Celebrating East African Writing!

Women, and Elders of the Burning Spear

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence about how women take things easy, while men do not. Like the old gem where women visit men in strange places, trust them easily and fall asleep first leaving their hosts awake! The male hosts are left pondering on their problems while keenly counting the troughs and crests of the iron roofing sheets for lack of sleep.

At a glance, many women are conned in the streets than men on any day. The money doubling “magic” seems to be their waterloo. The sickness pretenders begging for alms who wait at strategic corners also sucker women in droves. Throw in a deliberately malnourished kid next to a haggard-looking fellow turbaned in a “bloody” bandage and women will donate generously with tears welling in their eyes.

It is amazing to see street-wise women sauntering down dangerous alleys in our urban centers where even drunken men would hesitate to step. The way I see it, our paternalistic society has conditioned women that out there are men with “solutions” to all problems. But I would personally hesitate to let loose my “women” to a swashbuckling male preacher with an all-female congregation, as is the reality in church nowadays, despite the “answers” he may have!

The great divide between men and women takes the form of daily war between them. Take for instance when a man is taking a shower in the morning whistling discordantly. This, I admit, is the only true moment of peace for most men before the daily demands start coming. So while whistling comes mama’s ominous knock at the door! She has got out the day’s laundry and she needs the basins from the bathroom.

Without consultation, a lady buys her man a pyjama suit, which looks like the new prison uniform, kunguru. Next she brings him a pair of underwear that is decidedly boyish! It can also be a yellow suit, which reminds one of his primary school mathematics teacher. The fellow who, more than anybody else, conscripted him to a low-status profession because of this teacher’s brutality that made him hate the subject.

Nothing lifts a man’s spirits in the morning better than toasted bread and lightly fried eggs with the yolk flowing. Yet bibi chooses to forget this in a day with apparent calm and normalcy. He might be reprimanded in the evening. “Father of so and so, you never asked for toast and fried eggs in the morning!” Damn it! Even in a pub the barmaids only need to serve a man once to know his particular brand of beverage!

Women’s forgetfulness is legendary going by their visits to matatu termini looking for “a white Nissan”. Cases arise every day at Mtito Andei where more women than men board the wrong buses after a short break. Mombasa bound women often board Nairobi bound buses after a short break. And this they do with their bus tickets tucked in remote corners of their purses, which are in their handbags, which are in paper bags which are in their traveling bags stashed up the luggage carriers of the buses.

The deliberate and thorough shepherding of passengers at airport departure lounges, certainly, ensures that members of the same family don’t end up in different continents! And if the data were to be gathered, the number of local women who can name the makes of their husbands’ cars and correctly give the registration numbers would be so dismal that it would shock this country.

While men can easily forgive these small sins of forgetfulness, many have real issues with ladies who travel anonymously. Such women commute to work daily and transverse the breath and width of this country with no identification papers whatsoever. When accidents happen, the police description is invariably: An adult African female body, Identity unknown.

Come evening and it is time for women to shatter men’s peace. As we guys contemplate a good night’s sleep, comes the shocker: “Unajua Fulani amekufa!” So and so is dead, said just like that!

If it is not death, horrific news that had been gathered over the day is narrated. It could be child abduction or a person willfully spreading AIDS in the neighbourhood. The hitherto inscrutable local clergyman may be gossiped about over his just discovered “terror” on the church youths, especially the girls (and nowadays the boys for variety!).  As men muse over these “developments”, comes the nudge for them to perform their conjugal duties.

We are expected to come out roaring, like Elders of the order of the Burning Spear! But from the foregoing the urge is simply not there. We are spared the verbal accusations of mistresses sapping up all our energy somewhere. But our women’s body language speaks volumes about this accusation. It is another fight for another day. Give us some break dear ladies!

Opinions in this article are the writer’s and not necessarily Storymoja’s


One comment on “Women, and Elders of the Burning Spear

  1. J.Robert Ngugi
    July 30, 2009

    Cograts.Hitting the nail on the head.Hope they are not offended.


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