Hookups and the death of romance in Nairobi

Gone are the days only men initiated one-night stands

In Summary

• It used to take several dates before people have sex, and this cemented their bond

• But now strangers are having sex on the first date, and women are as hooked as men

Lovers get cosy with each other
Lovers get cosy with each other
Image: FILE

Tony* (not his real name), 25, had been corresponding with a 20-year-old girl on social media for a month before she finally agreed to pay him a visit. Then he found himself in a dilemma.

He could take her to his one-room shack in Umoja Estate, where she would have to sit on a mattress on the floor, or take her to his friend’s more aesthetically pleasing crib.

“I called my friend and he agreed,” he told Sasa Digital. “But when we got there, my buddy wouldn’t give us privacy.”

Since all his other hints had failed, Tony decided to ask the friend to accompany him to the shop for some supplies. That way, he could ask him directly. The friend agreed, but when they got near the shops, he asked Tony to wait as he went back into the house for money. Several minutes later, the friend was yet to return.

“Going back to the house, they had locked themselves in,” Tony lamented. “Nilikuwa nasikia dame akiwika tu (I could hear the woman moaning).”

Unfortunately, such scenarios, as unbelievable as they might seem to some, are all too common in Nairobi. Quick, liberal sexual trysts have become a typical feature of the dating scene.

Janice*, a 26-year-old Mpesa shop attendant in the city, explains it thus:

“Your man is only yours when you are together. Once he’s out here alone, he’s ours. And vice versa.”

These youngsters start with sex, hoping to get to romance
Mzee Kimani

Though this reflects popular sentiment, it is a departure from the past, when relationships were somewhat sacred. There is no consensus as to how or why this current situation came to be.

“Women are now sexually liberated,” Janice said. “Gone are the days only men initiated one-night stands.”

Mzee Kimani, an octogenarian, says romance is dead.

“These youngsters start with sex, hoping to get to romance,” he says, “instead of the other way around. In my days, sex was reserved for the marital bed.”

Pastor Peter Ngunjiri of Saints Alive Church says morals have eroded to this extent due to “egocentrism”.

“People are no longer eager to compromise and instead search for partners to satisfy a need they have, instead of building relationships with others,” he said.

The pastor says the impulsive shift of alliances has surpassed personal relationships and is reflected in religion. Young people in the same church will engage in fruitless dalliances, then swap churches when they fall through, he said.

The escalation of casual hookups was recently captured in the hit song ‘Nairobi’ by Bensoul. The verse goes, “Yule anakupea, pia ananipea; Akikuletea, ananiletea; Wanakula fare, sote tunashare. Ogopa sana Nairobi.”

Performed by: Bensoul, Sauti Sol, Nviiri the Storyteller & Mejja

Short-term dating echoes the temporariness that has pervaded everything else, including the taste in food, dress, cars, accessories, and so on. Sexual conquest has become as fashionable as a handbag in an age where any kind of gloating racks up “views” and “likes” on social media.

Or, as Janice put it, “No one guy has everything I want. So, why not get different guys to satisfy each of my needs?”

This story first appeared on Sasa Digital, accessible on Sundays by dialling *550*3#

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