The year was 1993. Wu-Tang Clan had released their debut album, Snoop Dog had just introduced the world to his album “Doggy Style”, And Michael Jackson was being sued for sexually molesting a boy. Good old Bill Clinton was the president of the US, this was before he started giving Lewinsky, uhm, extra responsibilities, when he said the beautiful words, “Every important mistake I have made in my life, I made because I was too tired.” Meanwhile, music ruled our lives. We listened to Heavy D and The Boys, danced to Salt-N-Pepper and sang along to Maxi Priest and Bon Jamaicans.
We were the X-Generation, we were invincible.
Before us there was none, we were too cool for any school (which we couldn’t even be bothered to burn). Our parents were old, boring and outdated, and they wore hats we wouldn’t even feed a farm animal from. It was our time. We knew it all. We had crazy dreams and impossible hairstyles. (Ababu still does). There was nothing we couldn’t do, nothing we couldn’t become. We thought we would never grow old because our lives were infinite. Isn’t that the biggest folly of youth? That, one, it’s wasted on the young and two, that we think we are the chosen ones. The other day, driving down James Gichuru road I saw a Safaricom “Blaze” billboard screaming, “We Are The Chosen!” I felt a slight, lingering tinge of envy and nostalgia. Oh the good old days when we thought WE were the chosen ones, even though nobody erected billboards in our honour. Nobody had to, we just were.
In 1993 I was 15 years old. Toni Braxton was 25. My whole body burnt for Toni. Toni was in my dreams, whispering something in that throaty voice; Toni in those impossibly high heels, ass suspended against gravity, singing about her heart being unbroken. Before short hair became a thing Toni was already rocking it. Her chin, framed by that hair, tapered nicely, there are only two chins of that kind in the world. At some point in my life – when girls broke my heart and I still held novelty within it – I would sing her song “How Many Ways” word for word. I suspect I still can, but I’m afraid to try because I might sound a bit gay, because there is a way you have to twist your voice when singing R&B that is completely phony. If I ever meet Toni in person I know I will be very confused, I will probably speak to her in luo. I bet she will laugh and say, “Oh, you are from Nigeria?”
There are haters out there who inbox me saying stuff like, “Biko, your Toni is now dating Birdman,” and I sigh wearily because Birdman looks like a strange desert bird that eats rodents. Toni knows her way back home.
The early 90’s were marked by angst and beauty when we were boys wanting to be men but still doing things that boys did. We were smack in the eye of the teenage storm, fluttering in the wind, holding onto things we didn’t understand and some that we did. There was virginity and sex and fantasies and testosterone and breasts and ass and fear and peer pressure and the need to be cool.
And things happened to us – the men of the X-generation – that have remained unsaid, didn’t they?
Coming back home after a whole term in boarding school was always euphoric. There was always that unique smell of home. Every home has a particular smell. Ours smelled of bright light – we had these huge windows that brought in lots of light. Our sofas had vitambaas all over them. All mothers had an obsession with vitambaas when we were growing up. They had this maddening idea that even the radio system (that was the correct term) had to be covered by a kitambaa.
You’d come back home hungry, wolf down three to four chapos, watch a recorded musical on the VCR player, maybe step out into the estate and see who else had come back from school. Afternoons were so quiet, with all the kids in the estate away in school.
You’d probably be in small shorts and a tee-shirt, lounging around in the house listening to a tape of Jodeci or just reading a book. You’d be thinking of an excuse to tell your mom when she came back home, because your grades dropped this term and you know she will shake her head and give you a pep talk about how much she is sacrificing to send “you people” (like you didn’t belong to her) to school, and how all you have is education, and if you don’t perform well you will not amount to much in life. But until then you’d have the house to yourself, the metallic box you lugged from school now lying open in your bedroom with all your dirty clothes still there unpacked, and the whole bedroom smelling of your dormitory back in school.
Maybe you’d nap later. Maybe you’d watch some TV. Maybe you lie on bed and listen to the house help in the other bedroom humming away. Back then househelps were so young, they were sent from shags, young girls, probably 17 or even younger, with firm pointy breasts that never bowed. Maybe you’d go to the bedroom where she’d be ironing and sit on the opposite bed and tell her about boarding life and exaggerate some parts so you could see her eyes pop wide open as she laughed with disbelief. As she ironed she’d bend over and from where you sit you would see her breasts because they never wore bras and that sight, the sight of a real breast, made your heart beat so hard you were sure she would hear it across the room.
You were a teenager; maybe13 years old or even 14. You had never had sex before but your hormones were all out of funk and you were randy as a mountain goat.
So maybe the house help would finish ironing, fold clothes and put them away in the wardrobes then remove the blanket that she was ironing over and keep it away, then lay on bed because now all the work was done the way your mom liked it; the kitchen was clean, the sitting room was clean and the clothes washed and ironed, and she had two hours to burn before your siblings came back from school and she had to start making evening tea and then dinner and deal with your fussy mother in the kitchen. (Waah that’s a long sentence!)
So yes, maybe she lay down on the bed as you jabbered away, and then say she wanted to take a nap. Maybe you said you wanted to take a nap too, and she sighed, smiled and turned away to face the wall. You took that as a green light to join her. So maybe you went over and spooned next to her, you felt warmth of her body and how her hips perilously curved away from you. You lay still, and felt her body move up and down as she breathed and you stared at the back of her head. You could smell her, she smelled of soap and Lady Gay. Just lying next to her, feeling her body against yours gave you a boner so hard it could hang curtains. You are 13 or 14 years old, after all.
