Sex Is Just The 10 Percent

Electricity has changed nightlife in shags. We do not interact with the night the same. I do not remember the last time I saw a fire fly. Even night runner stories are scarce.  With stima, you can do what you do in your house in Nairobi at night. Watch TV and have all your devices on, tracking trending news.

Since it is a single TV set, my nephews hog it watching one action series after another. On this night, after a long day transplanting veggies in the hot sun, I really needed a stiff drink and a good movie to wind down my day. My nephew insisted the series, he had selected was ‘dope’. I find his taste in entertainment appalling but I was trying to keep an open mind.

I should have read a book. The storyline was going nowhere. The plot was bland, the characters one-dimensional and I wondered why anyone would go through this sort of punishment in the name of entertainment. We ended up enduring the series to trash it, as we do with some Nollywood movies, that are so bad, that they are good. Then a scene came on, and our redeeming actor who played a reckless fun seeker, dragged two high, giggling, women with svelte bodies for a steamy romp in bed. After a few lines of cocaine.

My nephew turned to me and asked, “Is this the kind of fun you guys used to have?”

I wanted to exaggerate, proclaim my ‘badness’ but instead I told him, “I wish”.  I had the same ménage trois fantasies at some point in my life. To have two beautiful women getting hot and bothered and equally devoted to fulfilling your desires is one of the most oversold perks of machismo.  This was just acting and I went on a lengthy lecture of the power of sex scene in cinema and how it was just like a cover model in a newspaper magazine used to lure viewers because sex sells everything, even agriculture.

I was not answering his question. I had switched to lecture mode. My sexual advice to him through his teenage years amounted to,

“If you ever have sex, please use a condom?”

“Do not get some ratchet woman you met in the club pregnant. I am not ready to be a grandfather”.

In short, be responsible.

Sex is natural part of human development but in our society, there is no room allowed for honesty and understanding.

I knew he would have to figure it out on his own like a man because sex was something we never talked about outside of conquests or consequences. Growing up my uncles all exaggerated stories of their exploits and my father was silent. If there any lessons to be learned from their experiences, it would be to learn from their repression of all matters emotional expect anger and address my feelings about sexuality all in stoic stride.

What he wanted was my truth. To tell him where those wild women who were ready for anything could be found? What did one have to do be a desirable male? I felt sorry for this generation of young men.

He lived in a world where sex was all about instant gratification and relentless desire. It was preached that promiscuity was wrong, as was corruption but everywhere he looked it was glorified. What really mattered was not getting caught. Real men broke the rules with reckless abandon and those who held power could get away with transgression. The ones who stuck to one woman, had been trapped, subdued and contained. I suppose, he feared that he would be forced to settle down to one person before he had explored the field and had his fill.

I did not know how to explain to him that desire was a recipe for havoc if it was the only thing between two people. That good sex was really not about performance and perfect bodies.

Sex was so much deeper than what we were taught in the rough school of masculinity. What we saw out here was only the 10 per cent, the tip of the iceberg. The genital centred sexuality where pleasure is good. More pleasure is better.

Sex is natural part of human development but in our society, there is no room allowed for honesty and understanding.

I wanted to tell him that good sex is like an iceberg. We start out by focusing on the 10 percent that is visible on the surface and rarely notice what is under the surface. The 90 percent of persistence, surrender, fear, insecurities, failure, sacrifice and commitment that we go through to sustain an amazing physical connection that lasts beyond the sheets.

It does not involve just swapping of fluids but of feelings and commitment to understanding the roots of one’s desires and coming to terms with one’s own truth. For a man must find his fulfillment within himself before he can find it outside his self. There was no partner out there to complete you and ignite the lost parts of ourselves. That he would have to do himself.

That is how we set our young men to fail. By focusing on the 10 percent and refusing to delve into the 90 per cent that we are left to deal with after the lust has washed over.


Oyunga Pala is a Kenyan writer, curator and editor. This blog examines the texture of everyday Kenyan and African life and the challenges of modernity and disillusion. The writings commonly feature the struggle of the Kenyan male to maintain integrity in contemporary society.


  1. Mama Watoto Watatu

    Oyunga, you have spoken like 100 elders seated on traditional stools facing mount Kenya …….or some other place that holds deep spiritual and societal significance.
    On the same note, I want to thank you very much for adding to my stress
    Now I have even more to worry about with regard to my teenage sons, nephews and their buddies.

  2. Very well said.

  3. Wow Wuod Seme ayie kodi!

  4. Kaimuri Magu

    I used to read your Mantalk articles to bash them. They portrayed a man who could be intelligent, witty, even wise and (finally) just plain manly, but who mostly went the easier way- deciding to be otherwise of what men should be reading. I stopped for a few months, then you weren’t doing Mantalk anymore… I am pleasantly surprised. You have spoken with the wisdom that was always lurking behind somewhere, and I hope now that the diagnosis has been made, we can reclaim our sons, maybe their fathers too. Thank you for this article.

  5. E. Nyachwaya

    To have two beautiful women getting hot and bothered and equally devoted to fulfilling your desires is one of the most oversold perks of machismo.

    This sentence here jumps at every man.
    And I like the layout of your webiste.

  6. Very well said. I completely agree, largely the young ones are being taught how to fail. Girls are not left out either. When their idea of beautiful is posing for selfies with duck pouts, overmade faces and tight clothes; we are ´teaching´ them the 10% bit of it.

    I am enjoying your pieces a lot.

  7. Even I’ve learned something today. I feel less pressure. I’m ok.

  8. This is very good. You are answering society’s need for lasting values in a most unexpected but welcome way.

  9. Hi OP.
    Very wise words there.

  10. Words of wisdom

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