Men's Conference: A Gentleman's Guide

  • The first thing you must do is tailor a suit, but only if you don’t have an omufundi. Omufundis don’t make suits. They make buttoned parachutes. 

    So you must find a nice legit fundi with calligraphy in their business name. That, or those hidden gems with one Singer machine deep in Kawangware. Those ones, if you can find them, will make you look like you hired Charles Njonjo's tailor.

    A Singer tailoring machine in a workshop

    You don’t want to show up at the men’s conference looking like you dressed in curtains that you stitched together in the morning. Especially not if you’re a die-hard believer in the cause and intend to be seen at this event. 

    It won't do you any good appearing on live TV to talk about serious issues looking like you can be unfurled at any moment and used as a table cloth.

    That’s the most important thing: you need a suit because suits are serious and you are a serious guy attending a serious meeting..

    But anyway, this is your first time, you have never imagined that tailors can be found. For you, clothes are created magically by unnamed people who knew you could not walk around in all of Eden’s glory.

    For you, the first-timer, just tailor one of those multi-colored African shirts, or buy one. The lucky thing with those ones is that it could look like a repurposed bedsheet and you would still pass for that breed of people, “a Pan-African intellectual”. 

    The next thing you must do is leave your smile at home. It is not your fault that the men’s conference started as a Twitter joke. You, yourself, are not a joke. Repeat to yourself, "I am a serious man attending a serious forum, for men" (you must grunt after this, or growl, or whatever it is that real men do).

    You have your suit ready, or your billowy African shirt, you have left your smile in the little cup in your house where you throw 1 bobs. 

    And you have blocked your girlfriend or your wife because Valentine’s is evil and you are waging a revolution against the holiday.

    You listened to the General: "Stop texting! Mobilise! Organise! Be disciplined!" And yes, "Viva!"

    You did it. You almost want to text Miguna, but he blocked you a long time ago. Back then you didn’t see his wisdom but you must admit, he has pushed you in the right direction.

    It’s not exactly the revolution the General imagined while freezing his toes off in Canadian winters, but those are small details. Political revolution, romantic revolution: all are forms of liberation.

    You are an ambitious man, next year you want to be the keynote speaker at the conference.

    That brings us to the next thing: you must have important points to raise. Points that will require that you cross your legs, place an index finger on your chin and frown slightly in your dark blue suit.

    For instance:

    Who should buy the nyanyas in the house?

    An issue like this is worthy of a UN Security Council meeting. Who should buy the nyanyas really? The woman is in charge of the kitchen, but you are the head and not the neck, and the head rules over the money.

    You must also throw in the fact that it is Valentine’s. If you buy 3 nyanyas for 50 bob, isn’t that a better gift than a rose? Roses that you can’t eat. Very important. They should have made it the theme of the event.

    Why shouldn’t kitchens come with directions?

    The womenfolk do a great disservice to men after all. How should you be expected to know where the cups are in your own kitchen, or saucepans, you didn’t even know you had a rice cooker. The rice appears on the table from a tree in Karura as far as you’re concerned.

    But sometimes you need to go in there, like when the neighbour needs salt. So why shouldn’t wives provide directions and appropriate labels: “Salt shaker, inside you’ll find salt”. A marriage is about cooperation and women are not doing their part.

    Where did the baby go?

    The head shouldn’t be bothered with small details like the children’s age, their whereabouts or even their names really. You should be allowed to have a general idea of the number of human beings that live in your house and eat your food. But of course, from time to time you will baby-sit because you like helping raise your own kids.

    Yet, questions like "Where is the baby?" should not be addressed in your direction. Mothers, if they really want to track this offspring you brought into the world together, should liaise with the police. Get those ankle monitors they give prisoners. They have GPS tracking after all, then women would never need to ask busy men, who are tired from a day of heading the house, where the baby went. 

    Suit ready, smile abandoned, talking points like the edge of broken glass and you, my friend, are now ready for the men’s conference. 

    A man pictured wearing an ankle monitor on July 23, 2018.