Mtu hafai kulala na jeans #TeamMafisiQuotes
Children are good teachers when you pay attention. I took my nephew Nigel out for an ice cream treat. I thought all toddlers loved ice cream. Not Nigel. He says ice cream is for ‘children’. Later in the day I recounted the incident to his mother. She said he spent too much time with grownups. She was worried he may grow into a ‘chauvinist’ like his uncle. She did not sound like she was ‘just kidding’. Nigel is six years old going on 18. He has no patience for children his age. His favourite phase, is ‘when I become big” and his strategy towards that end is hanging out with adult males with the single objective of picking up all the right habits. So we pray.
On that score, he is wise way beyond his years. Biology does not make you a ‘man’. It’s our habits in actual fact that define us. Habits are the one thing that separate boys from men and not age. So boys will be boys until, they know better or someone points out the absurdity of trying to sleep with every girl who looks ‘so hot’.
Today it is commonplace to find married men over forty, still playing out adolescence roles. Roaming in packs, surrounded by endless toys that entertain them, life becomes all about quick thrills. Male past times like boozing silly, opulent display and ‘chasing tail’ are the new man rules and any guy who refuses to read from the script is not being ‘real’.Unabore. It must be fun no doubt, these Team Mafisi puns and I am not taking the moral high ground here.
Uko sure utapata mathree itakufikisha home sahii #TeamMafisiQuotes
However, it becomes a bit worrisome when grown men appear stuck in the adolescence gear unable to find the momentum that allows for the development of other interests. You are what you say you are. There is clearly a very thin line between acting ‘real’ and playing lad or wearing your Team Mafisi colors as we say these days.
Why does the thinking persist, keeping men glued onto juvenile pursuits, living out some macho script they picked up from a TV show? We are afraid to experience manhood in it’s totality perhaps because we do not know what that entails.
Part of the problem is socialization. In a society uprooted from its past, with no institutional or cultural rites of passage, that help build character, the propagation of this Fisi culture festers on unchecked. The gap in knowledge transfers could be blamed on absentee fathers, often not there at all or simply too caught up in their own status pursuits that boys are left to the influence of the all time favourite nanny; the television screen. While we (as men) may understand the importance of economic and career success, we are increasingly lost when it comes to defining the non-posturing aspects of life and finding balance.
In the wake of this confusion we have seen a wave of ‘bad boys’ showcased as celebrities for nothing other than their newfound wealth and bad manners.
Footballers, musicians, politicians’ dominate the media space and the quick route to instant fame is courting controversy. Then some guys start to believe they cannot be taken seriously unless they turn up at the party driving a Hummer, with cheer girls in stilettos swinging their expensive weaves to Naija music in the back seat.
The whole Fisi culture revolves around external display of testosterone, the glorification of lust and somehow we have accepted this as a version escapism from what in reality are emasculated domestic living conditions. The problem with this thinking is that real men do not need to outdo each other. They have nothing to prove. They do not tout labels or ascribe to the stereotypes; metrosexual, lad, macho or gentleman. They are just who they are.
They do not live in some special realm of perfection or completion. They have their own insecurities and recurring personal challenges but they do not deal with them through escapism.
The first step is to challenge, the standard criteria—athletic ability, sexual conquest, power and economic success—that are constantly held up in our culture as the only measurements of manhood. We compare, we compete. That’s all we ever do. It drives men who cannot keep up to isolation and depression. Their loyalty is directed to the renegade gang and not the community.
Macho, swag and bravado was yesterday’s script. Today’s man is all about character. How we deal with life’s endless challenges, is what reveals our true character.
Men compete for whatever attention they can get. I am going to compare my girlfriend to yours and compete for whatever status I can acquire by being with the prettiest or the coolest or the best girl I can get. We compare bank accounts and job titles, houses and cars, and we compete for the amount of security and power that those items represent. Look no further than the cast of the Kenyan political class and it is obvious one should never underestimate delusions of grandeur attributed to the male ego.
It is not entirely unreasonable to have a cause or purpose in our lives that’s bigger than our own individual hopes, dreams, wants and desires.
So this blog’s idea of Manning Up! Is the cultivation of a set of alternative habits that define our manhood. Macho, swag and bravado was yesterday’s script. Today’s man is all about character. How we deal with life’s endless challenges, is what reveals our true character. Each must arrive at his own understanding and revelation through trial and error. In the end, character becomes the sum total of the choices we make in this life.
From the archives: First published in 2012 under the banner of lad culture before the term TeamMafisi came into vogue.It was updated to reflect the relevance of our times.
Image source: Drooling Hyena by Lyndon Firman www.flickr.com
25 thoughts on “Beyond The TeamMaFisi Culture”
Thank you Oyunga for being able to observe, comment and reccommend a solution. It really is a dire situation that if not fixed now may trickle to future generations. You are a sign of hope and leadership we need at this moment. Men of character, men unafraid to stand for what is right and just, Men with courage to be different, Men of substance…please stand up?!
