By Silas Gisiora Nyanchwani via fb
Memo No. 71. From The National Desk Welfare Desk of Men
TO THE FATHERS OF DAUGHTERS
Yesterday, while outside a popular nightclub in Kitengela, we observed some girls going in as we were being frisked.
They wore extremely skimpy black dresses, what Whispers used to call ‘two-stitched handkerchiefs for a skirt’, crop-tops that would pass for bras, or bras, trying to be crop tops, metals were protruding from almost every organ; the navel, the ears, the tongue, the nose, and three of them had graffiti—oops, tattoos—on their thighs, arms, backs, and wore cakes of makeup, to complement their very intentional looks for the night.
Ordinarily, I am in that space where I don’t care how adult women choose to live their lives, vivre et laisser vivre, you know. I am completely disengaged, and I only care about the mental, social and cultural health of my fellow brothers, but my colleague, who is older than me, said something that caught my attention…
“Silas, whatever you do as a father of a daughter, don’t be poor. What we are seeing here is because of poverty. These girls are dressed like this because of poverty. Make sure whatever you do, your daughter doesn’t end up like this because of poverty…”
I instantly understood his fatherly fury. Whereas it may sound hypocritical to be harsh of the young women, after all, we were going to a night club, not a church, I totally knew where my colleague was coming from.
It got me thinking. Someone once said, being a father to a girl or girls is the most uncertain job on earth. He was right on the mark. In Tom Clancy’s Debt of Honour, one of the male characters says, “daughters were God’s revenge on you being a man: you lived in mortal fear that they might accidentally encounter somebody like yourself at that age.”
I read some Mark Manson newsletter where he said that in America, having a daughter is one of the biggest predictors of divorce. Something to do with daughters getting to teenagehood and picking certain things that fathers disapprove of (because they know better as men) and mothers disagreeing (because, freedom of choice). Doesn’t mean that conservative fathers are always right or better than liberal fathers. Another study, altogether.
One thing I cherish the most in my entire long life is my daughter. It helps, she is a playful, active thing, who seems like she will grow to be the life of any party. In the times, I have been sad, or when life doesn’t make sense, she reminds that she is the sense of my world.
But as an adult male, who understands the predatory world we live in, I am constantly worried about her future. I live in a part of Nairobi, where many young women, out of sheer lack of opportunities of meaningful employment, opt for options that would worry sick any father. I am not talking about the so-called socialites, or women who pick certain lifestyles out of choice, or because it looks like it is an easy option. I am talking about girls who have been driven hard into making tough choices.
We are the generation that is dealing with the consequences of capitalism and modernism at their most vicious form. And this calls for a sobriety as we discuss about parenting. This is not a politically correct discussion, where we respect the individual rights and choices of every adult. This is a selfish discussion about wanting the best for your children, be they boys and girls.
So, I dedicate this memo to the fathers of girls:
1. Teach your daughter that she has every right to be here. She owes no one an apology for being here. Tell her, no one should ever have to shrink her existence, make her feel bad about herself, or think she is any less of a human being. Teach her that no one should belittle her, to tune out any misogyny in the world that limits her, and she can be anything she wants to be. And even she doesn’t become the star astronaut or medical doctor, whatever she becomes, she has a right to be here.
2. Make your presence in her life to be worthwhile. That will be her first source of self-esteem. Tell her, regardless of her looks, regardless of her skin, regardless of cognitive abilities, and everything, she matters. That the first person she ever has to prove a point to is herself. To go for the best version of herself, improve what can be improved in herself and graciously accept what she cannot change. You can win everything in the lottery of life. Remind her to be kind to herself.
3. That it is good to like material things. It is good to pursue material things. For the self, or even from the male partners who will pursue her or she will pursue. The key is to know when and where to stop. Hypergamy in itself is a natural and evolutionary imperative invested on women, and there is nothing we can do about it. But it flops, if pursued to the end without checks and a healthy dose of pragmatism. That means, she won’t stick an abusive marriage just because the husband is a millionaire. That means she won’t stick in an abusive relationship because the man manipulated her. That means, she will place values of material things. You can get material things, but there is no substitute for good manners and values
4. Tied to number 3, ensure that you can leave her an inheritance, or prepare her to pay her own bills at the very least, so that her relationship with men won’t have to be purely material. It is good for her to get into a relationship for other benefits besides material comfort.
