Two incidents convinced me of this. I was at a hardware store haggling for something or other when I noticed the old man next to me was visibly agitated. Looking around to see what could possibly be causing a senior citizen such anguish, my eyes fell upon what he was looking at. It was a smiling couple and child. The old man then started ranting, hii ni mwanaume ya aina gani? (What kind of man is this?)
Noticing my interest he turned to me and asked if I was married, to which I replied no. He then advised me that should I ever find myself in a matrimonial situation with offspring in tow, I should never carry the baby in public. ‘’What if a thug accosted your wife? Would you drop the child to help her or would she fight for you while you and offspring stood by, watching sheepishly?’’ The simple undeniable fact is, men are supposed to protect the family.
It then made sense. If I was a purse-snatcher or something of the sort, the woman whose husband is carrying the baby presents a relatively easy target, unless of course she’s extremely skilled in martial arts. I went off satisfied to have learnt that what passes for pompous patriarchy is in fact well thought out. But in due course of time and prolonged exposure to modern feminist ideals, I started to doubt the wisdom of the old man. He was after all an old traditional man, whose very mindset was considered out-dated.
I pondered over the validity of his argument for some weeks. He’d made complete sense but, it would have been nice to have a woman’s perspective on the subject. As fate would have it, one lazy Saturday afternoon Miles Davis was interrupted by the sound of a lady on a badly set up public address system. I live next to a school that rents out the field on Saturdays for weddings, so its something I’m grudgingly used to.
This particular Saturday however, my ears were hooked when the lady, who I presumed to be an aunt, started chastising the girl. She warned her that her new husband was now in charge of her safety and security. To make things practical, she was to never allow the man to carry the child in public, even on his insistence. The aunt then turned to the groom and similarly laid down the law.
It’s not that fathers shouldn’t shower their offspring with affection, but a real man understands that the safety of his family trumps political correctness. By all means engage in all your fatherly activities to your heart’s content, but not at the expense of your more pressing obligations. You may end up giving old men and women something to talk about.