• Old men want booze, the youth jobs and connections, the women, marriage
Wikipedia describes an “eligible bachelor” as a bachelor considered to be a particularly desirable potential husband, usually due to wealth, social status or other specific personal qualities. The Wiki is known to be more wrong than right, but on this occasion, it’s bang on the money. And at no other time do I live this definition than when I visit my home village.
For those not personally acquainted with me, my silver Mercedes G-Wagen announces my presence and piques their curiosity, while those aware of my arrival (mostly through my mother) spill into my childhood home in droves. Old women, young women, old men, young lads, small kids… Thank God no one breaks into song!
Oops! Too late. One woman begins ululating.
The male visitors’ needs are simple. Old men want booze, the youths want jobs and connections. The women, not so.
“I hear you’re not yet married,” says one older woman with the all-knowing eyes of an owl. “Is that so?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I say.
“Only because you haven’t met my daughter. Akomo! Come meet the most learned man in our village.”
“Most learned is a bit of an exaggeration, don’t you think?” I protest.
“Nonsense! The son of Oliech might have gone to university, but he’s no doctor. A man who can cut open a human being and put him back together? That’s the kind of husband I want for my Akomo.”
“Ma’am, I’m not that kind of—”
“Look at her!” The woman proudly displays her daughter. “Look at those child-bearing hips. This one will sire you a clan and you’ll never hear a peep from her about them epi-rurals.”
“You mean epidural?”
“I had 14 of them youngins myself. Fourteen times the midwife pulled them out of me, and never once did I step afoot inside no hospital. This one? She’s got my blood in her veins.”
It’s the same with Akello’s and Awiti’s and Fatuma’s mums. I don’t blame them one bit. I blame the future husbands we’re cultivating currently. Too many of them are all too glad to sit at home and have a woman provide for them.
Whatever happened to the men of old? Proud beings who boasted of their capability to provide? Something needs to change. And soon.