By Lubnah Abdulhalim

Photo Courtesy: Salem_Beliegraphy

The first thing any parent would ask you when you go ask for their daughter’s hand is, ‘what do you do for a living?’ of course it is their right to ask that. All parents want the best for their children and when you mention that your job is carrying cement, the first instinct would be that you wont be able to provide for their daughter and the children to come. Well maybe it would be your duty to prove them wrong by elaborating how you have a plan for the future. Parents easily get impressed when they see someone had previously arranged for their future; say, you have a saving account that was just for your wife-to-be and children and so on. of course it will be tough to convince them that carrying cement can make you sustain a family so maybe it is up to you to put in the effort to prove them wrong. But the question one should ask themselves is, ‘is it really worth it?’ Sometimes you may do all you can to show the parents of the girl that you can take up full responsibility, they will still put up walls to prevent you from marrying their daughter. But that is where we are always advised to marry/get married from people with same backgrounds as us because there will always be a time whereby the issue of class will be an issue between the two families. If you are hustling and you go approach a family whereby their daughter wakes up to find breakfast on her bed, then they will obviously not want any less than that. If their daughter is always in a prado, they will expect you to drive her in nothing less than a prado let alone make her board a matatu. As much as this is a wrong way of living and thinking but this is the reality. For you, providing ugali for both lunch and dinner may be what you consider as enough to sustain a family while for someone else, sustaining a family means being able to provide for their daughter a full meal from starters to the dessert. And this is how most people end up being rejected in families. I will repeat, it is not the right way of thinking or even living because this is definitely not what our prophet p.b.u.h taught us but nonetheless, sadly, not everyone is ready to follow his example. But still, we are taught to believe in qadar; which is our destiny, and if Allah has already planned that you marry this girl from a higher social class than you, you will still marry her by God’s will, even if the whole world is against the marriage.

So parents always have this notion of, ‘ah what will I be telling people when they ask what my son-in-law or even son is doing?! How can I say he is does a bodaboda business/sells vegetables in the market or that he is a carpenter?!’ Why? because to them this is not cool; not classy. And this is even why you rarely see Mombasa youth driving bodabodas or selling vegetables in the market; because they have always heard it from their parents criticizing such jobs, so they too grow up with the notion that it is not their standard to have such jobs. They would rather stay jobless and keep complaining about leaders who haven’t accomplished the promise of providing proper jobs. Truth be said here, we have jobs like the matatu industry, these people earn a very good amount of cash per day than quite some people working in offices. But there is also this perception of matatu workers being miraa chewers and drunkards and so on and the parents therefore wouldn’t really accept a matatu worker to join their family. We can’t really blame them for such a perception because this bad image exists but nonetheless, you won’t miss some of the matatu workers who are clean from any kind of drugs and may be all they have to do is prove it…but again, only when it is worth it and when you know your efforts can bring out a good result of being accepted in the family.

As much as we will blame the youth for only seeking what is cool in their eyes, the bigger blame goes to the parents. When they see that their sons can’t get an office job, then they would rather send them to Dubai or Suudiya or Qatar so they work there. Funny thing is, the jobs that they are given over there can still be done here but their hilarious notion is ‘I’d rather that my son sweeps the streets of Dubai rather than Kenya or Mombasa.’ Why? because to them it is really cool to say ‘my son works in an Arab country or abroad’ irregardless of what they are doing there. And the people being told this rarely ask ‘what kind of a job is he doing in Dubai?’ all that matters is that he is not here and he is there. Some would give the excuse that doing the local jobs in the Arab countries will be earn them more but hey, how do we forget to account for the lifestyle there? The high and expensive lifestyle there will end up draining the money just like the way the struggles of our country would have costed. And if there is any difference, we have to admit, it’s not really that big not unless we are talking of professional jobs.

Sometimes, working out there becomes the easy ticket of being accepted as a son-in-law. This is a stupid way of thinking honestly because it is just like those people who do business just so that they are recognised as business men even when they are not benefiting from it. As in kiswahili we commonly say, ‘yani bora wao wajulikane wana biashara tu! ata kama haileti faida!’ They’d rather drive a prado bought from lent money rather than own a bicycle bought from their own sweat.

Sadly, we have let our egos take over us and now all that matters is our outside image; how our neighbours will see us, our class and our standards, be seen driving a mercedes even when the petrol was bought from lent or even stolen money, even when in reality inside our homes we are dying from hunger. Just because it is cool? That is sooo NOT cool!

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A freelance writer, journalist, poet and blogger venturing mainly in social and community issues, study and analysis of behaviour and life, and the plight of the under-dogs in the society. 'I feed on human stories.'

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