At our home, we have a wooden door that has two stickers. The words on it are: ‘Father means you are taking care of your children. Husband means you are taking care of your wife. You are accepting the responsibilities of manhood. -Malcolm X’ Both stickers have the same words; one sticker at the top of the door and the other at the middle. You know, in case the man walking in is short or tall, we have you sorted. The words are for you. Coming from a family blessed with daughters, this set the bar for all of us. Our father taught us what being a good father and husband means and our mother taught us to never settle for less than what we truly deserve or make us happy.

Being a naturally observant person, I came to realize how appealing this theory of ‘All men are the same’ is. We do have some significant characteristics that you’d find in men; most men or all men but there’s still a difference. And sometimes the differences are so big you’d think some are men from different clay. Perhaps one lot is made from clay blue marble and another from soft clay and maybe another from kaolin? Only God knows. Like you know, the easiest example is say ‘All men like football’ or cars or even play station. While significantly many of them do, several others don’t. A lady will most probably assume this man she just met likes football because well that’s the norm, until she realizes he doesn’t. So when men mess up and then another messes up, its so easy to put the pieces as one and put them into the same basket. As we say in Kiswahili, ‘yai moja likioza yote yaoza’ and that’s how we just take it.

There is a fairly elderly man that I know, who twenty years after his marriage, still treats his wife like a queen. When it gets to 12 noon, you’d see him drop everything to go pick his wife for lunch and when he is running late, he would literally panic. In your mind you’s think perhaps his wife is the dominant, intimidating kind but no. His wife is so quiet, so reserved. So it has nothing to do with a woman ‘kumkalia chapati’. The man just loves and respects his wife. This is twenty years later my friend, not within one or two years or within the honeymoon period. I also know of another man who lets his wife run all the financial matters in the house, investments and all the projects that they handle together. It is not a matter of control or a competition on who is man enough or a feminist. It’s all a matter of the respect two people decide to give each other and how far their trust goes. These are just two examples but there are several good men out there; responsible husbands, great fathers and role models for their children. Men who know how to be kind and compassionate to their families. Well, where does this brand of men come from? Different type of clay?

Some time back this one man married the woman he loved. She was beautiful. You know the modern society ‘beautiful’? That high bar classification of modern beauty? Yes she was that beautiful. She is from a noble family with hair to her waist. You’d think love and beauty will be enough to keep a marriage together but it rarely does. Years down the line, the man is seated across the room from where I am seated, praising his third wife after divorcing the other two. Speaking of how his current loves him and spends on him as he shows off the gifts. I then remember his first wife. The woman tried. God knows she did all she could to ensure he never looks or marries another woman. Yet she didn’t succeed. Despite all her strengths and her good traits. I am not being judgmental because only God and them know why the previous marriages didn’t work but I just think of this poor lady rejoicing over her new catch and probably doing all she can to ensure he doesn’t go anywhere else. But we all know the truth don’t we? That a man can’t be kept. He chooses to stay. A man can’t be changed. He chooses to change himself. I do sincerely wish this lady and this man that their happiness lasts but them aside, we know that the reality is more cruel than that. We know there’s only so much a woman can do to make her husband love her and stay with her.

A man can’t be bought into settling down. A man can’t be seduced by beauty if he decides not to care about that specific beauty. You could be the most humble human being, best manners and the ideal wife. You could do all the tricks they mention on the internet and relationship books. Yet if this man decides not to look at you or care about you and your children then that’s just it. If he ever changes then it is because it was his personal choice to appreciate what you do for him. You could have the curves all men crave for but he could still decide to cheat on you. So no honey. Men are not the same. Another kind of man, another breed, the one made from the other special kind of clay wouldn’t make you feel inferior or mock you in any way even if your face is full of pimples and acne or you gained a little more weight this month. He wouldn’t humiliate you in front of your children just because you aren’t such a good cook. He would strive to be better so both of you can both grow financially, spiritually and mentally. If a man truly loves his wife, he’d go out of his way to ensure things work. You think this is too fairy taley? No its not. Our society has just put the wrong idea of marriage and love and family in our heads, when a man acts right, it is so unusual for us, we think the woman has done something to him.

There are many kinds of men out there. Some who are hard like rocks and stern like robots. They wouldn’t even ask your opinion on which school to take your own child. And there are men whose compassion fluctuates like their mood swings. Today they decide to be kind and treat their wives like queens and the next day they decide spending time at home is unmanly so he’d rather go at the baraza to sit idly with friends. And there are men who make their wives their partners and they communicate efficiently and work to build their marriages just like they build their careers. And there are those who live like bachelors despite having a wife waiting for them at home. And some are just dead beat fathers. Those who are joyful and charming to the entire world except his wife and children. And there are those who are like the butterflies; they fly to the flower for pollination and once its done, they go for more attractive flowers. Others just marry to have someone cook and wash their clothes and take care of their needs. And there are those who trust their wives to the extent of handing them their passwords and bank pins and allow them to have a say in everything. It goes on and on. All you could ever do as a woman is pray to have a proper man who will raise proper children who in turn will be proper sons and future fathers.

The world is not just black and white. Its the same with men.