Chivalry AWOL

I have endeavored to keep account mainly about child upbringing and single parenthood to date. However, today I will digress and talk about men and the current lack of chivalry among them.

So much is being said about us women having become so easy to get, loose, immoral etc. However, for every action, there is a reaction. Men today have no qualms about lamenting on and on about how women have worn trousers and taken up their roles.

Harken men! This is a sign that you have so failed to do your bit, that woman- the ever efficient multitasking person- has decided to also do your share of the work; in order to keep the race moving at the rate it should. Surely I imagine, if we women did not take up some of our male roles, earning, child upbringing, decision making, paid manual labor etc, our species would be underdeveloped and maybe under fear of being overtaken by aliens or wild animals. Just my two cents.

Traditionally, men were supposed to hunt, gather food, protect, instruct and guide the woman in family matters. Tradition flew out the window, when men replaced brains with brawn.

All a woman does better than a man, is to think while multitasking. In fact, thinking or wisdom is the basis by which superiority is gained. Thinking and improvising how to keep ourselves and a family, fed, housed, clothed, protected, educated…you get the drift. Just how many able men today, cater for any more than themselves? Women so perfected this takeover role,that many elderly women going back up to two generations, are tending for themselves, and children and grandchildren- to death. Not to add just how many are leaving behind legacies of inheritance, empathy and good morals to their surviving families.

Majority of my assumptions and facts are based on actual situations both here at home and in greater Africa. Similarly I also expect the same applies to other third world countries.

Chivalry. It all boils down to this. According to Thesaurus the synonyms of Chivalry are: gallant, courtly, brave, valiant, loyal, magnanimous, noble, courteous, polite, mannerly, well-mannered, gracious, attentive, considerate. The opposite or anonym is: cowardly and discourteous. I remember in the seventies before I became a teen, I assumed that all men were hard working, well meaning, tough, money bearing and disciplined home leaders. That was a loooong long time ago. Fast forward to 2010. I look around and see so many of my male age mates, with kids dotted along the way. Some looking after none, others some. Many have married only in the past five or so years. A whole many more, are just cohabiting and sleeping with whomever they wish, whenever, and at whatever cost to their lives and those of their families. And, to add insult to injury, no one is batting an eyelid.

We women meet and moan about it, shout out, leave temporarily, invoke family intervention, claw mistresses, and eventually relent to norms of a society going absolutely immoral. Many relent to staying on with eyes shut and hearts shattered. It is not to say that a man who is  chivalrous, would not cease to stray or misbehave. It is only human to err. But the few men worth all our attention in families, society and corporations, employ these virtue in their everyday life. This means that in wooing a woman, caring for one’s home, dealing with in-laws, handling official matters and so much more, one behaves in a good manner. It easy to be well mannered.

beer in a glassThe saying that ‘empty debes make much noise” is so true. Many men have turned themselves into drunkards, unthinking selfish people with little of no care for themselves, let alone others. Take Reuben, who is forty five and has been cohabiting with a woman for twelve years. They have three children, and he, two outside this relationship. They rent despite his ability to have taken a mortgage twelve years ago. He is a total embarrassment to his family and a disgrace to hers. They live from hand to mouth. He is known as the estate ram. Any woman – vendor, other’s wife, housemaid, neighbors’ daughter -is game to him. They only need step in to his local beer den when he is present. His children are fine, thanks to his wife’s ability to trade in wares within the hood, and her micro finance savings in local women’s groups. His compatriots are little better. Yes they may have a bit more stashed up and be more organized, but spending time with family is deemed sissy. Every day without fail, they are at the bar. Many are home only Sundays, to kill a hangover.

I do agree that there are many men out there doing a marvelous job at parenting and organizing their lives and those of their families, but they are the minority. The general acceptance of negative behavior in our lives is eating this society. It makes it that much for easier for youth to succumb to negative vices. Is it a wonder our sons are losing lives and hope at earlier ages? Where are the men to stand up in estates and come up with projects to do general trash collection, weed and drainage clearance and pruning of trees and shrubs; who will lead our sons to repair all fences in one street per weekend in an estate until all are done? Where are the fathers to ensure each local primary school is taught societal etiquette, first aid, or proper virtues, rules and disciplines? Where our male volunteers to ensure those young hot blooded youth are are stopped from wooing maids when parents are away?

Wanaume! Stand up and get counted. Let us see who gets home before his children are asleep at least three days every week. Who goes out with his woman at least once a month, how many have volunteered at the local school or church to train/ advice youth; anyone who has personally taken up the task of thorough cleaning his home as a gift to a tired girlfriend or wife…recently given your woman a total makeover (salon, dresses, shoes, handbags, manicure, pedicure) as a gift? Is this asking too much? do you imagine insisting on everybody in your house saying prayers before a meal, or eating together, or saying thank you to whoever cooked and doing your own share of housework to give your woman(and housemaid) a total day or rest , is asking for too much? Think Again.

We have all been to houses that are literally falling apart because of lack of repairs. Minor repairs. Many men, will afford to spend thousands on personal fun activities, but will fail to buy a tin of paint worth hundreds only, for their houses. It is so cheap to engage a few volunteers, for the price of a meal, to help one clean up his house and surrounding. Three men getting together and a couple of hundred shillings, can clear a lot of sewerage blockages I have seen. I haven’t come across men more hardworking, ingenious and determined like a Kenyan man with a mission. Ok, Americans are quite something else, but Kenyan men still take the cup for ingenuity.

However, because of lack of chivalry, we are making a name as a nation of lazy bozos, inhumane souls and plundering goons. (Note: I am trying to be civil here…..) It is sad how lack of one virtue can cause so much malaise in a society. Heaven’s first law is order- and as sure as we are made in the image of God, we are not going to go anywhere good, without order. Good virtues dictate an orderly manner of living. I am of the old school, which believes that the man’s position is head of house. The reason God forgives us, is so that we in turn may keep forgiving one another. There is still opportunity for positive change. I wish to see my sons grow up to have chivalry as a habit. It’s getting that harder for me to guide them this way, because there are that fewer examples to show them.
I look forward to the day when I can go out on a first date without fear of a man groping at me or asking for sex. A day when I can go for a girl’s day out and majority of what I hear are praises about the men who are seeing and living with my friends. A time when I will keep get positively surprised at a clear drainage, not necessarily done by “kazi kwa vijana” troops. Will it be possible that a day will come when any slum will have a toilet for every single block of shacks? Surely I cannot be dreaming, to imagine that some day soon, my brothers might be known to physically haul out our underage sons from brothels and bars, purely out of desire to maintain order in society? I have a dream that all this will come to be. For the sake of a better tomorrow for my three beloved, I will dare to dream.

Having growing sons myself makes me see a lot of boyishness in all these grown men. They are all so good and hopeful within. Their dreams are currently tethered by frustrations, stress, shattered ambitions and bad habits. Nothing frees a body and mind like some “kazi kwa bidii” (good hard work).It is the magic that keeps women going strong and able to multitask. When a body is busy at work, there is little room for negative thoughts, and a lot of room is created for opportunity to do something more challenging and accomplish it.

Someone stand up for me?

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Emerald Sua is a Christian single mother who prides herself as a voluntary organizational guru for lives, systems, situations and homes.

  • Mia

    OMG. I can’t believe this article. Thank you for writing it. Expect some backlash but stand firm and know that you’re right on the money.

    It seems we’re both experiencing some disappointment in men. Check out my article “Dear Diary: Weirdo!” in my diary “Mia’s Diary.”

    Let’s hope for a better tomorrow with MORE real and chivalrous men and less fake, selfish, self centered…ones.

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