How To Be A Man

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The beauty of having a protege is that you can call them at some random hour and say, “Mluhya, uko sawa? I had a bit to drink this weekend, do you want to bang something for Tuesday?” Of course they can’t say no, not after you have always fed them a lot of pep talk about preparedness, seeing and grabbing an opportunity and, most importantly,  showing up. And because they happen to be fantastic writers they will say, “Of course, I can bang something today.”

“Great, what about?”

“About being a man.”

“What about?”

“You will read it.”

“OK.”

“By the way, it’s my birthday tomorrow. Will you do something?”

“Something small?”

“Or big, you are a bazu.”

“Ha, buttering me up. What are you doing for your birthday?”

“I’m leaving town.”

“With someone’s daughter?”

“Maybe.”

“Sawa. Don’t do something small. Have fun.”  

Eddy Ashioya turned 28. I think he feels some type of way about that. Maybe he feels that the sky has moved lower over his head. Maybe he thinks he should have had a baby by now. Or learn how to tame monkeys. Who knows. 

 

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BY EDDIE ASHIOYA

Nobody ever asks how to be a woman. It is sort of implied. But to be a man, there are all these sets of rules you need to follow. 

There is something raunchy and forbidden about the word man. Saying it feels a little aggressive, almost braggadocio. Man. An icon of invulnerability, the billboard of toughness, a Wikipedia version of aloofness. Man. A casanova. A prodigal. Even a rascal. It’s not who he is, it’s how he is perceived. 

A man eats class for breakfast. He brings it even when he doesn’t have to. And I was bringing it this weekend. It was my birthday and while I was holed up in a man cave cottage up north, I got to thinking of all the old-fashioned rugged men who have been circling my life, doling out wisdom, of what it is to be a man. I relished the stereotypes that are oft lampooned in the mediarugged beard, watching world war films, dripping machismo and oozing malandro charm. This, I’m told by people much cooler than me, is the way to live. 

Me, myself, I am staring down the barrel of a gun, and that gun is loaded with the responsibilities of a man, and no matter how far I run, my back remains the target. I’m a millennial so of course you know I did that very millennial thing of photographing every goddamn thing during my birthday, because it’s good for my brand.  And that’s the thing that got me thinking, who, nay, what is a man? 

So, if you’ll humor this youngish geezer for just a moment, I have some pretty insightful suggestions of what it is to be a man. At least from where I sit. Take it with a pinch of salt, man. 

A man should never ask how to be a man because then that implies that a man doesn’t know how to be a man. A real man…would not be reading this…and was probably born before 1945.

Everyone knows your name but they call you ‘Boss’ anyway. You party at a nightclub where your bouncer’s name is Weida and his nickname is Steve.  That’s why you drive only manual cars. It’s part of your self-made mythos. Cars are culture. Any man knows that. You can’t be like, okay, I drive a Juke because it has great milieage. No, if you drive a Juke, you’ve joined a tribe. 

While a woman’s skin is soft like a dying lotus, a man’s skin is thick like the road to hell, or a Game of Thrones plothe might look soft, but he’s made of sinew. The modern man should never let people know when his ego has taken a beating. He acts as if everything is going swimmingly, until it finally is. 

Even during those moments when your chest tightens and someone cuts onions near your eyes? Those are just brain dookies, or ‘feelings’ as my therapist likes to call them, filling up in your chest-testicle, or ‘heart’ as it is popularly known. 

A man never stares but knows how to sneak a look. You know what I’m talking about, right? When his woman is bending over and he feels that thrum that only a man can feel. A man should have several girlfriends but make sure these girlfriends never meet each other…or the wife. 

He gets shit done. You service a well-oiled beard and know exactly which café joint to go to (not that one). Plus, you make a wicked guacamole-omelet combo that slaps differently, that one can hardly taste the shame you feel for watching Gilmore Girls. A good guacamole-omelet combo is a left-brain, right-brain deal. It’s the boiling water of the cooking industry. 

A man should never curse. Shit. Oops. 

If a man has to watch a panther, then that panther can only be Black, not pink. Mails (man nails) a man should trim those. He should be fit, if you like that sort of thing. 

Like most red-blooded African men, kindness is a soft power, unleashed at the most opportune times. 

A man could be misinformed, uninformed, as long as it has ‘informed.’ I am from the dyed-in-the-wool school of thought that a man should try at least once to let the girlfriend order for him. I like ordering for my girlfriend but the day she ordered me one? A barely touched plate of organic greens and lemon water put a halt to that. 

And…a man should always wake up earlier than the Missus even if said man has nowhere to go, or if the Missus has a 4AM meeting. A man must never be outwoken, outworked, or outshone. 