Thanks Ciro. We play our little part. Appreciate the feedback. Please stay tuned.
Man Up! perfectly worded. Surely as men we need to toss out yesterday’s script and stand to be the men we are. Brilliant post.
Real men do need to outdo each other. They have nothing to prove. (just a small typo sir.)
@OP. Thanks. Sorted.
Thanks OP. Quite insightful and well spelt out. May many men take note. Cheers!
Man up indeed! I just got the words I need to challenge my male friends who are young but sadly into chauvinism. Kudos
This blog is an inspiration to all the men that are developing a new definition for manhood: character…and a wake up call to the lads..who believe in swag..
Big up. OP you’re a gifted writer. You inspire teens like myself. I agree on your point; a man is all about character
Excellent article. Men desire different things as the years fly by, most remain in the stage that they assume brings them the most respect. The stage where their egos get stroked the most. Breaking from that stage is a challenge and the true mark of a man.
A short while back, I was stuck at the sexual conquest stage, if for no other reason, to validate myself. It was a truly pathetic yardstick, but one that gave me great satisfaction nonetheless. Curiously, when one of the targets of my attentions turned me down, I did not feel bad or any less of a man. That’s when I realised I needed to Man Up! Time worked for me, it clearly doesn’t work for all men.
This is fresh, I have been reading your work for a few years now and I have to say that you have taken it to the next level with this article. Those who are keen enough will notice that manhood is under attack and our true definition/true masculinity is quickly being erased by many forces…media portrayals (read as TV) being the king of them all.
It will take a of of soul searching for us to rediscover who we truly are and our role in social relationships. This article points us in the right direction.
Great writing man.
Thanks Nyagah. Appreciate the kind words. There is still much to be written on that topic. Keep tuned.
As a young man,I feel rather guilty on how much effort I put in trying to justify our position as men in society through wrong values that we think are the norm instead on working on our own characters from within. With such informative platforms,I believe there is hope that the man that is being celebrated in this blog,will be the norm if you keep pushing us in that direction Oyunga. Keep it up sir!
Such brutal honesty is really needed in our contemporary society which judges so harshly that independent thought is not nourished. There is a tendency for most of us to get caught up in living up to the ‘societal-created’ images of success and forgetting who we are or what we are capable. Thanks for reminding your readers and the world at large to anchor themselves on who they really are and can be! Food for introspection! Well done Oyunga!
I appreciate this article, alot. The lack of ‘men who can be men’…is looming. I look around at the young boys and teens quickly turning to drugs and ask myself why. Alongside with your observation, these only serve to reveal what we have become as a society. What we do is always a result of the values we hold….which brings me to the question, are there values that clearly we can say we stand for, we live by and which we would protect by our all, or everything is up for sale and all you need is to name a price?
Oyunga, keep talking about such, keep writing, keep saying them. One day someone’s going to hear!
Thank you Pala..Continue educating our young men …
Thumbs up thura.When I ‘become big’ I’d like 2 be like you.
Great piece! Let’s grow the boy into a responsible man. https://www.facebook.com/groups/thisboythisman/?fref=ts
I’m a man going by all you’ve relayed here, let ‘men be men.
Great read as usual. Keep it up
The OP genius. True accounts mate.
Nice, i always thought you were Team Mafisi damu.
I had my time, then I moved on. Thanks.
Well articulated OP. This article is timely, men should devote their energies at developing characters that younger generation can ascribe to, characters that do not need to be defended since they stand out on their own right!
Sadly only stumbled on this post recently……. id like to hear/read your thoughts on institutions/ cultural rights that build character…..
in the Kenyan context…… what for example should we do?
There is no quick answer because people are at different stages of growth. I think it is a personal commitment towards becoming a better human being. In an ideal situation, schools, churches or religious centres and family are expected to instill values but reality does not mimic the ideal. These institutions have largely being compromised by self interest and the sense collective responsibility that created guidelines for young people growing up is now not as commonplace. Cultural rites are lost in time and translation and outside of the sentimental attachment, they have become avenues for exploitation. The Kenyan society is in a state of flux, caught between cultural foundations, religious adherence and the disillusion of modernity. I figure, individuals have to take that personal responsibility for holistic growth. By reading and actively seeking a deeper understanding one’s self and history, adopting a spiritual practice, participating in activities that build community and gravitating towards mentors who live by the ideals we aspire to. Basically, to be better, we have to put in the work.
The excellent idea here remains educate the heart.Real men knows when and what they want.They got principle…this separate them from boys….I agree with Oyunga’s article…Dr Myles Munroe once said character in longevity will exalt an individual….the rest will destroy us.