Men… Do you know of one or are you one? A friend once described them as the simplest of creatures but yet again the most complicated part of God’s creation. It is so easy to know what they are thinking but extremely hard to know what their next move will be after the so predictable thought. Recently another friend was curious about the aura that surrounds man. She wanted to understand the phenomenon of man, the one created in God’s image. As i tried picking my brain on how I would answer this simple but yet complex question another question popped up in mind. I thought it would actually simplify my work in explaining the phenomenon of a man to her but it seemed I had thought wrong.
How do you define a man?… Is it by his big muscles, or maybe it is his bearded face when he resembles wolverine with his deep hoarse voice or maybe it is by the many wonderful attributes associated with him like being brave, smart and strong? I wondered. We at times have statements where we describe a man as the complete package like in Africa the ideal man should be tall, black and handsome, and I wondered again whether in the western world they also have their own ideal man and does he look any thing like the tall, black and handsome one?
Yes, I know who a man is, but beyond having the XY chromosomes and away from the dictionary definition, how do you define yourself as a man or that man in your life?
So I decided to ask around with the hope of getting different views and see how these opinions would differ or resemble. “How do you define a man?” I would ask, and most of the answers I got were mostly blank stares or half smiles. Then my correspondents would find a way of changing the topic and dodging my question. I thought my question was quite clear and straight forward, why are people acting like am asking about rocket science? Maybe I should view this from a broader perspective and look at how the society defines a man and then I might find my answer. So on one fine evening as I was going home in a matatu and the music was booming, I finally stumbled on the answer I had been seeking for over a week. Diamond the Tanzania superstar’s song “utanipenda” was playing which means would you still love me? In the song he asks if he lost all his fame and fortune overnight would his baby mama still love him, would his manager still be there for him and would his adoring army of fans stand by him when the radio and TV stations wouldn’t dare play his music anymore or would they now join the local newspapers and slander his name? And after listening to those lyrics you start to wonder who would stand by you when things went south or would it now be you against the world?
Probably by now you are wondering how the song has anything to do with defining a man. But by listening to those lyrics I came to the realization that our society defines a man in terms of his success or failure.
When a man is successful, that is when we want to associate with him, that is when we idolize with him and that is when you actually hear him say “I am the man“. But then when he is what our society considers a failure no one wants to be seen, heard or associated with him and we end up vilianizing them and if they describe themselves as work in progress we can’t help but sneer and tell them to man up.
Is the way the society describes men twisted and are our expectations for them a paradox? We want them to be emotional but when they cry it becomes a big deal and they are considered as weak. Another perfect example of the paradox is when the wise men say that the strongest man stands alone but again they said no man is an island and then you wonder how can he stand alone but still be an island? In Kenya we have a famous saying that mwanaume ni kung’ang’ana meaning “a man is all about the struggle” and you again wonder isn’t a man entitled to anything else in life apart from the tough life “the struggle” so as to meet the set expectations and standard required of him?
Word out there is that we live in a patriarchal society. One which is male dominated but if that’s the case why is there emphasis on new initiatives such as let’s not forget the boy child or in the perfect scenario where a man gets hit by a woman no one bothers and they actually walk away in laughter. But if he hits the woman after she hits him all hell breaks loose and he will get the beating of a lifetime. What do we call a society where we want men to be men but still not to be men enough? And isn’t that kind of society putting a dent on the Mr. perfect
Everyone dreams to be or meet a Mr perfect and as much as that dream is true there will always be cracks to Mr perfect. No one is perfect which even led to the famous saying that “man is to error”. Perfection is just glorified opinion and actually it’s our imperfections that truly make us perfect. So do yourself a favor, find the beauty in the cracks of Mr. Perfect
To the men reading this, I am definitely not asking you to be cry babies no, hell no but again it takes a fully grown man to express his emotions. Never dare raise your arm against a woman because that is the highest level of cowardice and its inhumane. I did ask whether men aren’t allowed to have somethings easy but don’t use that as an excuse to become lazybones. It is actually our responsibility as men to always rise to occasion and be the Men.