As we sat down gulping our beers and discussing politics at the popular local, time as always was flying at high speed. This happened years ago. It was a week day and I remember telling my friend several times that we should start heading home. No need to upset our wives I told him. Glancing at my watch in shock just then I realized that it was already 2am.
That last statement had quite an effect on my friend more than what time it was. He demanded to know who the boss was in my house and I tried to explain to him that being a boss came with responsibilities. He reassured me loudly that if I was scared of my wife he would take me home personally and do the explaining on my behalf. He proceeded to order two more rounds since that issue was now settled.
Our local wasn’t too far from where we lived and in those days Kenya was much safer than it is today and so we staggered home and reached his gate a handful of minutes to 4 am. He suggested that I give him a few minutes to pop in and then he would escort me home as promised. I agreed confident that since he was known to my wife there would be no problem. Immediately he started knocking on his front door I knew something was terribly wrong. The knock was so timid that you could hardly hear it in the quite of the night. I assumed that his wife was asleep and she was never going to hear it. I was just about to move forward to give the door a proper knock when the door swung open violently.
“Hello mama Shiro.” I piped confidently expecting to see the usual warm smile. Instead there was a cold stare and she pointed her finger at me, “YOU!!!” was all she said before grabbing her husband by the collar hurling him inside the house and slamming her front door shut.
Inside I could hear a scuffle and my friend’s meek voice pleading; “please mama Shiro.” The English promptly turned into Kikuyu (most of which I understand). She hurled abuses at him at him while doing something violent to him (I have never been sure what exactly).
I walked away quickly to face my own wife’s wrath.
I learnt an interesting lesson that day. And that is whatever you do, never believe what your friends tell you about their personal lives when you are drinking. In the bar all men are total men who rule their houses with an iron hand and where wives do everything as commanded. And as one man told us in the bar those days with a straight face, when he needs what a husband needs from the wife at night, all he has to do is clear his throat and his wife is ready to deliver. That sounded more like slave trade to me but most of all I have always suspected that it was pure fiction. Designed only to entertain drinking buddies.
All these memories have come flooding back with the national debate that has been going on since last week about Kenyan men who regularly receive a serious beating from their wives. We are told that women from Central province lead in husband battering and especially a place called Nyeri.
But what most Kenyans do not realize is that at least two out of the three Kenyan presidents we have had so far have had some very tough women for wives. The late Lena Moi caused such a serious fracas at State house Nakuru during a state function in the 1960s that Moi was forced to get rid of her from his life and although he supported her until her death shortly after he left office in 2002, the two never lived as husband and wife again. Observers hardly fault Lena who was said to be a very religious woman and blame it all on Moi who was having an affair with a Kikuyu police officer at the time. He did not realize that Lena had already heard the whispers and carelessly decided to have a dance with the said woman. Lena saw red and even efforts by President Jomo Kenyatta to cool things off by insisting on dancing with her had no effect whatsoever.
Mwai Kibaki’s suffering for many years in the hands of Lucy Kibaki is well known. But what most people find unacceptable was the fact that Lucy was known to jeer and mock Kibaki’s many unsuccessful efforts to become president of the country but was quick to rush to his side at State House shortly after he was sworn in as president. The wife who had helped poor Emilio retain his sanity all those years, Mary Wambui (Kibaki’s second wife) was shoved to the sidelines and to make matters worse was denied together with her children on national TV during prime time viewing.
Tough no nonsense women have been with us in Kenya for a long time and there is really no reason why the press should make such a big fuss about them now, as if they have suddenly sprung up from nowhere.
Indeed the point that everybody seems to be missing is the fact that most Kenyan men find tough women extremely attractive and very sexy. Almost irresistible. There is no feeling that comes anywhere close to that of conquering a tough man-beating woman and seeing her finally surrender to your charms. Those who have tamed wild horses will have an idea of what I am talking about here.