Photo: The late Mercy Keino, Caren Chebchumba, Mary Ngumbu, Cheryl Kitonga, Sharon Otieno and Edina Nyainda Atieno
By Bantu K
When I was a child I thought that adults know everything, only to grow up and find that 40-year-olds are clueless just like Grade 3 pupils.
and that’s why I don’t buy this “consenting adults” dogma.
For starters, it’s perfectly okay for a girl to want an older man, and I don’t have any problems with a woman marrying a younger man. A woman can as well marry two men if she has the resources to cater for them and a politician can fly around with a campus girlfriend and pay up for his sins through a generous donation to build a church in the countryside.
But these decisions do not represent freedom.
Relationships between two parties are not placed on a level ground and hegemony plays a big part in how people relate. For instance, China and Kenya have a relationship that puts us on the receiving end. It’s like a teenager with access to Tala loans who takes them as long as the app allows him to, without giving a hoot on repayment.
The China-Kenya relationship is an ideal sponsor-type arrangement where we sell our soul by taking loans whose rationale is provided by China. So far we have seen Chinese people hurling racist insults to us, even calling our president a monkey. And we can’t do anything about it because we secretly know that we need China more than they need us.
Normally, a pregnancy is a source of excitement, even when there was a little bit of mis-timing (and happens a little too often). In a balanced relationship, a girl announces her pregnancy results and you both go to CJ’s along Koinange and indulge in junk before going ahead to imagine toys and clothes for your child.
In a situation where a relationship is based on “China-Kenya” type of hegemony, a pregnancy is a major plot twist and we have seen how girls run out of options once they can’t reach their former lovers. The media becomes the only outlet in an attempt to get support. The problem is that the sponsor assumes that his liabilities end at the point where he hands a bundle of notes to finance your lifestyle.
Materialistic excitement is the bedrock of sponsor relationships, and anyone who ever attended a basic philosophy class knows that man cannot achieve happiness through material means. You will still want more, as you get more, until you realize thar things that make us happy are not captured in price tags or the GDP. These things are honesty, love, friendship, care, empathy and fellowship.
We have cried liberalization and we want to do whatever feels good, and when you point out some behaviors you are called out as a misogynist. But if we can be sincere with ourselves, we can agree that we prefer our daughters to get to a place where they can take care of themselves, and, maybe, make love choices that reflect their status and pursuance of happiness.
But here, we try to rationalize unbalanced relationships that steal freedom from our girls, that lead to death with impunity or death as collateral damage. For Sharon, too unfortunately, it led to an injustice that, as we have seen in our material-class (add patriarchy if you want) society, might never be resolved.
As we mourn Sharon, as we ridicule that Chinese racist, let’s think about the small ways that we lose our humanness.