Women emancipation, which seemed to be reaching a crescendo at the turn of the 21st Century, seems to be punctured by the “sponsor” mentality among young women.
With this particular mindset, the struggle for liberation of the fair gender seems to be far from over. The culture is not only trending in Kenya but across the continent.
For instance, the same occurrences are witnessed in Nigeria (mentor) and in South Africa (blesser). Usually this phenomenon involves old men showering young girls with gifts, holidays, designer handbags and even cash in exchange for sex. It’s a culture of sponsor and sponsee.
To the millennial, the culture may sound a new discovery but the truth of the matter is it's been with us since time immemorial.
For instance, after independence, the culture was referred to as sugar daddy/mummy culture. Presently, the sponsor-sponsee culture seems exaggerated due to the existence of social media and liberation of the modern woman.
Many people have given varied reasons for its emergence: decay in societal morality to breakdown of African social fabric.
But keen observers will notice that this is a crisis of class whereby the middle class is struggling to climb the Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
It is all about ownership of property, which vests a person with the power to exclude others from the property and to use it for personal purposes.
The false impression among young people is that they can acquire material possession and achieve prosperity by simply associating with the rich.
The question on how to acquire the properties including cash, and attain prosperity including status and a name in society according to the “sponsor” school of thought is through osmosis and nothing else! This is the epitome of the menace.
Objects of prosperity do not only stop at cash, cars, smart phones or a name and status but spread to carrying a pregnancy of a prominent personality and even siring a baby with him.
A baby born with a prominent personality means a source of revenue and even a possibility of marriage thus a turning point for status acquisition. This is twisted wisdom.
Sponsorship is different from prostitution. Prostitution is simply the act of engaging in relatively indiscriminate sexual activity for financial gain, with no strings attached and the encounter lasts for a short while which is not the case in sponsorship.
In the latter, there is a false believe the relationship will last for some time even though both parties are aware it will not lead to marriage, there may be cohabitation too. However, both share some commonalities among them body display to attract clients.
The only solution to this illusion is imparting our young people with useful values. Values such as hard work, honesty, respect and self belief.
That life is not lived through an elevator but through the stair case. Values have been left to religious institutions and parents who are not tracking the lives of their children.
A downturn in the economy with no prospects for jobs has led to increased levels of desperation for the young.
Nevertheless, religious institutions are slowly replaced with technology which seems to be influencing the lives of our young people.
To mitigate this let’s realign our religious institutions and the society to changing trends and lifestyles. Failing which the illusion of sponsorship will continue to devour lives of our young ones.
Mrs Dorcas Wainaina is Executive Director, Institute of Human Resource Management (IHRM)