“Sasa Mwanamke, Utafanya Nini?”

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I like men who underestimate the power and strength of a woman. What am I saying…I don’t like them. I LOVE them!

I engaged such a man recently. We were talking about politics and somehow we ended up talking about women in relation to men. How we ended up there, I don’t really know. We started with discussing how politicians make promises during campaigns and how they get to office and could care less about fulfilling those promises. He claimed to understand where they’re coming from and tried to reason with me.

“Look here Renee, even you know that when a man courts a woman, he makes a lot of promises, some of which he doesn’t intend to keep…”

“So does it mean…” I tried to interject.

“No, no, no, let me finish. Let me finish!” he cut me short.

“You know how courtship goes. Before a girl accepts a man’s advances, the guy has to promise heaven and earth. You have to tell her you will fly her to the moon and back even if you have no cent to your name. Once ameingia box, she’s in your court, deal is sealed…basi, kwisha maneno….” he was feeling awfully smart.

To imagine that he thought that women don’t know this game!

Seeing that I was silent, he carried on as if to make me understand ‘these things’.

…kwani what do you expect, an actual trip to the moon? No! I have better things to do! And if the woman pesters me, I tell her zaa watoto kwanza and we’ll go back to the drawing board!”

At this point, I threw up my hands. Don’t even get me started! Anyway, I recovered in good time to inquire about a thing or two;

“Say you promise her the moon, right? And she really really wants that trip to the moon. And the only reason she agrees to your advances is so that she can get to take that trip … you know…to the moon? If that trip is not forthcoming, don’t you think she might quit you? Since you did not live up to your end of the bargain?

“Quit me?!” He laughed. No chortled is more like it. “Quit me and go where?”

See what I had to deal with? Am I the only one….never mind!

Sasa Tuseme ukweli. Let us be honest with ourselves here…Where will she go? To her parent’s house? She will not quit. She will stay. Eh? Sasa atafanya nini?

Sasa atafanya nini? What else can she do?

I smiled because I had heard that statement used by women a whole lot. Your husband batters you to pulp and you go, “Sasa nitafanya nini?” Then you stay put giving him the impetus to do it over and over. He cheats on you with anything in a skirt, and all you do is wonder, sasa nitafanya nini? He treats you like a doormat, but then again, utafanya nini?

Now this man was also asking “Sasa mwanamke utafanya nini?

I was thinking of a few choice words for him but I kept my cool just to see where his Neanderthal mind would take us.

“Ok. So you’ve never heard of any woman who has left her husband, no?”

“None?”

Lakini hata akienda, si unatafuta mwingine? Yeah…” he was nodding frantically. I’m sure he gave himself a mental high five and pat on the back.

Then he had a light-bulb moment “Kwanza akiwa na watoto, ataenda wapi na watoto?

I shook my head.

“Child support nayo?” I asked

“Child support what? If she chooses to leave on her own volition I will not agree to pay a single cent!”

“Wait, so you will play ping pong with your responsibility as a father? You will only provide for your children if the mother agrees to stay with you? Wow!”

WOW!

“Dude, she will sue you for child support and you will pay her every month with your payslip! Smell the coffee bwana!”

“Sue me? Hizi vitu ndogo ndogo you just have to know how to handle them. You get a good lawyer and he will make sure that you don’t pay anything.”

How does your lawyer change the paternity of your child, pray tell?

I really love men who underestimate women. Seeing a man like that, I rub my hands together and wait. Today’s woman is not that woman in that man’s mind. Today’s electorate is not the same one in his head either. You don’t get away with not keeping your word anymore.

This is how it works: You ask a girl out. She declines. I mean, look at you. Prove your worth or something! You act on your best behaviour. You promise her the world. She eventually accepts mainly because you are on your best behaviour. Then you talk to her like she really has a brain between her ears. Like she reasons. You know….like an intelligent human being as opposed to a sack of potatoes? You tell her to pardon you, that though you would like nothing more, you really can’t give her the world like you promised. Inform her that you will however make her your world. Promise her that it will be worth it in the long run. That you will use every day to try and make her the happiest woman alive. Play her Happy by Pharrell Williams for good measure. Dance to it too-but only if you’re a good dancer. Just give her your best and treat her with some level of respect. That is what every woman wants. We really can live without that trip to the moon you know!

Chances are, she will give you the benefit of the doubt. She will stick around. Not because her lungs will stop functioning or her heart will stop pumping blood if she doesn’t. No. She will actually choose to stay with you, you undeserving moron!

Something happens when you are the source of your woman’s happiness. You won’t know how it happens but that happiness radiates back to you. GIGO kinda thing.Try the Neanderthal’s way and you will be miserable to a point of despair. Are you miserable? Is your woman happy? Told ya!

The 21st Century woman does not ask “Sasa nitafanya nini?” She only thinks it for a while. Then she answers that question as she comes up with a plan. This woman quits men and she does just fine after that gentlemen! She does ok. She does not go back to her parents’ home. She buys her parents land and builds them a home. She furnishes it. Don’t get it twisted! She will leave you and you will pay her your share of child support. She knows her worth – make no mistakes about that.

Use all the flowery language you can master. Pick up lines and all. But get this. At some point, you will have to put your money where your mouth is.

You want a family? Close knit, intact, whole, hunky-dory? Treat your woman with some level of decency and respect. You want a broken family? Well, I just gave you the Neanderthal’s manual. Go ahead and use it. Soon you’ll be talking divorce, child support, court hearings, single parenting, wayward children…etc. All thanks to your chest. Yeah, the thumping of your chest! And when the days are long gone, you sit alone, and you think to yourself; “IF only I had treated that woman right. If only I could get a second chance…”

Men who underestimate women get their lesson sooner rather than later. I like the look on their faces when they realize that these creatures are smart as hell. I love it when they finally see how a home is bare and empty without her touch. I enjoy it when he finally understands that she sees it all. That she knows. That she has a plan. I really do get emotional when that chest-thumping know-it-all comes to the realization, albeit belatedly, that this woman can actually make it without him. I even get teary (give me a break!) when he finally appreciates her.

Ha! The politician too.

First published on the Storymoja Festival blog

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