Dear Njoki Chege,
First off, I am not your Fan. I am just another internet savvy user who has the absolute displeasure of stumbling upon articles you have written, quickly skimming through them and moving on to more entertaining, informative and educative feature pieces. However, it cannot escape me that you are now writing for one of Kenya National Newspapers. Good for you. That is a quiet a fete. What perturbs me though is the fact that you have taken your own issues and misplaced (negative) outlook of life, and are now using the right channels to drum the wrong gospel to a very impressionable audience. Someone has impressed these notions on you and you’ve now taken it upon yourself to judge and condemn people, and journeys that you know nothing about. How naïve! Yours is a pavement and biased judgment. I see you as a bully with no empathy or compassion for putting other’s down. It is all about the stats and maybe the paycheck for you, at whatever cost. I get you. It is a jungle out here. You have put your opinions of marriage, women, cheating spouses, SAHM out there for us to read, ponder and react. I respect that. So sit tight as I a mother, wife, journalist and feminist rubbish your words and perhaps teach you one or two lessons on marriage, respect, common courtesy and growing up.
You see it is very easy to laugh, condemn and be utterly sarcastic to others when you have little basis of what their life story is all about. It is easy to sit behind a computer and punch in words of a life that you have not lived either based on experiences you have overheard in a bar or whatever social circles you roam. It takes a conscious mind to do some meaningful research and turn them into a well-meaning article that will be read by people from all walks of life. You are young, unmarried and ‘free’. You are the Zebra teaching the Lion how to hunt. Your words are shaped by your own worldview and experiences. The undertones of your rhetoric come across as bitter, subjective, delusion and so out-of-touch that one can only mutter to themselves, ‘oh the folly of the sassy, sarcastic, insulting young city woman whose journey has just begun!” Such irony.
I don’t know much about the upbringing of a city girl seeing that I grew up in the countryside. From your articles, though, this city girl sounds like all talk no action. She is speaking on behalf of the philandering man and justifying his wayward life. Back in the village, men in bars used to talk about the latest ‘kahawa or chai bonuses’, their wives, acquired land and mostly local politics, down to the local chief issues. Interestingly, the city men look like they sit in bars and open up to the ‘independent’ lady sipping on her expensive cocktail bought with her own hard-earned money, about their marital problems.
Talk of a writer’s goldmine. From here you gather your data and use it to point fingers at women and blame them for their husband’s clandestine affairs. Men must love you – to them you are better than a priest or their male friends. You understand their problems; one because you are a single woman, and you are also in a position to write and give their wives a solution to the unspoken marital woes. You must be the most sought after male companion. I picture all these men hovering around you, pouring out their marriage problems, describing in detail why they slept with the secretary or the ‘pretty young thing’, and you the ever listening journalist nodding your head in empathy as you take mental and actual notes. At the end you promise them a solution. A way out. You are going to write their story and reach out to wives with the sole message that they are to blame if the man cheats.
The men retreat to their seats, order another drink for themselves and an expensive cocktail for you (which you decline because you don’t mix work with pleasure…and of course you are an independent woman), they thank you heartily and express their full support for your endeavors. They are absolved off their sins and you have bagged your next story. Perfect win!
You call women fat
Now that is just rude. Someone didn’t teach you manners. There is a difference between being forward and being curt. Rude people are more disliked than ‘fat’ ones. These plus-size ladies have their own stories to tell, which if you did some research, you would discover that theirs is either genetic or a constant weigh loss challenge. However, you are a lazy writer only keen to tell one side of the story. And bullies like to call others fat to validate their own body image issues. Bullies also like to get attention and they will use whatever means and ways necessary to pass their message across. Sadly, you are using the national newspaper to serve this purpose.
Whatever issues you have with plus-size ladies does not give you any right to pen it down and blame them for their men’s philandering ways. A cheating man will dip his penis in anything outside his marriage, whether he is married to Miss Universe or the local ‘Mama Mboga’. A Faithful man on the other hand, will stand by his wife through ‘thick and thin’ because he knows her journey and he appreciates that the body you called ‘ugly, unsightly and unheavenly’ is the one that carried and nurtured his children. He will lift those ‘flabs and folds’ and love her like no other man can. And yes, such men do exist, but you won’t find them at your local bar.
See Njoki, I was once very petite with what I called perfectly placed breasts. Then I got pregnant, had hyperemesis gravidarum (a pregnancy condition that Kate Middleton had too), lost 25 per cent of my body weight. After baby came. I ate, to sustain myself and my ever hungry son. I followed my doctor’s advice on not too worry so much about the kilos packing up, and I was ok with that as long as my child was healthy and fed. I drunk up the fermented uji that my mother served. Actually, I had a 1.5 liter thermos next to my bed for midnight snacking, because in our culture such feeding from those looking after a new mother is an expression of love. And boy, did I gladly accept that unconditional love. Naturally the kilos went up. My baby belly took its time to return to the pre-baby shape, my breasts drooped. I acquired stretchmarks from the expanded and retracted belly, which your ignorant-self describes as marks resulting from eating like a ‘pig’. This was, and still is, my 4th trimester body. It is a testament to a journey that I have a taken. The priceless journey to motherhood.
