When Anne Mbugua met Martin Kibet, she thought she had found Mr Right. He was charming, articulate, well-dressed, easy on the eye, had a good job and was obviously interested in her.
But within weeks, she realised that something was not adding up. Martin’s job turned out to be non-existent and although he had a house of his own, he was perpetually at his mother’s.
“He was always too readily available for dates, even in the middle of the day,” said Anne, who was in her 30s.
That, and the fact that he had introduced her to his mother just two weeks into the relationship fuelled Anne’s desire to call off the relationship sooner rather than later. To her, the fast introduction signalled that although Martin was in his early 40s, he was still too dependent on his mother.
“Last I heard, he was living off a girl in Mombasa,” said Anne.
Martin was not a post-adolescent young man fresh out of college, but a man of 40 who, by societal standards, is expected to be financially independent and probably married with children.
Society has a name for these kinds of men — “men children”. They are primarily defined by their refusal to grow up and take on adult responsibilities.
Women are quickly overtaking men in many spheres of life, elbowing their way into what was once a male-dominated world even in the social sphere.
According to the Kenya Economic Survey 2015, in 2014, 154,000 girls were enrolled into nursery school compared to 148,000 boys. In Standard eight, there were 452,400 girls and 446,300 boys. However, more boys than girls sat KCPE (443,000 against 437,000).
In secondary school, while more boys were enrolled than girls, the figures show that the percentage of girls being enrolled was rising faster than that of boys. The trend is the same even in universities.
Even the workforce, especially in the education sector, is pointing towards a more female-dominated space. In 2014, there were 47,701 women secondary school headteachers and only 31,018 males.
Counselling psychologist Josephine Muthamia refers to them as “men in trauma”.
“Men like these are stuck. They are reeling from the high expectations society has placed on them and have retreated into little self-destructive cocoons,” she told the Nation.
“Their behaviour is characterised by general apathy towards taking up roles of responsibility, for example finding a job or starting a family. Others may be into alcohol and drug abuse.”
According to her, most of the men seeking help from her do not go for counselling of their own volition.
“They were literally dragged in by their parents,” she said.
From those she has counselled, about 60 per cent have gone on to make something of their lives. The rest are still lost in the wilderness of life.