes of jobless youths idling, gambling, touting or hawking while their female counterparts get busy in cybercafés, milk bars, salons and numerous businesses.

It’s twice as hard for a young man to secure a job compared to a girl. Similarly most NGOs and individuals offering scholarships tend to favor the girl child. They argue that if you educate a girl you educate the whole community a mantra that has been misconstrued to discriminate and demean the boy child.

Signs of neglect of the boy child are everywhere from schools to workplaces. Currently there is more girls’ school than boys’ schools. The trend was started by retired President Daniel Arap Moi to level the playing field but now the balance is tilted in favor of girls. There are now more girls than boys in tertiary institutions.

This trend is replicated in the service industry where marketing and sales departments are major driving forces. These departments tend to employ more women than men (don’t they imply in advertisements that sex sells?)

I don’t know where we got the notion that empowering women means disempowering men. I thought it all had to do with equal opportunity for each and every one regardless of gender, ethnicity, race or other consideration.

The gender experiment was tried out in the police service with disastrous effects. Instead of professionalism and meritocracy taking root, we saw vicious power struggle between police bosses and dereliction of duty and complacency by one.

The police being an operational force and the looming threat of Al Shaabab demanded that one of the two deputy Inspector Generals be at the heart of operation coordinating the operations and updating the Inspector General hourly. The fact is the lady DIG never went to operational areas leaving the donkey work to her male counterpart preferring to work in the serene Nairobi environment and performing ceremonial duties. From then, women’s goose in the police service was cooked.

Back to my beloved Kiambu County where there are few men above the age of 70. Old men are an endangered species, they are almost becoming extinct. In my home village I counted less than ten left compared with tens of old women.

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Like their offspring the boy child, they too have been neglected and shunned by spouses and children in old age. Left to fend for themselves and perform their own chores, they succumb to vagaries of cold weather, hunger and lack of basic medication.

It’s disturbing that respectable women church leaders can conspire to deny their spouses food and turn their children against their own fathers to exacerbate a situation of vulnerability with the aim of accelerating death to unashamedly claim the deceased’s estate.

It’s high time the social fabric in Kiambu was mended. The illicit brew menace is as a result of the desperation of young men arising out of this social disorganization

Taking into account the Kiambu demographics, it’s a perfect example of empowerment gone wrong. The situation needs to be ameliorated to reduce cases of gender based violence that may be perpetrated by men who now feel powerless.

In case you did not know men are willing to die for a piece of metal just for the ego. Maendeleo ya wanaume where are you? Turiguthira

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