A man should understand that he can be first in everything, except commenting. That’s not his job. In fact a man should never comment unless the man is well informed on the topic. But because a man is always informed, a man should be the last to comment, to point out everyone else’s glaring idiocy.

A man can tame lions, domesticate coyotes but it is (perfectly) okay if he is terrified of cockroaches. Those things are hideous and move at wicked speeds. A man has a right to fear a cockroach. But shouldn’t a man face his fears? Well, that too. But who’s to say facing your fears cannot also be about looking away? Nobody, that’s who. 

Which reminds me, a man should watch (hehe) his eye contact. Very intense eye contact can feel like an intrusion, the sort of look that detectives at DCI give you. You want to achieve Aristotle’s Golden Meannot too intense, not too subtle. Very subtle eye contact can make people look at you longer or make strangers think you are genuinely interested in their opinion about Bata ngomas, the overuse of water bottles in town, overusing water bottles while wearing Bata ngomas…   

A man pees while standing up. And shakes. That is independence. Whether in the bush or in a lodge, it’s an in-the-marrow instinct. It’s silent theatre. It’s our way of connecting with nature. Freedomjust how God intended it. 

He can spit in the air, watch the saliva land and tell youexactlywhat time it is. Or he can look at the sky and tell you it is raining in Naivasha, while he is Namanga. That’s what a man can do. By the way, it’s raining in Naivasha. 

He can also dance. It’s not that he must. It’s that he can. Nevertheless, dancing is generally to be dodged.  

Don’t be a victim. Don’t complain. Don’t unleash a salvo on Twitter. Actually, don’t be on Twitter. Unless you are funny. Are you funny? You are? The more reason to be off Twitter. And while we are at it, the modern man has never ‘pinned’ a tweet, and he never will. 

A man should not have a potbelly. It doesn’t matter if he is practicing body positivitya man’s tummy must be flat because his life isn’t. But if a man has a potbelly, then he should not be ashamed of it. A man owns his flaws, and rocks them like a designer piece. Except in the case of a forehead. There’s no coming back from that one. It’s just…weird. 

A man should always sleep at the edge of the bed. It doesn’t matter if his wife has an early morning, a man will already be up by the time his wife realizes that she has snoozed the alarm five times. A man should always sleep in only two positions: with his back on the mattress, his face mano-a-mano with God, in case the Most High calls him, or on his left side, to leave his right hand free to swat away mosquitoes and protect his kingdom, but mostly just to hold his woman’s boobs. A man is allowed to have a favourite boob but never let the wife know. Tip: In my experience, the left boob is always bigger. Don’t ask me how I know. A man just knows stuff. 

Stuff like, a man knows the right kind of shoes to wear. His family will detect his mood by the stump of his Chelsea boots.

He listens. Or appears to be listening because a man never really hears what anyone is saying. A man’s standard response, when asked what he is thinking about, is, “nothing”. Because that’s true. A man doesn’t think. A man does. 

Appetite—he has that. That is what defines a man. A picky eater maketh not a good man. A man understands that we can be called to serve our countries at any time…and that means joining an army. Whether it is the military or the salvation army, no need to split hairs, army is army. 

Besides, a man can live in a house for 35 years and still not know where the salt is kept. We just don’t do that. Plus, a man can eat anything and everything. It is a jungle out here. If a man doesn’t like a particular meal, he will develop a palette for it. Because that’s what men do. We survive. And we make the mundane look like the best thing that ever happened, because a man has taste, pun aside.  

Speaking of, a man must date up and marry even further up. Why? A man does not need to explain himself. A man will not explain himself. 

When a man gets a cold, the president should be on standby to institute a state of emergency. A man can be bitten by a venomous snake, grazed by a grizzly bear or thrown in a furnace like Daniel, Meshack and that other one whose name I keep forgetting, but flu is where it’s at. Flu is a man’s Achilles heel. Samson had hair, Solomon had women, the modern man has the flu. 

A man should never say ‘I don’t know’. Remember a man can be misinformed or ill-informed. He has to know something. Except when asked, “Who is Susan?’ or “Where is the saltshaker?” which to us sounds the same. Then here the standard response is, “I don’t know.” 

If a man is forced to cook but doesn’t want to cook, the man will intentionally confuse white pepper with salt. The man will feign excitement and leave the kitchen a hot mess. Then the man will be banned from ever stepping foot in the kitchen. The man has played the long game, and his stocked library collection of Sun Tzu’s Art of War is finally paying dividends. 

Does the modern man enjoy being a little spoon? What do you think? Does the sun shine at night? The answer, as we all now know, is no. This study has been corroborated by a Scientist. Sometimes, my friends call me ‘Scientist.’ 

