One Saturday, somewhere in Westlands, two colleagues and I sat in a circle underneath a huge tented dome away from the scorching midday sun. Around us, a group of 10 teenage boys reluctantly shared their life aspirations. Their apparel was a crazy mix of neon colours, hip and urban designs coupled with interestingly styled Mohawks, braids, dreadlocks and some heavy-looking bling. But behind this façade of colour and swag, we heard unspoken cries through their heartbreaking aspirations and grey stories.
Here is a bunch of young men who dream of living large, Hollywood-style, urban socialite lives, spending crazy loads of money on bling, booze, women and world tours, all without a care! Not as a result of diligence and individual hard work or even talent, but simply for carefree fun, at the expense of some lady somewhere, be it a dangerously doting mother, a strong independent girlfriend or an opportunistic cougar.
Is this moral decay or simply misguided choices owing to the absence of proper mentors?
Behold, the awesome young men of generation Z! Tomorrow people who are inspired by the dramatized flashy lives of TV stars. Boys who aren’t even remotely aware that the role of a man involves being a priest, provider and protector.
You ask where their parents/guardians are. Doesn’t it take a community to raise a child? Oh, I guess not anymore, there are too many predators out there waiting to pounce on the dear babies. Right? Well, the parents/guardians are busy, so busy making money to ensure the lads’ comfortable living. Thumbs up, how wonderful. However, money or material niceties come and go but culture and values last a lifetime.
As indicated by six of the 10 lads in the session, they don’t know how to be in charge and don’t see why they need to work hard because they have seen their mothers earn more, lead, provide for and protect the family, thus will always expect the woman to provide and take charge of everything while they, even as grown men, will simply relax and have fun. Through this, we see the change from patriarchal to matriarchal dominance as well as its ripple effects.
Are the young men confused about their expected roles? Yes! And, in the fight for significance and dominance are the women in society supporting this confusion? Absolutely!
Both genders need one another to succeed. In the power play, we risk misguiding the young because essentially, none is more powerful than the other but together they can overpower any obstacles.
Perhaps by reanalyzing social influences and parenting standards through coaching and mentorship, the future of Kenyan society will be upheld from the most basic unit that is the family, because the two genders seek to support each other through their different roles as opposed to constantly duelling to be the dominant gender.
There is hope for the male child and there is even greater hope and potential in mentoring both genders to merge their inseparable and contradictory opposites so as to develop society in harmony.
Mwende Maritim is a budding freelance writer based in Nairobi, Kenya. She has always had a passion for well written content but began writing professionally in 2014. Her writing mainly covers lifestyle issues and anything to inspire people especially the teenagers she mentors.