“The day I will ever meet you, I will slash your throat!” Ken roared in anger
“Before you slash me, I will split up your brain and extract all the stupidity out of you!’ Alice shouted back.
This was the last conversation between Ken and Alice outside court after their divorce was finally settled. Ken wanted a bigger pie of Alice property, but she had a daft lawyer who had already advised her to change the ownership of her properties to her sister.
Smart move. At least she thought. As she drove off to her new home in the leafier parts of Nairobi for the first time in 15 years, she would live without her ex-husband Ken.
Trouble in their paradise started shortly after a blissful honeymoon to a popular island in the Indian ocean. Ken was a businessman in the construction industry while Alice was a corporate communications manager of a multinational company located in Nairobi.
She enjoyed a six-figure salary and on top of that her job required constant travel within East Africa, something that did not augur well with Ken. After 7 years, with three kids in tow, Ken advised her to resign and open a boutique in their estate. He argued that her constant absence had affected their son emotionally.
Alice hesitated but after fights escalated into her home, she quit her job. A decision she hoped would save her already dying marriage-it didn’t. Her boutique business was doomed to fail from the word go. Her lack of business acumen and marital stress saw the business go downhill and finally it was closed. The fights persisted at home. Ken got a young ‘mpango wa kando’ and boom- the marriage died.
Are Kenyan men afraid of successful wives? Why does a grown man, in this harsh economy, urge or manipulate his wife to quit a job and pursue a small business? Mark Kariuki, a marital counselor argues that some men become insecure when a woman earns more than her husband.
“The man can feel overshadowed and that he is no longer important in the home if the wife is the one who ‘calls the shots’ financially. This is primarily because Africa is a patriarchal society and a man is naturally supposed to be the main provider,” he says.
Sheila is a financial consultant in Nairobi, with a good salary, drives a BMW and resides in a leafy suburb- any young woman’s dream in Nairobi. At 34, she says that most potential dates she meets are intimidated by her status and wealth. ‘I once went on a blind date with a guy that I was introduced to by a mutual friend. The date went well until the guy asked me where I lived and where I worked. My goodness! He just shrunk on the sofa. Our conversation went south after that. He finally blurted out that I was a good catch but high maintenance. He said he couldn’t afford me? I finally left after I settled the bill.’
A Kenyan man is a better ‘catch’ when he becomes rich and would find it easy to date. However, the script changes when a Kenyan woman bags ‘mulla’ and can afford all the fine things in a social class. She is labeled as ‘bitchy’ ‘husband snatcher’ and that she has a sponsor behind her. Most men shudder from dating her.
Why the double standards?