A man believes that the greatest movie ever filmed was The Joker. Because life is a sad comedy and the fiend is sometimes the hero, and we’re all just clowns hiding under life’s masks.  He tests his friends by the number of times they have watched the Joker, there is no correct answer but the wrong answer is anything less than 10. The Godfather comes a close second simply because the salacious outfits were way ahead of their time. Fight Club is not too bad either. Men, all of them.

If ever a man is feeling weary, he must remember that life is for the tough. A man does not need motivation, a man needs discipline. And a healthy credit score. That means a man should pay his debts, unless he has a friend at KRA, then that friend should always remind him to pay his debts or they will come for him. 

A man is not passive-aggressive. He does not put quotes on WhatsApp statuses to aim subtle digs. He swallows it, or looks for the person and talks it out. Or he ghosts. Either way, a man should dance with his demons, take a long hard look in the mirror and avoid the temptation to take a bathroom selfie. It never turns out good. Especially if you have a potbelly. 

A man is indifferent to candles. And cushions. Meh.

Sunglasses? What are those? A man should not wear anything other than doctor-prescribed goggles. Anything else is pretentious. A man should penetrate people with his steely gaze, until they cower in submission or avert their gazes. His invisible grip should enable him to close deals, or simply get forgiven for being out past curfew hours…whether it’s from the government, or the Government (the missus). 

A man will not try to extend writing this piece just so he can meet the editorial guidelines. No. A man will pretend that his editor, who is also his boss, has watched The Joker and realized that it is very dangerous to undermine the underdog. A man is not threatening his editor. A man is just saying. 

The modern man only stocks regular drinks like Coke or whiskey. If you strut into his patio, screaming for soda water, he’ll show you the door. 

A man should support Arsenal at least once in his lifetime so that he learns how to experience hope, fear and death in one breath. 

The modern man makes it his life’s purpose to use the proper name for things. For instance, he’ll say ‘Naivasha’, not ‘’Vasha’, or ‘Biashara’ not ‘Shara’ like some off-color gauche simpleton. 

A man reads sophisticated tomes, like Philip Roth, Ogden Nash. He sprinkles this in his conversations, shaking the foundations of his friendship. A man who has read Ogden Nash understands that the day your descendants outnumber your friends; a man knows he is old. 

From time to time, a man plays the odd sport. Sudoku. Chess. Never Super Mario. Logic-based games like chess have been known to increase memory, keep you younger, and give you stronger erections. Okay, I made up that last part but you get the point. 

A man should know that there is only one way to buy your woman the perfect dress size: 1. Don’t.

A man also knows that teenage girls want an ear, not advice. The same goes for their mothers.

A man does not write lists of what a man is or what a man is not. A man just is. Not the man. Just a man. Even if you are wearing a tutu.

 

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121 Comments
      1. The protege is not playing games. This was some sleek writing.

        Haven’t plugged my writing in a minute but this here paragraph, “…A man never stares but knows how to sneak a look. …” reminded me of this post I wrote on my now apparent failure at manliness, https://muwado.com/tempt-ass-tion/

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  1. Awesome!! A man should not make a comment of another man’s post but if he makes it should not be a praise. Men dont do that, its for the other gender

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  2. What life has taught me is that the ‘what a man is checklist’ has been created by the society to hold men accountable and hold them to a higher standard considering that men are expected to show the way both at home and in public. My wife tells me that she always preferred her men watching the BBC and Al Jazeera and reading WSJ and NYT. That way, she knew she was not going to fret over her man feeling insecure when she talks about a new podcast by Adam Grant or the new book by Malcolm Gladwell. She previously experienced men who felt threatened by her having an opinion over the status of Golan Heights. I think when it comes to showing leadership, the society and even most women prefer a man that will lead; a man who shows the way. That is not asking too much.

    However, with the proliferation of meninist drivel on social media and with the likes of Amerix convincing men that they ought to have a fat bank balance and not a fat tummy, we need to have a conversation on manhood. It is only a man who never attended a biology class who thinks that all men should have a beard and that staring at a fellow man means you are not straight. It is only a man who has never been laid who thinks that one must play tough in the dating game so as to make a woman’s sexual juices flow and long for that clueless fellow’s spongy appendage. It is only an idiot who thinks that a flat tummy equals good sex and vice versa. It is only a deluded man who believes that a man who cooks for his family is a cuckodled man (I don’t know if I spelled that right because I see it being used on Masculinity Saturdays). It is only a man with a room temperature IQ who believes that the number of women one sleeps with determines his manhood. With HIV/AIDS and other venereal diseases on the prowl, only a man seeking to win Darwin’s Award lives by such nonsensical standards.

    If your worth as a man is determined by how low or inferior you are going to make the women in your life feel, then you are not a man but a malignant and narcissistic opportunist who views women as objects to be held and owned. If you are a man who believes that women are a threat to your success, then you are the reason we keep having to be reminded how awful we have become as the one half of a species by satirical pieces such as this one by mluhya.

