Following the gruesome murder of four young men, some of you have asked me to talk about the incident. Partly because of my memos and largely because they are my kinsmen.
I try not to comment on everything since I am limited and some issues are never within my bandwidth. Thus, I have steered clear of the issue, just seething in parental indignation, because any of those young men could have been my son. If they did anyone wrong, you would wish to have them in jail, than tortured and killed.
Even as we speculate what they must have done as to meet their death in the frightening manner that they did, for me I can only reiterate on two of the most fundermental memos I have ever shared here: Fathering Yourself and Parenting Yourself.
As you saw, the father of one of the slain kids wasn’t aware what his son did for a living. He said the son told him that he used to work as a ticketing officer of an airline. The mother said that the son was innocent and a few days before his death, he even borrowed some Sh 70 shillings from her.
The first thing you notice here is parental disconnect. I am convinced that the parents are not lying at all. Many people in towns who have left their parents in the village are on their own.
Many parents don’t even know who their children are anymore, what their children do for a living, where they live, why they live there, and how they get by. Most of those young men living a high life in Kilimani have parents in the village who have no idea how they can afford such lifestyle. I know a girl from my village who if the parents knew what she does, and the depths of depravity she has sunk to, the father will die from shock. I know a dozen young men who have chosen certain depraved lifestyles that are so shocking, all for the love of money and the good life.
Thing is, there is a wide chasm of intergenerational ignorance between parents and children that is hard to bridge. Children know too much. But it is useless knowledge that leads them to the grave. Parents know so little, but it is inexcusable ignorance that is totally understandable.
I will be hard pressed to explain to my old man what cryptocurrency is. He may understand prostitution, but it will be too hard to explain that men too can sell their bodies to men and women. And he wouldn’t want to know what BDSM is, necrophilia, cocroohiphilia and every sexual-philia seeping to our economy. Recently I learnt that there are young men and women who earn money from making masturbation pornography and selling it off porn sites and they living large on it.
Basically, Nairobi made us and the times are hard and people are doing what they have to do to make money.
Thus, parents are mostly out of the picture.
And when we happen to make money, the balance of power shifts pretty quickly. I am the last born in my family, but God-forbid if I was the richest in my family, even if I was the most foolish, I will be worshipped. Only that I come from a family of sensible people and if they suspected I am onto some bad mischief they will tell me the truth and nobody will touch my coin. However most of us come from dehumanizing poverty and if we made money, our parents and siblings, won’t be interested if it is bloodied or soiled money as long as it can cater for the immediate needs.
As an ostentatious country where there is a rush to drive the latest largest car, build the most outrageously big house in the village, morals have become an inconvenience.
So what happens when young men are left to their devices? They become rudderless.
They think they are invincible. And if money comes easily from fraud or deals or dirty jobs, so be it. To be a young man and afford choice whisky and a stream of young, nubile girls, is a dream of many young men. With no church or parents to whip some sense to these kids, life on the fast lane becomes addictive and unsustainable.
Once you start making money fraudlently or easily in your 20s, there are two ways: if lucky, you end up in jail. If unlucky, your life expectancy is cut down to under 30. This happens all the damn time. Ten years ago, I knew a few young men who were into dubious stuff. One of them is in jail. And the other is suspiciously nowhere to be seen. Your guess is as good as mine.
This calls for individual responsibility.
Know when to stop. Remember you don’t get lucky every day playing dirty. Nowhere in the map that happens. That is why books and movies exist, to serve as a cautionary tale.
Remember a life of consistent drinking and partying, always in the company of young women, without moderation or knowing when to bail out always has a catastrophic end; either financial ruin, a broken marriage, or a complete loss of the sense of direction. Few people (and one has to be very discerning) manage to escape this.
Most young men are too weak to inhibit their appetites, to know the limits of their potential and youthful idealism makes them overestimate our smartness.
This calls for young people to have situational awareness. If you have a son, a nephew, anyone young, and even young girls, always tell them to know where they are, who they are with and to know what they are doing. It is easy to get lost in the glamorous life. If we come from poverty or broken homes, it is easy to be swayed.
I would probably had tripped long time ago, if not for the constant reminder from the patriarchs in my family to know my place in the world.
But parental and avuncular bonds have weakened, that calls for you on your own to figure out things. Some people can do bad things and get away with them.. But they are a minority.
To reprise the lessons:
1. To parent yourself is to censure yourself as if you were your own child any time you trip.
2. Always ask yourself, ‘will my mother or father be proud of what I am doing?’ if the answer is Yes do it. If it is NO, then know what to do.
3. As a child, you used to test boundaries of things you could do. And you will get beaten if you crossed that line. What personal boundaries do you cross as an adult that you need to whip yourself?
4. Easy come, easy go. Remember when you were young, how impatient you were and how your parents made you wait for the food, for your favourite snack, or how you had to earn something you so badly wanted? Apply that lesson. Sometimes success has to wait. There is a process. Microwaved success sometimes comes out like a microwaved chapati: instantly breaks down. Shortcuts always remain wrong cuts. Always remember you could be the weakest link that can be cut out anytime or you become a fall guy.
5. It is your life. But you have siblings. You have parents. You have friends. Be empathetic to know the pain you cause them by your actions. Don’t be too selfish.
6. Know your roots. Stick to them
7. There is a reason your father is retired to the village. Always know where you come from and be proud of the place and when the world is against you, go chill there.
8. For young men: pesa, pombe na wanawake is always a good story but with one plot and one predetermined outcome. There are enough men in their late 30s and 40s to learn them. Some of them they were the biggest celebrity in the country, that worshipped the grounds they walked on.
9. Delayed gratification. They don’t teach this anymore at school. But train yourself to delay gratification. Life gets more and more qualitative as we age. Don’t rush things. I didn’t know a lot of things in my 20s but now in my 30s, I enjoy them better. As a man, time is on your side as long as you build yourself intently and intensely. Your father is a product of time, not rush.
To be continued…