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Mantalk: There is a new love language in town, it’s called ‘Nairobi single’



Mantalk: There is a new love language in town, it’s called ‘Nairobi single’

If there’s anything men are good at, it’s burrowing into a single task, until it is A.) either completed or B.) mostly completed. For instance, I have filed my taxes. Most of it anyway.

Similarly, ever since I became the Wikipedia version of ‘bachelor’—and I am not advertising my prowess this February—I have found a new lease on life and stumbled into an epiphany: you can be single without being a bachelor, but you cannot be a bachelor without being single.

Let me explain: There is a new phenomenon in town, or rather it has always been there. It’s called Nairobi single. It’s where you are uncoupled but enjoy all the benefits of a relationship—without the relationship. It’s a heaven Camelot for sinners and Kenyan men—pardon the tautology. In fact, I have Nairobi single friends who get laid more than eggs in Isinya.

For a bachelor, the knob turns slightly askew. We are averse to ploughing the field, not being in relationships, willing or otherwise. A bachelor is someone of the highest nobility, who not only puts himself first but does so with gusto, with the panache of an Italian mafia don.

In case no one has noticed, lately, I have reverted to wearing masks in town. Not because I am health conscious, which I am, but mostly because ‘love is in the air’—and I do not want to catch it. One lesson I learned a bit late in life, which I would advise any young man to heed, is to be a bachelor in their 20s, or at least not get married before they are 30.

I could be quixotic and tell you about the benefits and talk up the rainbow, but that’s why you are on Twitter. Granted, there are exceptions. There are many men who cracked the code and are happily married, but like Shakira’s hips, numbers too don’t lie. (Sorry I know I have used that joke before).

Our generation is more entitled. We feel the world owes us by virtue of our existence, but the world does not owe us s**t! it was here first. With all the rage about masculinity boiling to a fever pitch, I’ll encourage you to do the work within rather than try to change the next man.

Being a bachelor and loving it (oops! Sorry feminists!) is one of life’s treasures, happiness’ sleight of hand. But only if you make the right moves. And it’s not that we don’t love people, no, we actually go out on friendship dates.

Social media and dating sites have been the bane of relationships, perpetuating a hook-up culture that emphasises quantity over quality, turning serial dating into an art form. There is always a bigger, and better deal around the corner; an emotional wasteland that leaves us feeling ever lonely in a crowded room.

I for one like to live my life the way God intended—happy and single as the snake whispering to Eve suggested—and being a bachelor is the closest thing to being God’s favourite. I have no qualms lying about “being in a meeting” when I’m with my friends and no problem lying to my friends about “needing to work” when I am on TikTok. 

Too many men out here need to schedule visits to the chiropractor from the weight of carrying relationships they don’t need. Lest you misconstrue my words, I am not advocating for you burning your kinships. Contrary, I am egging you to learn how to be alone so you can show up for the people that matter. It’s not a disease.

When I had my stint in therapy, the one thing that surfaced was how co-dependent we tend to let ourselves be, dumping our emotional baggage on our partners, harbouring spades of anger and wistfulness from past love affairs, and how it can be incredibly daunting to shuck that load and fall in love again. We look for people to complete rather than complement our needs.

For argument’s sake, how can you say you are not corrupt without ever having been in a position to be corrupt? In the same vein, methinks you cannot be a good lover, partner or husband without being a great bachelor. 

We are long past the days of yore when the bachelor—middle- and working-class men—shot breeze in gambling houses and brothels and bars; when their independence and autonomy were heralded as markers of masculinity among their peers; when having a wife and children was a trap to be avoided for any man who valued his freedom. The bachelor then was a symbol of a hedonistic life that some men were leading, and others wished they could.

If you will allow me to borrow a note from the essay collection by writer Donald Mitchell, called Reveries of a Bachelor, published in 1850:

“Can a man stake his bachelor respectability, his independence, and comfort, upon the die of absorbing, unchanging, relentless marriage, without trembling at the venture? Shall a man who has been free to chase his fancies over the wide world, without let or hindrance, shut himself up to marriage-ship, within four walls called Home, that are to claim him, his time, his trouble, and his tears, henceforward forever more, without doubts thick, and thick-coming as smoke?”

Olds like to say that youth is wasted on the young. But I wager that to be a bachelor in today’s world is to learn the things that you value most, and to understand not just when to compromise, but what to compromise on. Instead of the mama’s boy who turns his underwear inside out after a day’s wear, have a go at defining your own life: The kind who volunteers to improve society. Who pays his taxes (ahem). Make yourself your biggest commitment, so self-aware that your mate Brayo’s kid squeezes your hand extra tight and says, “I wish you were my daddy.” Just make sure you’re not the other kind of tragic bachelor boy—the one your mother always warned you about. You know? The one with pictures of Rihanna plastered on his wall like some gauche simpleton. The one who only eats bread and avocado for supper. Or worse, runny eggs.

Many women hold true the suspicion that deep down, what keeps a man single is an obsession with sex. Maybe he is a Don Juan who gets off from his sexual conquests or, perhaps, a Mack daddy who tends to confuse sex with intimacy. No doubt these types exist. However, there are others who make a conscious choice to live as gentlemen of leisure, dilettantes who have learned to put themselves first. And when the time comes when they want to get married or hitched or coupled, they will learn to do the opposite of what drove their single life—which is putting yourself first. After all, isn’t life’s greatest yearning our unceasing need for deep attachment and intimate love?

PS: It’s been a year since we started this journey together. Put the champagne on ice—we have outlasted 70 per cent of Nairobi relationships. Happy anniversary! This is how it feels to be God’s favourite.

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