Last week fellow columnist at The Citizen, Abdi Sultan, highlighted a wittily, lightly written topic in his Man Talk. Four women at the bar laughed at a guy who seemed to shy away from sitting with them.
Brother Sultan reminded us that the type of drinks being consumed on the table were quite costly shooting from Sh3,000 onwards, in value. An expensive sit-in, in other words.
Their jeering was thus described by the veteran sub editor: “It is after the guy leaves that one of the ladies spills the beans. ‘I had a date with that man. I am sure he believed he would find me alone...I am sure he got scared when he found the four of us together, he won’t come back...”
The quartet, subsequently: “burst into roaring laughter.”
Brother Sultan’s article cried for intense reflection.
Hurled me to the times when a date with a woman meant money oh money, oh money – money. When men had to give many cows to marry. Days when women just bore babies, cooked and stayed in the house.
Men were MEN; men were THE breadwinners. That has changed in most parts of the planet ...women have changed, they get formal education, work, make money, AND CALL THE SHOTS.
According to Forbes, in 2019, there are 244 female billionaires worldwide, a figure that rose from 242 in 2018. Compared to the number of male billionaires (2,153) in 2019, nonetheless, rich women are fewer. Still, the figure keeps rising. In 2007 the total of male and female billionaires was 946. Whereas in 2000, only 470.
Forbes lists the first billionairess to have been a descendant of slaves in America.
Sarah Breedlove lived a hundred years ago, exactly. She “built a factory, a laboratory and a beauty school to train sales agents.”
Now economic wealth might not be a yardstick but helps measure and give us perspective. Are you still reading?
Out of 25 richest African women, some are related to powerful politicians. Angola’s Isabel Dos Santos, (daughter of the ex President, 1979-2017) is said to value 2.8 billion dollars while Ngina Kenyatta (widow of Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta) 1 billion dollars.
Many others are self made like the Nigerian musician Tiwa Sage, said to swim in 5 million dollars, total.
We can keep on jogging the whole day. But the point is the argument that males should foot bills seem to be only in areas where women are either economically dependent, or we should we ask that crucial question. Are they still mentally dependent?
I remember the first time I dated a South African lady (she is long deceased) in Dar es Salaam; late 1970s. We went out and she announced: “Freddy, we go Dutch. You pay half and I will pay half...” I was shocked. But I soon found that was a trend among foreign women, black, brown or white. Then as I travelled to many distant places I learnt that women were really into empowerment and did not stomach the outdated idea of just males paying for them.
Part of it was to do with the rise and surge of feminism. Of women saying ENOUGH! with male domination! ... That they should overcome prejudice. I met women with their own dens, cars, running small and big companies.
Two years ago I highlighted a London based Tanzanian woman who has built her own house - she is not even rich.
Just a hardworking accountant who saves money while raising children singlehandedly.
I have gone out with her several times and there is no way this exceptional lady would jeer and laugh at a guy failing to pay for her beer.
Let us check out this “jeering and laughing” scar.
In the Diaspora it has split into TV commercials poking fun at men. Constantly. Ridiculing males as inadequate. This is also growing in Tanzania where young women are complaining about young males not performing well, sexually.
Young males are watching so much pornography on their phones, that when actual drama beckons they are futile and lost. You Tube and the internet hints at continuous, ongoing teasing of the younger generation of males, i.e. The Swahili slang “Vibamia” (Okra) has mushroomed, as result.
Truth is whether males or females ridicule each other; the outcome is loss for both genders.
In the Diaspora mocking of males has contributed to lower self esteem. Males become depressed easily.
Younger dudes with no good male (father, uncle) role models turn to other things to boost virility and manhood.
The list of inspirational tools includes drugs, alcohol, crime or even resorting to homosexuality as an “easier” option.
This article might seem to exaggerate and generalise but we are living in times of a dangerous backlash. Any liberation is good. And the lifting of human spirit from squalor, misery and oppression will always be fulfilling.
Life is sacred.
Fredy Macha is a writer and musician based in London.Blog,www.fredymachablogspot.