Grappling with our differences


A few days ago, I overheard two colleagues debating about where to take a beer after work. You should have heard them seriously arguing, striking off one joint after another, oblivious to everything else happening around them, including the pounding rain outside.

Listening to them, it occurred to me that at any given time, our needs are completely different. It was approaching 6pm and, unlike the two gentlemen whose greatest concern at that point was where to spend their money, mine was how to get home. Nairobi is a disaster when it rains in the evening.

Within seconds, there are massive jams which can only be from hell, blocking entry to and from the city centre. When that happens, expect to reach home no earlier than 10pm. The person who will one day manage to find a way to get rid of traffic jams in the city centre deserves a Nobel Prize of some sort.

Also, I still think that the Nairobi City County needs to invest in boats to enable easier movement; I mean, unblocking drainage doesn’t seem to work, does it?


But I was talking about our varying needs at any given point. The other day, I happened to walk behind a young woman tottering on heels she could barely walk in. Though I could not see her face, I was sure that she was in acute distress, and was silently cursing herself for the fashion faux pas she made that morning.

At that moment, her main worry, her main need, was to get from point A to B without falling, because it was obvious she would not find balance no matter how much she tried — not in those shoes.

As for the people giving her curious looks accompanied with humorous, half-smiles some were probably hurrying for interviews, others to class, and others for dates.

If you’re a man, you have probably heard this statement a million times: “I have nothing to wear”

At that moment, the one asking the question is standing before a wardrobe choking with clothes, some even spilling to the floor. And yet from the genuine look of distress on her face, she truly believes that she has nothing to wear. In fact, were she to be subjected to a lie-detector test and asked, “Do you have clothes?” and answered, “No,” she would pass with flying colours.

I cannot count the number of times I have made this statement. At that moment, I am nursing a headache, triggered by trying to figure out what to wear, because despite going through my wardrobe 10 times, I still can’t find a single thing to wear.

I am yet to meet a man who breaks into a sweat at the thought of what to put on. Most men simply reach for the first clean shirt and trousers their eyes land on and move on to more important things.


As his wife stands in front of an open wardrobe swimming in clothes, looking utterly lost, his urgent need is to get moving before an impossible jam builds up at that notorious junction.

Yes, men’s and women’s needs are as different as night and day.

As you peruse that menu wondering what to eat, someone, somewhere, is wondering where that day’s meal will come from.

While you curse Monday for approaching too fast, another person is desperately looking for a job, and as you admonish your children for curtailing your “freedom”, there is a person who has been trying to get a child for years, but has been unsuccessful.

Oh, and as the country gets pounded by rain, there are households that have had no drop of water for months — yet right outside their windows is lots of water which they unfortunately cannot make use of. So near yet so far. Life is full of irony, isn’t it?

FEEDBACK: Graduating tots

Parenting is getting complicated. When your child joins school, you also become a co-student.


So, did your son’s graduation ceremony match what you had envisioned? I bet you didn’t score 100 per cent despite the best effort. You have a break until after Standard Eight when your custom will dictate another graduation in which your son will be declared a man.


The only graduation I ever attended was when I completed university way back. The other academic achievements I just filed away — who cares about an MBA or a PhD? And then my little girl was “graduating” from her kindergarten. I couldn’t wait to get away from the event! Maybe, just maybe, because of that experience, she has grown to become a star performer with two degrees. So Carol, those graduations just might be the building block for a future superstar.


My twin boys remember their birthdays and they hammer the sense of that day into my head.


You are a realist. Simple, clear and spot-on real life articles.


When we were growing up, going to nursery school was never a big deal. There was no much hullabaloo about graduating. I have realised that teachers’ appetite for money has tripled over the years. They have conspired against parents and guardians.


Events to mark a graduation or birthday refreshes your mind on how far you have come. It’s a time to give thanks.


Since third term started, it has been a daily song by my five and half year old son. To facilitate this transition to class one, I was left minus Sh2,500.


I found Our Latest Fad extremely intimate. I have a daughter “graduating” on November 20. She incessantly reminded me of her graduation until she came to Nairobi to confirm my attendance. Unfortunately, I have an appointment on that day. A day after she left, she called asking for a graduation cake.