Where I Grew Up They Didn’t Hold Hands

where i grew up they didn't hold handsListening to any Kenyan radio talk show you will discover how endangered women and children are. Unfortunately, our women are not running towards the loving arms of a dad. Instead, they are running, as far away as they can, from him.
Four years ago, I heard a conversation that shocked me between a group of women.
I don’t need a man in my life, one of them said. All I need is a good looking man to make me pregnant. Because I have everything I need to take care of a child or two I don’t need a man in my life. 
I wouldn’t like to downplay the fact that men, including me, have done nasty things that have caused the society to look down upon fatherhood. However, I strongly believe that having a dad is very important for the development of a child.

Children borne out of love songs and balads

We use songs a lot during our sessions and end up learning and discovering a lot of ways we can empower our boys better. One of the songs we have used is Mapenzi by Kidum
I asked one of them to sing the song

Zama nimezama ndani ya bahari, la penzi lako (I’m drowning in an ocean of your love)

Siwezi kusonga mbele, kurudi nyuma (I can’t move forward, can’t go back)

sijielewe (I’m confused)

Haya mapenzi ya fujo hayafai (This complicated love isn’t necessary)

Kama wanipenda jaribu kunipa raha (If you love me, try to give me happiness)

“How would you use these words to a girl?” I asked.
“To convince her that I need her love,” one of them replied.
“And what are the results?”
“We end up having sex while our parents are sleeping,” another boy said.
“Okay,” I said after a long silence. “What if the girl offers to give you a life jacket so you can save yourself from drowning? What will you do? Was Kidum telling a story about someone else or was he sharing his own experience?”

Where I grew up they didn’t hold hands in public

I still remember the very first time I witnessed a kiss. I was 11 years old. Uncle Jackson, the most beautiful girl at Kajomoko Primary School and I were coming from school in the evening. I was walking in front, oblivious of what was happening behind me. Along the way – for some unknown reason – I turned my head only to see my uncle grasp the girl’s neck before their mouths hungrily and furiously came into contact.
Because I was there, and they must have noticed I was staring, the kiss lasted a short 28 seconds. In between the time the kiss begun and ended, I thought about nothing else but Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” by Bryan Adams. I had heard the song on Sundowner, on KBC English service.
To really love a woman
To understand her – You gotta know her deep inside
Hear every thought – See every dream
And give her wings when she wants to fly
Then when you find yourself lyin’ helpless in her arms
You know ya really love a woman
I spent many years after this kiss searching for my own Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman experience. Because I was not able to replicate what I had seen my uncle do, I left behind multiple broken hearts.
I see the same thing in the boys we mentor through Lifesong Kenya. Most of them have shared their desire to have a man they can look up to as a role model. They also want to be accepted, appreciated and loved. They also want to do the same. The only problem is; they do not know how to express themselves because no one taught them how to properly love others.

Call to Action

My work with children in schools and juvenile prison is proof of how much the world needs fathers (and if there are none, father figures) who are actively involved in their wives and children’s lives. Much as many of us never grew up enjoying the privilege of having a loving and actively involved dad around, I believe we can end and break the vicious cycle of irresponsible fatherhood.
We don’t have to wait for someone to come up with a love song whose story line has nothing to do with us. As you head back home, envision yourself hugging your wife and embracing your children and getting lost into their world. In the end, you will discover that spending time with your wife and children will be the most precious thing they will treasure for the whole of their lives. Start thinking how your family can provide the same experience to mothers and children who desperately need the guidance of a father-figure.
Have a lovely weekend, will ya?

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