But you know what, your loathing words only reflect the kind of person you are inside. These women you call fat have come to love their bodies. I see some of them every day working so damn hard to lose weight so that they can fit a certain social perception of what is beautiful. The kind that you negate as fat and ugly. I am proud of the mother’s out there who look themselves in the mirror see past their sizes and bring out what you scoff off as ‘inner beauty’. These women have learned that character is more endearing than their dress size. They do not have to allow discriminating and excluding people like you to stand between them and their happiness.
Njoki, I assume that you are yet to have children, if you ever want them, but here is something you and women and men of your kind should know. Do not laugh at and mock fellow women unless you have an idea of what their life story is about. Do not go about assuming that your shallow worldview fits into everyone‘s outlook of life. Do not throw rocks when you live in a glass house. Everybody is entitled to self-respect.
The nagging fat wife
Hey, why are you, a single lady, drinking with married men? I forgot. You are their self-described priest-writer-shrink. What an honor! This man has opened up to you that he cannot stand his wife’s nagging. She is calling him endlessly, disrupting the stimulating conversation that you two are having about her ‘physical unattractiveness’. Your words. Not mine! This brings to mind the age-old adage: “Women are their own worst enemies.” If I was seated at the bar with some married man, which I don’t, and his phone kept ringing off the hook. I would be curious to know why he is not picking up unless of course the two of us are having a clandestine evening and those phone calls are disturbing the flow of fingers, I mean conversation. What you assume is a wife nagging her husband could be a genuine case of a reckless man who left his family without any money for food and chose instead to splurge it on some ‘city girl’. Men are known to do this aided by their ‘mpango wa kando’ dates at the expense of his family’s well-being.
Next time you think that a woman is nagging her husband, look at him directly in the eye and fish for the truth. Not his truth but the real one. Then write about that because you have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. A man or woman will cheat on a loyal spouse just to boost their ego. He could have married a perfect career minded, Martha Stewart-in-the-kitchen, intelligent, educated, raunchy in bed, faithful, independent woman and yet, he will still cheat on her with some dumb city college girl. What a man does with his wandering penis is NOT a reflection of his wife’s worth, her appearance or nature. It is merely a means of him letting out his own low self-esteem and blaming the wife for it. People like you only validate such men and give them more reasons to keep cheating. Unfortunately, we live in a society where HIV-Aids is rife and woe unto the loyal ‘fat and nagging’ wife when her husband’s philandering catches up with them in own their marital bed.
Mothers with tasteless fashion sense
I never thought a time would come when I could pass up buying an expensive dress so that my husband and I can save up for our son’s stroller or daycare fee. Before motherhood, I came first. My needs had precedence over other’s needs. Now that I have a child, his needs surpass mine. You have no idea why that mother still wears the same ‘drab jeans’ or ‘stinking weave’. It could be that she cannot afford a new one. Simple. Raising children is expensive. You would know if you were a mother. Talk to some of your colleagues and find out why they cannot afford a push-up bra to show some cleavage yet their children have three meals a day, new and fitting shoes, and a warm bed to sleep in.
You will discover that these women with a tasteless fashion sense have streamlined their priorities. They would rather be deprived, not show ‘any leg or skin’, but invest in Sacco’s and Chamas so that they can protect their children from the effects of rapidly growing Kenyan economy and a stagnant low income. Ask around and you will also gather facts that indicate most mothers would rather go without new clothes, an expensive wig or their own entertainment in order to provide a decent life for their children. This is the ultimate price of motherhood.
From one woman to another
Back in the day when I was single and without child, I had my own naive assumptions about marriage and family life. Many of them were shaped by a collective worldview that wasn’t very positive. I see Njoki’s reasoning and can relate to it from back then and how misplaced it is now that I’m no longer single. One thing is clear though, only the writer knows why she chose the particular ‘city girl’ approach. As a mother, I found the article in question to be very disrespectful, sexist, myopic, demeaning, insensitive, shallow and ill-researched. The undertones of this particular rhetoric come across as bitter and scorned. However, I have no problem with anyone using their blog to vent, ramble and rant but when they take all that to the main newspapers, then something is amiss! I respect freedom of the press as long as it bears responsibility. This writer is preaching a very dangerous gospel to a young society that is already so impressionable by what they see, read and hear in the media. Garbage in. Garbage out.