Why Can’t I Date My Friend, Mum?

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I attended a session last week, in which the theme was ‘inter-cultural romance’. Holding this conversation were a people from multifarious cultural backgrounds, but a big majority had one thing in common; they were married, some with kids. This lot was different, their thinking, more sober than what I am used to whenever I hold court with the analogue generation on the issue of culture and relationships.

I have had a lot of fun listening to the bigotry of parents claiming that they raise us to be better indiscriminate children, especially on cultural lines. I have listened to grown-ups speak with the reduced intelligence of an aborted foetus. Yet when they speak in open forums like the one I was in, parents speak with such melancholic passion about how deeply seated tribalism is in our society; so much so that it prohibits us of the younger generation from seeking inter-county love.

This lot was different. They shared my sentiments, which I found rather uncomfortable. Like they were hiding something. Their indifference toward inter-cultural dalliance was a tad emetic. The thing with pretence is that when cloaked, it reeks like a hyena’s morning breathe.

This is why;

A huge chunk of the younger generation, especially those that live in town areas do not give a shaved monkey about tribe, race or religion. By what name potential lovers call their God, or how they prefer their vegetables prepared, ranks least in their checklist of qualifications. University campuses provide a vast spectrum of cultural differences, yet Cupid has no problem playing target practice with them. Most college (and even high school) students who are not dating for love, are in a relationship because they find their significant others aesthetically pleasing, intelligent, powerful- financially or politically, or because rumour has it that he is a Mandingo in the sack. Which part of the country they hail from is not even a consideration- those are just details.

At least that is what we think until we introduce our spouses to our parents, and the first thing they ask is their surname; a euphemistic but conceited way of asking “what tribe are you?” That is when reality comes stumbling down upon you that the devil is in the details. Our folks are the ones who feed us these scary stories about how luos beat their wives, shave their widows and sleep with the dead. They tell us that all kuyus are kleptomaniacs, all luhyas are tough headed and that Kambas have no control over their debauchery.

“Why not get a nice guy/girl of your own kind?” they ask.

Of course there have been isolated cases of kuyus stealing from their men in the middle of the night, of unfaithful Kamba ladies, and brutal expression of love by luo men. But making a sweeping conclusion about an entire tribe from a sample of outliers, misfits and criminals does not pass for convincing research.

In any case, while in campus, these are the same people who we copy in exam rooms, borrow their pens and go raving with every weekend. These are the same people we call comrades; meaning, at the very least, they are our friends. So why can’t I date my friend, mum? (now I sound like Binyavanga, aye?)

Obeying your old folks is the only commandment with a promise, we know, but I believe God will understand our defiance this time. The antagonism between the analogue and digital generations is not merely a political riddle; it is an everyday social enigma. So bad it is that when our parents begin speaking on the issue of inter-cultural intimacy, I wonder who exactly the child in the room is.


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  1. oh My!! my aunt came visiting today and told my sister and I that if we bring a certain tribe home, she will not give her blessing. She also claims that the other side will not accept us. She will not see our view of indifference towards tribe.

  2. It is pieces like this that make me a proud follower of this blog. The flow. The issue. The honesty.

    And yes, I hope that God understands our defiance this time.

    #theLordDiplock #Koro

  3. This is a very sensitive topic. I would treat it just as I would interdenominational relationships. I agree with the old folks to an extent. This is because they look at it from a ‘preventive’ perspective rather than ‘curative’. Marriage is an institution that brings two families, cultures, beliefs together. Is one’s partner going to be all the way comfortable with the other family or will they feel out of place? Is a joke going to cracked and they don’t just get it? And how many times can they feel completely out of place before they start looking for excuses not to go for family functions? This is just buy one example. I believe that marriages break not because of a grand reason, but a collection of small fights that pent up to one throwing hands in the air to scream,’I can’t take it anymore!!!’. Imagine a repetition of this converstion:
    Hubby: let me make dinner today
    Wifey: Sure, what are you going to make
    Hubby: Just beef stew.
    Wifey: oh ok. Let me dice onions, tomatoes, dhania.
    Hubby: Ah thanks dear.
    Wifey: well, let me also throw in some minji, carrots and potatoes.
    Hubby: lets just make it simple today.
    Wifey: So you don’t like it when I cook?
    Then lets say the in-laws learn of this, it will be said,’oh he doesn’t not appreciate when she cooks. Then fights. Point: due to cultural differences, there are prone to be much more misunderstandings.

    One the other hand, you can meet someone who is perfect for you. Communication is good and you compromise and get along well. In such a case I would definately give the relationship a shot. Some intercultural marriages have worked out, so can yours.

    Conclusion: both ends are correct to an extent. You won’t find out until you try :-):-):-).

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