The editor sends a message in the middle of the week. About a picture on whatapp. Have you seen this? The woman in the picture is wearing a gaudy wedding dress with her face covered by a bridal veil. She holds the hand of a little girl dressed for a chilly morning. The little girl has a shortwave radio strapped over her shoulder. In other hand she holds a placard, that reads, “Need for a husband?” Included are, Her name, the full disclosure of child from a previous relationship, her child’s age and her phone number. They are standing in the heart of Nairobi, off Tom Mboya street in one of the busiest parts of the CBD.
What do I think?
Priscilla Nyambura must have a PHD in marketing and behavioural psychology and she is only 27 years of age. By creating a living billboard, she made huge savings and targeted the relevant eyeballs. The decision to include her child in her public bid would serve as a deterrent for men who were not ready be shackled by parenting responsibility. She had clearly thought through and segmented her market by dressing in a particular fashion. Anyone who would not be touched by the portable radio her daughter was carrying, had missed the communication. There was not an inch of bare skin on display giving her a sense of mystique and respectability.
She knew that picture would be worth a thousand clicks. A legion of men who would be drawn to her public wedding theme like millennials to a selfie stick. Her images went viral on the internet within an hour. She became an instant celebrity, a person of national interest. Someone whose profile could be googled and poised for a Wikipedia page. Prayer groups around the country would include her name in their pleas for blessing. She racked up public goodwill. Newfound admirers wished her a happy life, thereafter with husband and child. Just like the Githeri man.
Her silent protest sparked conversation and debate. Society values were questioned. Dress choices. Child abuse. The plight of Single Mothers. The boychild. Deadbeat dads. The economics of marriage. Poverty. Culture. Reversed gender roles. Parenting. Absent good men. She secured a TV interview in less than 48 hours and used the platform to reveal the inner and outer qualities she was seeking in a prospective husband. I suspected a large cast of prospective hubbies dropped out of the running after measuring themselves up to her requirements.
Women are evolutionary inclined to be picky when choosing a partner. The average woman in search of a marriage partner will regularly state that the men in the market for husbands are simply not good enough and below average.
Priscilla remained aware that sometimes men have to be pursued. The problem with hanging back and waiting for guys to approach you, is that you only end up attracting the one you are not interested in.
The majority of men are naturally shy and require permission to approach in a courtship dance. Men respond to signage. It is a visual thing.
She had articulated her need and she roused idle gentlemen around the country. She was bound to attract a man who wanted to save her. Men like to be seen as useful in a marriage and women are encouraged to speak to our latent hero within.
Priscilla said she was jammed with calls and messages. I reasoned she would have to wade through 100s of pranksters, jokers, opportunists, players and sponsors. Eventually, the name list would wilt down to a small group of seemingly upright men. The men who made the hit list would earn the privilege of a face to face interview for the job. The shortlisted candidates would have to satisfy her minimum husband requirements. Finally the top candidate would be allowed to prove his honor by marrying a woman who knows what she wants.
Beyond the theatrics, most people knew exactly what Priscilla Nyambura was looking for. Men are plenty but husbands are little bit harder to come by. This was a call to action. A call for men to step up into a role and do the manly thing of ensuring that she felt secured, respected and her daughter loved. All she was asking for was a committed partner to raise a family with and provide for her child.
Sometimes, we forget that single mothers are just trying to be the best parents. The harsh economic realities of urban life exerts financial pressure on low income single mothers who face real hurdles raising their children without a support system. Successful single motherhood requires a backbone made of steel. Raising a child without a social safety net is not for the faint hearted.
The social plight of single mothers is a topic Kenyans have to stop glossing over.