You tentatively placed your hand on her hip and she sighed and gently (reluctantly?) as she removed it. So you waited for another 30 seconds and put your hand back on her hip, and this time she didn’t remove it. So you left your hand there for a bit and it soaked up her body heat and at some point it felt like you were touching hot coals, and your hands started to tremble slightly.
So you moved closer, and snuggled and touched the back of her neck with your lips, the same lips that not so long ago were reciting Newton’s Law of Motion, and although she acted like she was keen on having an afternoon nap, she knew she would be having something else, and between you and me, Gang, it was not going to be forty winks. (Wink).
You could tell her breathing had changed to something deeper when you slipped your hands under her “Doom Dawa Ya Mende” t-shirt, and you cusped one of her breasts with the same hands you had used to titrate liquids in your chemistry class, and they felt so firm but so soft and so surreal you almost fainted. You held them for a bit and you recall thinking that they felt like heaven. You didn’t faint, you hung in there. You pressed yourself closer to her and she felt something hard against the small of her back and she could tell it wasn’t your mathematical set.
She sighed and emitted a small moan, a moan of resignation, a moan of a body that had betrayed her and then – like you remember reading in Mills and Boon – you slowly moved your hand down the length of her body, a body that had only just become a woman not too long ago, supple and ripe and enticing. Your slightly shaking hand slid under the band of her skirt and under her panties (probably purple) down to her young valley, now dewey with moisture. Then a sound escaped from one of you (you don’t remember who, but probably you) a gasp, a small excruciating moan…
Look you are 13-years old so maybe you last a good one minute before it’s all over but you don’t know any better and so you don’t say sheepishly, “This has never happened before,” instead you go back to your room; no pillow talk, no “where is this going”, no “do you really like me or you are just using me for sex?” no, “we can’t do this anymore,” just the sound of your bed folding under you as you climb on and you are out like a man. When your mother comes in the evening you are so scared that she might see through your amorous acts, but somehow she doesn’t see anything because she’s busy fussing at your school grades and asking the house help why she didn’t remember to boil the kunde.
Gang. I have been asking my peers, guys of the X-generation, guys who know Jazzy Jeff, if they, when they were young, had sex with the maid. I’ve been polling guys between 32 and 44 years of age and 90% admitted to having had sex with their House Help while growing up.
I asked one guy and he told me that when he was 13, their Help (19 years old) used to blackmail him to have sex with her or else she would report him to his mom whenever he would go to play out after school.
“She molested you!” I shrieked piteously, “You poor baby! Do you now wake up in the middle of the night screaming, ‘Roda, don’t touch me there!!’” He laughed and said, “Uhm, I really didn’t mind that level of blackmail.” Such a sick child.
Last Friday I was at Mercury ABC having a tipple and I happened to be on the same table with a famous local Deejay (no, it wasn’t Creme’) whom I really didn’t know well but after a few drinks, you really don’t need an icebreaker do you? So at some point I leaned in and asked him, “Hey, can I ask you something personal? When you were growing up, did you at some point, you know, ‘do’ the house help?” and he looked at me for a beat and said, “Of course, didn’t we all munch the Help?”
I stopped my poll that night.
Can guys who studied human psychology weigh in here please? Is Dr. Frank Njenga in the house? Daktari, what does this mean for the X-generation? What kind of men do we turn into after this kind of socialization? What kind of boyfriends, husbands, and fathers do we eventually become after we got it on with the Help as kids?
I told a friend this story and she said, “No, these boys didn’t have sex with these older Helps, the Helps had sex with these boys and it’s disgusting.” Of course it is, us guys being molested while young, being lured into the arms of these Helps. But I’m curious to know what does this means to the X-Generation, though? What was the impact of that in our adulthood?
Now when someone cuts me off on the road, or honks at me furiously when the light turns green, I will not cuss, I will breath in deeply and tell myself, “ Oh, X-Generation, he was probably molested by the House Help as a boy.” If someone who is in their mid-to late 30’s or early 40’s doesn’t reply your emails swiftly, or return your calls, they probably were taken advantage of by the maid. If you see a loud chap in the bar don’t judge him too harshly, he was probably touched inappropriately by the Help. I suspect that half the Kenyan chaps on Tinder shagged the Help. Those and 40-year olds who like to say “YOLO.”
Do a poll of your own; ask your 35-yrs-plus boyfriend/ husband if they had a go at the Help when he was a tiny boy. Don’t, like, ask him today or tomorrow because he will be ready. Wait until the weekend when he isn’t expecting it. Ask him over dinner or when he is saying something about his mechanic or he’s lying on the sofa, a TV remote in hand. Just blurt,”Did you ever sleep with the Help as a boy?” If he laughs and shifts in his chair, he did the Help. If he says in that shrill voice, “What?” He did it. If he touches his face, he did it. If he laughs and says, “Noo! Jeez.” He did it. If he says, “Seriously? You read that rubbish Biko writes?” He so did it.
All the same, the cows have come home to roost, gentlemen. We can either fight the past, or we can say, fine, maybe we took too seriously that adage, “Charity Begins at Home.”