Gentlemen, Embrace Work-By Edward Maroncha

Part of the feedback I got from last week’s article, Women, Bring your Money, is that some women are already at the table. But there is a problem. They are sitting alone. The men have left the table. Or they were probably never on it in the first place. Okay, some men. Not all.

Now, I don’t get the concept. A grown up man who refuses to work so that he can live off a woman. Okay, I allege to be a feminist. Meaning I believe that women are just as human as men. And I am open minded about many things. Wife earns more than me? No problem. Wife has higher academic qualifications than me? No problem. Wife becomes a celebrity? No problem. And the reason is simple. I grew up under the watchful eye of two women, and I saw their abilities up close. My mother and my grandmother. My grandmother, in particular, is a lioness. She held the family together when my grandfather jumped ship. She fought battles to ensure her brood grew up and safely left the nest.

This is the woman who molded me. But even she would get a heart attack if she heard that I have decided not to work anymore so that I can live off my wife. Okay, that’s is a lie. She would not get a heart attack. Such small things do not bother Mrs Maroncha thaaat much. She would probably just bring herself to Nairobi and give me one looong lecture. In her younger days she would probably come with a whip just in case talking took too long. But she is 80 now. That option is no longer available to her.

But there is something I need to get off my chest. House husbands. Like a couple sits down, weighs their options and decides that it is best if the wife works and the husband becomes a stay at home dad. Not working from home, which is a totally different concept, but not engaging in gainful employment so that he can mind the home and the children. If that is a mutually agreed decision, I cannot fault it. I cannot judge the man. Because running the home is also work.

But I will admit that even with all this feminist hullabaloo, I will never be a house husband. Because deep inside me is a very conservative Meru man. Do I want to be an engaged dad? Yes. Which is why I need my little kiosk to pick up so that by the time the children come, I am not bound by the 8-5 rules. That way, if I am called for a Parents Day, I just organize my diary and go. If I need to pick them up from school, I just leave at three and continue with my work later in the night after they have slept. But quit working and stay at home cooking, washing and watching Afro Sinema? No way.

The men I am addressing in this post are the lazy type who refuse to work so that they can live off their girlfriends or wives. And I am using the word ‘refuse’ because I am conscious of the fact that sometimes life can give you a blow and you find yourself temporarily out of work. That is fine.

First, there is dignity in work. The very fact that there is something you are doing, gives you some sense of purpose in life. The very fact of waking up to do something is fulfilling. I remember I stayed at home for about 5 months after campus before I got my first internship. Now,  the first one week was fun. Sleeping late and waking up late. Binge watching series and reading all the books I could lay my hands on. But after that it became depressing. Especially after my then housemate, Major, got an internship in a law firm. Dude would wake up every morning, put on a suit and go away to work looking very important.

During the day the entire estate would be quiet. Children are in school. Men and women would be working. The only people around would be house helps, and yes, they would also be working. Even the time they would be gossiping with each other as they went to buy vegetables. Because gossiping is part of their job description. It was depressing. You cannot visit anyone because they are at work. And when people ask you what you do, or where you work, the Holy Spirit descends and you start speaking in tongues. Point is, there is some level of dignity and self-respect that work gives you.

Then there is money. Let us be honest. It is humiliating not to be able to pay your own way. You know, even basic things like airtime, fare to move from point A to B etc. I am told some men refuse to work then demand up-keep from their wives with a straight face. Let us be honest here. If you are in a temporary situation, it is fine. A good woman will support you until you are back on your feet. But if it is a character trait, you will lose her respect. Forget whatever she may say when romantic hormones are raging. If you are not bringing anything to the table, your respect is gone. It is a universal concept. Which is why American Ambassadors lecture our leaders like babies (Who remembers Micheal Ranneberger?) Because they have money, we don’t. They give us aid, so they have no reason to respect us.

What I am trying to say in so many words, gentlemen, is that just because we are asking women to come to the table doesn’t mean we shirk responsibility. When I say that I have no problem with my wife earning more, that is not to say I am going to be a lazy lout. It simply means that I focus on being the best version of me, instead of jealously competing with her thinking that I should outdo her in everything just because she is a woman.


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