A man from my tribe? Hell no!

A man from my tribe? No, Thank you

A popular FM station had one of the most instructive debates of this decade recently that got yours truly thinking. It was about women hating men from their tribes and instead preferring men from Kenya’s other forty odd tribes. The debate patently degenerated into the chest-thumping on matters sexual as it is common with the now famous breakfast show.

The debate touched on the collective national social psyche. Lately, more and more women are getting dissatisfied by men from their tribes. This might prove a blessing in disguise, the short term setbacks notwithstanding. Women might be just the solution to our crippling tribalism. See, if we all could intermarry, we will water down chances of ethnic strife for the fear of killing our nephews across the boundary. But to positive attributes later.

I recently traveled in bus from a funeral, full packed with men mostly from my tribe. Men from my tribe are boorishly patriarchal and presumptive that a woman is place is unquestionably second. As the stereotype goes, we beat women up, we are hopelessly unromantic and plain suffocating. A debate was started and we had a terrible lashing. But one woman won the argument, simply by arguing louder than us and highlighting her failed relationship with men from my community.

Boy, it was a heated argument. She hated, nay loathed,nope-get me a much stronger term than that-men from my community. It got me thinking about how weighty an issue it has become.

First the stereotypes. Each community in Kenya has been assigned certain social, sexual, political, economical and culturally stereotypes, some of which are evident. The Luos are said to be intelligent, arrogant, proud but with unmatched romantic skills. The Kikuyus are known for their near morbid preoccupation with everything money. Their entrepreneurial skills are incomparable, but they are also famed to be lacking absolute interest in matters bedroom. The Merus and the Gusiis are known for their legendary anger and so forth.

These very stereotypes have been the bane of relationship within tribe. Exposed women feel that they can always get better, elsewhere. The Kikuyu women are better known for their financial independence and are now looking West(read Luo, Luhyia or Gusii) for spouses. Many women from my tribe (Gusii) are demonstrably rebellious once they step out of Matoke land. They found our domineering attitude towards women quite stifling and have increasingly looked elsewhere. Yet Kamba women find our hustling ability and the climate (it rains almost daily in Kisii) very inviting.

So much for stereotypes. For a woman who has made her mind never to date someone from her tribe, the decision is final. They hardly change their mind. Such women have certain set standard that their men must meet before they can settle down. Bu even a cursory glance at inter-ethnic marriages are driven more by certain financial, sexual and romantic expectation. It all depends what a woman has. If she is an independent woman who earns her money, she will be looking for love and vice-versa.

I have observed that their loathing is normally born out of real life experience. It could be that horrifying incestuous liaison at the hands of the uncles. It could the first lover of their life who answered to all stereotypes traded against the communities. It could be that, they believed these stereotypes just too much. And too bad.

While it is a good step forward, women should not blanketly blame men from their respective communities for their woes. Each community has its own inadequacies. I submit that these labels play an insignificant role in a relationship that constitutes mature individuals who know what marriage is all about.

It is about fidelity. It is about trust. It is about tolerance. It is about compromise from both parties. It hardly matters which tribe, race or nationality one dates if one has these qualities. So women should spare us, these shenanigans about men from their tribe not measuring up. They do and that is the sole reason communities exist.

Silas Nyanchwani

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