Kenya: Should a Woman Propose to a Man?

After dating for five years, she recently made her move -- held his hand and told him, "will you marry me?"

It's one of those love stories that you read in the inside pages of the weekend newspapers. The type which you read in your pyjamas, your lukewarm cup of tea by your side.

They met in a queue at the crack of dawn during the 2013 elections. Even at that wintry hour, the queue snaked out of the school and around it like a caterpillar's body. Voters protectively hugged their votes in the cold.

She was wearing a big woollen hat, like a beanie, looking like she writes poetry for a living, or acts in theatre. (She's a financial analyst but with an artistic heart, that's why we are friends).

They struck a conversation and talked for hours because what else do you in a queue? They were both voting for different candidates.


Both from different sides of the river. Different political persuasion. But the same social class. (Later it will soon emerge that their favourite fruit is the mango).

Later, as the nation was busy splitting hairs over who had won those elections, they were busy breaking bread in cafes, clinking glasses in moody restaurants, ignoring the hubbub of political pundits, armchair analysts and the political talking heads that kept everybody glued to TV screens.

She thought he was handsome, charming, kind and had a bagful of ridiculous stories that made her giggle loudly like she was in a market place in shags.(We call those places benga, in the tongue of my dear departed mother. A lovely name, ey?).

She thought he was a gentleman, a rare breed for she was just meeting men who wanted to get in her pants or spend her money or both.

I don't know what he thought of her because I don't know him. I never met him.


They started dating. Year one, two, three, four. In 2017, they were still dating. They went to vote again together, in the same voting centre, for the same people they voted for four years ago.

But although things were going great between them, she was getting restless. She wanted to know "where this was going".

Surely, how many elections would they vote to as boyfriend and girlfriend? How many political leaders would they birth together?

She was in her late 30s, he was a year or two older than her, never married, no children or pets or plants. He seemed happy with this status - to date, to vote and do it all over again together after four years.

So for some reason one day recently, on their date night, a Sunday evening in a swish restaurant with a burning candle and lingering background music, she made her move.


She held his hand and said things that lovers say when they want to make an important announcement. She told him, "will you marry me?"

Yes, I know, dear readers! She proposed to him! Of course she didn't have a ring. She just had faith and nerve and love.

Or what the people who have read a lot of English would prefer to call chutzpah. He must have blinked, like I said, I wasn't there, but he must have blinked several times, like a deer caught in the headlights, and swallowed hard and said, "Uhm, OK ... . yeah, why not?"

When someone says why not, it means they don't really mind what you are proposing.

It means they are not completely averse to it neither are they sold to it entirely. Example: "Would you like to go outside and watch the full moon?" Answer: Yeah, why not.

To mean, really if I don't watch the moon I won't lose my hair. It's no skin off my nose. You don't say "why not" if someone asks for your hand in marriage.


You either say no (and run the hell out of that restaurant and her/his life) or you say, yes, yes, I'd love to marry you, are you kidding me! You fill my life with untold joy and mangoes!

Anyway, six months later and now he "wants space, to think things through". He isn't saying the wedding is off, though, he's just saying that he needs space to think things through. Perhaps things are moving on too fast for him.

Maybe this marriage thing was never in the cards. Anyway, this lady asked me what I think of this situation because I'm a man and yes, we all think the same way, don't we?

I told her that "it seems" to me that he doesn't want to get married. (If you are reading this sir, you are welcome!). I told her that she seemed to have jumped the gun.


That if he wanted to get married he would have proposed to her. "I thought men want a woman who takes charge?" She asked me piously.

Yeah, of course, I said, is his father also going to give him away to you? If the answer is no, then that's the wrong kind of charge. "What do I do now?" she asked. I said, "you wait".

I don't know about the next man, but I'd not want a lady proposing to me. It's awkward. It would be less uncomfortable trying to domesticate a crocodile.

It also feels emasculating. Maybe we are living in different times and this is the future, but I don't subscribe to it.

I'm averse to a woman proposing to her man, it just upsets the natural order of things. You don't have to swim upstream all the time like motivational books tell us. Sometimes it's OK to just swim downstream.

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