‘A man should be bold. Men are not weak, mwanaume ni kuvumilia, hii dunia si ya mama yako.’
‘A man should be rich, you need to have cash to cater for your wife’s needs so that she doesn’t leave you. Mwanaume ni pesa!’
‘A man should have big goals and dreams, you know a woman will be married and there will be someone to take care of her needs. It is shameful for a woman to provide for a man!’
All the above statements are what I call CRAP! These are just but society standards of how a man should live and those who set them are a bunch of old fossils who maybe got land and cattle inheritance from their parents. What do they know about modern living? What do they know about trekking? Having a masters degree and no job?
The person who constantly tells you to man up, will he know how to man up if he were in your situation? I say that there is no template for life. There is no template for a man to live in. There is nothing like ‘Men are and should be like this and not that.’
It is not a must for a man to have accolades and accomplishments to live. A man needs to be able to breathe to live, just like anyone else. A man is not qualified by fancy cars, an amazing house or expensive holidays.
It doesn’t make you less of a man if you live in abject poverty, have no job or are not adorned in fancy clothes. It doesn’t make you less of a man if you still live in your mother’s, brother’s, sister’s or uncle’s house because you cannot afford even the cheapest house rent.
Men mustn’t take drugs or alcohol to meet a certain threshold of manhood. It is not necessary for men to have a ‘boys club’ to qualify them. Many women don’t make a man. Body counts and ‘mpango wa kandos’ (sidechics) don’t enhance manhood. Manners maketh man. It is that simple.
Men cry, men fall into addiction, men are sometimes weak. Men get overwhelmed and feel like quitting. Men get depressed and sometimes indulge in drugs and alcohol. When it all comes to worst, men commit suicide and sometimes murder their wives and children. But our media will have a title like, ‘A man from hell!’
Maybe this man had given up, he had no one to talk to, he was depressed and he had finally thought that suicide was the solution. He thought that leaving his wife and kid in this world in abject poverty will be worse and so he decided to kill them both, to go with them to the afterlife. I am no way advocating for that.
A man, just like a woman has got feelings and they are not to be suppressed. A man, just like a woman can have mood swings and can request for his private space. A man, just like a woman can talk to a fellow man or woman about a ‘petty’ issue that is disturbing him. But the toxic masculinity in our country has made our men weaker, hopeless, and void. And that explains the drug and alcohol abuse, sex addiction, and increasing number of suicides.
Many men apparently get more depressed because of what standards the society sets for them. The society wants them to get married by 35. The society wants them to have built a stone house at home. The society wants them to have started a certain ‘visible’ project so that he can be more macho. This is why the mental health of the Kenyan man is deteriorating rapidly and no one is concerned or talking about it. After all, he has to be a man, men should not cry or be troubled over petty things.
There are tons of organizations for women. There is much attention for the girl child. Most content on the internet is just gossip or articles on wealth and status. Very few will target men because apparently there is no return on investment as they claim there is no viewership or readership when they target men. Can we say the Kenyan man gave up?
Do the many memes ring a bell in regards to men’s mental health especially the boy child? Why do we say that Kenyans are very idle as we laugh along the memes flooding online? Can we say that the stress, hopelessness, and joblessness just make our young people create funny content? Kenyans were ranked as the World’s Worst Bullies on Twitter by a UN body. Ask yourself this simple question, why?
It is because most young people are unemployed. They have all the time in the world to create content. It is what masks their depression. In these Twitter wars e.g. #KenyaVsSA #KenyaVsNigeria go look at the ratio of males to females. Males are more, why? Could they be addressing their pain and bitterness?
It has come to a time when our young men rather lack food than data bundles. The internet is what keeps them moving. No wonder they cannot go back to the village. Some will have their parents ask them, ‘Unafanya nini Nairobi bila kazi? Si uje nyumbani kwanza tujue venye kutaenda?’ (What do you do in Nairobi without a job? Come home first we figure what next)
But they will not want to go home. They will not want to go home with the shame that they were in Nairobi and they did nothing with their lives. They will not want to go and upset society’s standards.
Most men do things because they ask themselves, ‘How will the society think of me?’ Most men fear what other people will say of them. Most men are capped at a standard the society set for them. A man cannot wear pink, a man cannot drive a Vitz nor can he express his weaknesses because it is girlish.
Since they get so much pressure from the society, our young men join gangs of like-minded men and go for road trips to places like ‘Vashas’, drink their lives off and have sex with several girls, after all, YOLO! (You Only Live Once). Sadly, our men are deep in debt, they may have good salaries but are always begging even their village folks for loans as they juggle between their bank, Sacco and Loan apps.
Fellow man, I am writing this because I was here too. I conformed to what standards the society set for me but I realized that I don’t need to club to qualify to be a man. I realized that those who make those standards are also depressed and most have got no direction in life.
Most who say that a man should have done this or that by this age have nothing themselves. Those who have made meaning with their lives will tell you that it is never too late to start, do not compare your level one with someone else’s level 1,000 and do not listen to what negative things other people say about you or your journey in life. They do not know what thorns you have stepped in your journey.
Let not anyone set a standard of how you will live. If you feel you want to drive a pink Vitz, then do it. If you feel like you wanna go back to the village to recuperate your ailing mental health, pack everything and go. Don’t follow the crowd, I say if you want to be part of the 1% don’t do what the 99% do. Change your thoughts, change your life.
If you feel you need change, then take it. A change is as good as a rest. Get a friend, a BFF to be precise. There is that one friend who is wise among you, talk to that person. Tell him about your personal struggles. Even if he doesn’t provide a solution, you have let something out, something that was eating you up.
RUN away from people who do not help you in life. FLEE from people who do not add value in your life. There is no we thing, it is just you. Make positive changes to your life and start moving today, no matter how slow you move it doesn’t matter provided you have taken the first step. They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. Take the first step today.