The common denominator for men and women of my generation, born before 1980, was that no one was above a good beating. Our parents were from the school of hard knocks. They swore by the words, ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child”. I grew knowing my parents wrath came from a place of good intentions. The punishment was structured and one even got to fetch the cane that would be used to inflict pain and deliver a lesson. When disciplining was over, we were reminded that the world would not be so kind. That is what good parenting entailed.
Misgivings have been expressed about the registration of the Team Mafisi Foundation by Non Governmental Board Chief executive Fazul Mahamed. I thought it was a joke. It did not help that the Mafisi foundation is led by a comedian known as Jaymo Ule Msee, who made his name doing parodies on Nairobi’s dating scene. The registration of Team Mafisi foundation at a time when Human Rights organisations are facing harassment and threat of deregistration, is to say the least, another puzzling Kenyan peculiarity. The bounds of absurdity have no limits in Kenya.
If you have no idea what Team Mafisi is, here is the condensed version. Fisi is the Kiswahili word for the spotted hyena, probably Africa’s most vilified animal after the warthog. The term gained traction with social media memes, to make fun of men caught ogling at shapely women in public places. It was harmless chiding in the beginning but unlike fleeting social media trends, it morphed into a mafisi sacco, a group of self identified ooglers who made the hyena their mascot and lust their binding creed. Now there is a legit foundation called Mafisi.
There are too many angry men in this country. I won’t mention names but President Uhuru has been throwing tirades in public and the heat generated by the spurts of anger has had a ripple effect across the land. Anything said in anger will be remembered. In the movies the warning line is, “What did you just say?” and then things get really ugly. A quote attributed to American humorist Evan Esar might be apt for the moment, “Anger is the feeling that makes your mouth move faster than your mind”. But this isn’t about the President. It is about the watus.
A long time ago, there was a student called “Keep Left”. Three years after Keep Left completed high school, his younger brother joined form one, in a different school. One afternoon, footballers from Keep Left’s former school who were the national champions, arrived for a friendly match. The visiting side was dominant and after the game, the young lad joined the queue to greet the champs and introduced himself. “Do you guys know Keep Left?” The mere mention of the name, caught the captain’s attention and when they realized that he was indeed, Keep Left’s younger brother, the visiting team fawned over him.
Keep Left was a real life character. He made his name as the fist of fury in his school years in the late 70s, a boxing champ and the kind of brother they said could rearrange your dental formula. All the juniors followed the laid down protocol and avoided his right side. That was his good side, the hand that he used to eat or punch anyone who gave him lip. Even in the mid-80s, almost a decade after he had left the school, his rep only grew bigger. The new arrivals who came swaggering in, desperately tried to live up to Keep Left’s larger-than-life image.
They say life begins in the 40s. More like, reality, dawns at 40. The fourth decade of one’s life comes with its own varied bag of expectations for men and women. The first is the realization that youth is gone. You might not look your age but you will certainly feel it or be regularly reminded of it, every time some youth asks a dumb question like, ‘Who is Tina Turner?”
To be single in your forties and without child or spouse is a revolutionary statement for women these days, a far cry from the past when the unmarried older woman had to bear the pitiful title of spinster or an old maid.