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Why is the young Kenyan man so angry?

Saturday September 14 2019

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Parents must teach their kids about sex and let their sons know that they should never force themselves on a woman, sexually or otherwise. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SONI KANAKE
By SONI KANAKE
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You may have spotted him at your estate's wine and spirits joint, or perhaps read his profanities on social media, or heard his view through a misogynistic popular song on the airwaves, a club or matatu.

We are talking about the ‘angry young Kenyan male'. What makes this man so frustrated and can his situation be redeemed?

They are young, agile, eager, tech-savvy and care a lot more about what people think more than their fathers ever did.

Most are broke, a number are still crashing at their parents or living cheque to cheque. We are talking about the millennial man; that ‘woke’ man between the ages of 22-37, who is the pulse of the workplace today.

But this is not about profiling this man. It's about why many at times, this man has come across as angry and has routinely sparked debate on the ‘boy child' crisis and got feminist screaming about ‘toxic masculinity'.

FEMICIDE

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It was not until the height of the femicide extremity in Kenya a few months ago that many started paying attention to this emerging young man.

A man who is passionate about his football club loves avocado, is keen on Instagram selfies but at the same time is easily outraged and strongly prejudiced against females to a point of resulting to murder when he doesn't get his way.

The trolls, the heartless comments, the cheerleading on social media, when several young women were murdered by their alleged lovers was eye-awakening to many. The word "axe" seemed to gain a whole new meaning overnight.

‘What makes him so angry?' ‘What did women ever do to him?' ‘Who hurt him?' most wondered silently.

So we dared to explore the issue, gathered a few young men and asked them the hard questions. Here is what they had to say:

Mufasa Poet (Ken Kibet), poet, 28

"I am a full-time performance poet and I use poetry to sensitise society on the issues affecting us.

My frustrations as a man began when I was at university. I was still young and full of dreams. I quickly realised that things were not as I had envisioned.

Suddenly, people judge you by what you wear and what you can afford. You then realise dating requires money and yet you are so broke.

Society judges us men by what we have. ‘Kaa Sina pesa' (If I don't have money), who am I in society? There's no pride in that.

I also feel that men take longer to self-actualise. Young men are the face of joblessness.

As a man, I have to wait until I am financially stable to marry by which time most girls my age might have already been taken by financially stable older suitors. This can leave one angry and bitter with life.

Most people assume that a man is fine and needs no support. Nobody cares who you are or what's within you.

MATERIAL WORLD

I could be a loving, caring man who loves dogs and kids, but I will still amount to nothing as long as I don't have money.

It's a sad reality, but our society celebrates those men that are making it in life. It is a material world. But where does that leave the ones still struggling to get a footing?

Most families do not cultivate friendship within their units. I've noticed that most of my friends who are friends with their parents usually turn out differently.

Most of them are loving and warm unlike those who have no close relationship with their parents.

Most of us do not talk about our challenges. We either bottle it up, sink into depression, resort to violence, have verbal outbursts or commit suicide.

I know that men have been socialised not to cry, but whenever I felt overwhelmed, I would cry during my performances on stage or during interviews and get relieved.

My outlet allows me to cope with my challenges and to be who I am.

FAMILY LIFE

We should take responsibility for not being an active part of raising this boy.

Many parents leave their kids to be raised by other people and complain and judge them later.

Society has conditioned us to think that men are dogs and sadly most men subconsciously live up to those tags. We need emotionally balanced men, so this approach must change.

What is love? Today it is all defined in material terms. In my opinion, love is 'to die for' not to ‘kill for'. At times I sympathise with my fellow men.

You will find a young man sacrificing to educate the woman he loves, buys for her what she needs while in school only for her to leave him after graduation.

And probably the money the poor guy used was a loan he had borrowed, so he is left with a broken heart and a loan to repay.

Some men cannot take the betrayal and may end up killing the woman.

PERCEPTION

As boys, we do not know how to give love or receive love as we've been conditioned that men love with money.

You cannot love the woman of your dreams if you are broke, which leads to more frustrations. You simply move on.

The demands on a man are immense. You and your wife could be earning the same salary but as a man, you are still expected to contribute more.

There is no room for failure in a man's world. The question we should be asking is: What's wrong with men, not what happened to them?

A strong supportive system from home makes all the difference.

Let's stop the blame game, take time to understand the issue and address the root cause."

Fidel Shammah, aka charisma, artiste and lawyer, 25

"Millennial men are not used to rejection. Growing up, most people my age were used to getting everything we needed from our parents.

If the parent said 'no', we perceived them as not loving. And even then, most times we would manipulate them until they said 'yes'.

Unfortunately, this created a sense of entitlement and most still don't understand that when a woman says 'no' to them it means just that.

The music we listened to was laced with profanities and had lyrics that demeaned women, often referring to them as 'b******'.

This led men to think that women were inferior people while men were the rulers. So when someone says 'no' to this man, he either becomes violent or in extreme cases commits suicide.

Sadly, a large number of men in my generation have little regard for women.

We need to teach kids from a tender age that there is a 'no' and a 'yes'. Let them understand that it is OK to be rejected.

MANHOOD

Parents must teach their kids about sex and let their sons know that they should never force themselves on a woman, sexually or otherwise.

The most frustrating things for men my age is money, careers, and love. Every man wants ‘dame mwenye hana stress' (a woman who will not stress a man).

It is the 21st Century but society still expects the man to pay all the bills. And women put pressure on the man to conform to this.

If my friend takes his girlfriend to Dubai for a holiday, my girlfriend will expect the same of me.

‘I wish ungejikaza,' she will tell you. This kills a man's ego. A man just wants peace and respect."

Misare Njagah, advocate, OMA-LAW LLP, 28

"For a boy to grow up in a balanced way, he should have a responsible father figure who can teach him how to be a man.

Today I feel most of my fellow men are frustrated because the women in their lives want to feminise them.

A woman will ask you to be in touch with your emotions yet when you do so, you are told 'acha umama' (stop being a sissy).

When you face problems, a woman will tell you to 'cry it out'. That is not how men resolve issues; we talk to fellow men to get logical solutions.

Most women assume that men do not talk about their problems. On the contrary, men have no qualms opening up in a safe environment where they will not be judged.

The truth is that men want to be understood by women.

That's why five of us formed 'Man Cave', a YouTube channel that encourages men to open up and also addresses thorny issues affecting them.

Men and women are wired differently yet women want us to be like them.

GENDER

Society still expects the man to do everything for the woman, but it's the 21st Century and I feel we should share the roles.

Women today also earn. I would rather do for my woman what I enjoy doing than to feel compelled by society.

Women tend to trash gender roles when it suits them. They will want you to assist her in the kitchen and do other 'feminine' roles but when it comes to settling bills, it becomes a man's role.

Another thing that frustrates and angers men are wrong labelling of manhood by women like, 'Men are trash', ‘men are dogs', ‘men just want to have sex'.

Even the good ones are condemned. These labels feel like attacks which a man cannot escape from.

A man’s validation should not come from women. Men should get together more often and reaffirm themselves.

Men should also take up the role of mentorship actively and teach young boys how to be men.

You see, the good men in our society are quiet while those with questionable morals and value systems are shouting from the rooftops and thus end up being hero-worshiped by our generation for all the wrong reasons.

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