5. That if she wants to be married or to get into healthy relationship with males, her femininity is what counts. We raised millennials daughters on the wrong premise of equality, and this has been a bad disservice to the educated, corporate women who got the memo wrong that to succeed in life, they have to compete with men. Now, we have women who have 100 things they want from men, but when asked what they can offer, they suddenly realise they stutter. No gender hates competition than men. Men prefer cooperation. Teach your daughter, her best shot in life with men, will come from her utilizing her feminine potential. Femininity is tied to calling a man to be accountable, contrary to the assumption that asking women to be feminine is like being a doormat. Being a feminine is gaming her biology and demanding exactly and proportionately from the man. Of course, with adjustments and compromises. Remind her that men are human beings. Not ATMs, not work horses, but human beings worth of love, appreciation, and kindness.
6. Don’t send nudes or allow a man to record a sexual encounter, no matter what. Remind her, that people out here are sick in the head, and not to trust too much.
7. That however much she will trip, you will be her soldier. But love her enough so as not to normalize tripping.
8. In the likelihood she ends with a man who raises his hand to her, tell her you will be her first defender, and teach her to pick right next time.
9. Remind her you will not defend an abusive boyfriend/husband, because he is rich or because of tradition. But in the same token, remind her that she has to be accountable to her choices and consequences of her actions. Don’t be the father who cleans up after her mess.
10. If she wants marriage, teach her that marriage is very practical. They don’t have to aspire to marriage but if they do:
a) They should learn to be a team player and pull your weight.
b)It is possible to pursue individual dreams, in career, academics, but calls for a creative balance and negotiation. Part of this means helping her to know how to pick a spouse who is supportive. Remind her there are married, successful women, in high flying career. They too can serve as an example, on life, work, marriage balance.
b) Marry young if you can. The so called “party-phase” is not for everyone, though some think it is necessary. What I have observed about the party-phase (or more connotatively the hoe-phase) can complicate one’s life as it makes settling down a tad difficult. And many of this early 30s divorces being instigated by women is because of that phase. That phase creates the illusion of eternal beauty, eternal sexiness, and the illusion of choice but reality is a different beast, and no makeup, no skimpy dressing, no insulting of men, no cajoling, no nothing can change the fact that finding an ideal partner later in life is near impossible, for the marriage-inclined. Party phase is a foolish idea built on the notion that marriage sucks and thus one has to “vunja mifupa kama bado meno iko.” Be real with your daughter and tell her, dating after 30, is full of chlorine and trash. You old enough to know this, no need to sugar coat.
c) You can have it all, but not at the same time. It takes some planning, some compromises, some patience, and a simple understanding that life offers no guarantees, sometimes, we max on the opportunities available to us.
d) There is nothing sexy about co-dependency.
11. In the event, she is super beautiful, with curves to kill and likely to be an influencer on social media, remind her how fleeting fame and clout can be. To build better value, than sharing nudes and her twerking videos. She can find better value in her God-given beauty than twerking her way to fame. Assuredly, you can always study TV girls and see those who made it, and those who ruined themselves. There is a lot to learn about the fleeting nature of fame and beauty.
12. The world still needs, godly, feminine women.
13. In the event marriage doesn’t work, divorce is not a death sentence. You will support and be there for her. She doesn’t have to stick in an abusive environment. Her mental and physical health will remain a permanent responsibility as long as you live.
Regardless. There is no formula for best parenting. Presence, love, provision are a good place to start.
We may not agree on many of these suggestions and that is fine. But as a father, this morning is a call for you to think about what legacy you are going to leave behind for your daughter. Whatever you decide, remember, cold, hard truths is what the world needs, not the comforting lies that lull us collectively as we suffer individually. So, if the suggestions are inadequate, you are allowed to read and research for the best methods. Share with us, as well.
2. Tomorrow morning, I will share statistics of how fatherlessness is ruining our societies. And the case for the presence of fathers in the wake likely separations and divorces. This will cover for both boys and girls. Tune in tomorrow.
3. I have stocked the first volume of Memos (Memo 1-50) with the Book Lounge (+254 713 054505), call every weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can get the Memos and the novel there, plus so many other books. They are along Ronald Ngala, at Magic Business, 3rd floor S46 (where Tuskys used to be.
You can also find the book at Nuriah Bookstore:
You can call or pass by, it is along Moi Avenue, directly behind Nation Centre, Opposite IBEA building.
Keep sharing the message. Spread the positivity.
Have a great and reflective week ahead folks.