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    1. I love the reminder about HIV/AIDS, I’m surprised that some people still think of being a man as having many girlfriends and a wife. Very backward thinking. Thanks for pointing that out. It’s an interesting read but such ideologies are what is messing our families today. Women are not objects. Thanks

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    2. Thank you for this depth. A man learns how to be secure enough to respect the power of choice. You can’t allow or disallow a woman to do anything because you don’t have that power. All you can do is make the right choices for you and adjust to what the other person chooses. Because as one secure, strong, son of the soil you know its not a must. Its not a must to give in to your impulses. You won’t die after all. Its not a must to pull people down and make women feel like trash because you have high value. You pull them up. Its not a must to give in to traditional society’s old school paradigm that a man can’t be told anything. It’s his way or the highway. Because you realize the world is not your football to kick in the the direction you please.

      Its not a must to sleep with countless women and call them hoes. Because you realize, you are the hoe.

      But knowing purpose and going hard after it. Embracing character and integrity and working daily for progression not perfection.

      A man does not threaten Bikozulu haha.

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  3. A man has read and is deeply impressed. The man wishes you keep on writing like this. A man should also not threaten Bikozulu

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  4. In fact a man should never comment unless the man is well informed on the topic. But because a man is always informed, a man should be the last to comment, to point out everyone else’s glaring idiocy.” lesson learnt

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  5. A man will not try to extend writing this piece just so he can meet the editorial guidelines. No. A man will pretend that his editor, who is also his boss, has watched The Joker and realized that it is very dangerous to undermine the underdog. A man is not threatening his editor. A man is just saying

    I thought I had my breath right until this part

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  6. ” Plus, you make a wicked guacamole-omelet combo that slaps differently, that one can hardly taste the shame you feel for watching Gilmore Girls.”…… Say what!!?

  7. I was today years old when I discovered I am actually a man. World War movies? Bring it on. The only thing disqualifying me is that I don’t/can’t pee while standing and/or shake it off. Yuck.

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  8. Ati ” A man should support Arsenal at least once in his lifetime so that he learns how to experience hope, fear and death in one breath.”…Hahahahahahaha! Bure kabisaaa

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  9. Ei, i coud not finish this. Too predictable. Started zoning out somewhere in there. i give up. Happy birthday Eddy. Just be you, the rest of us can shove it.

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  10. The first paragraphs were catchy and I was afraid you may not maintain the tempo..how wrong was I? Good work Eddy.

    1. Ha ha ha I read it in a mix of Morgan Freeman voice, and the guy who did the voiceover on 300, plus Anthony Hopkins

  11. And a man should not make a comment of another man’s post but if he makes it should not be ‘first here’

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  12. Nikona comments leo! Now Eddy and I are agemates I believe (maybe some 4months apart), and I do feel like there’s rules around ‘how to be a woman’. Be smart and successful, but subservient. Strong but demure and effeminate. Have children & a husband by dirty thirty. I envy men their freedom. I always said if I were a man, I would make mistakes and gallivant and generally live a responsible but laissez faire life. I would eschew the ‘respectability responsibility’ (read – kids, wife, a mortgage etc.) until 40. I recently discovered ‘John Muir’ an environmentalist who fed his wanderlust and love for nature and only wed at 40. He said “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark”. I envy him his life trajectory.

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  13. I’m a guinea pig. Tried and tested.

    If you engage in Chess, a logic-based game

    You will be forever young with mystic, solid, hard erection

    Superb content here

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  14. Omwami, you’ve done well and with time, it shows, you are getting better. I will not come here and compare you to Biko same way, I never compared Biko to Pala.

    You have a special pen that no one else but you can use. Its your ink. I enjoyed!!

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  15. Interesting read, should we call it ‘The Way of Men’ by Eddy…
    Even with those ‘potential benefits’ of supporting Arsenal we are not supporting a club whose fans are more serious than the players
    Apart from Eddy’s reasons for sleeping in the left position, the left lateral position is also the recovery position in case something happens

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  16. Most of this about men is true especially men never knowing where anything is (even when something is right under their nose) and expecting the woman to have an answer all the time as to where things are.Thank you Biko for your consitency and predictability about your Tuesday ‘story’.

  17. Amerix: Looks at his audience. Smirks then clears his throat and growls:
    “A man can really be one thing: an alpha-male. If you’re not an alpha-male, you are probably a simp. You deserve better. Do better!”

    Eddy Ashioya with his mouth full of cheese cake: “Errrr….You mean beta? I think a man is free to be whomsoever he wants to be. He can be an alpha, a beta, a delta, a gamma, a sigma or whatever letter of the Greek alphabet he chooses….”

    Audience blinks and gasps.

    “Infact, if it rocks your boat, put on your tutu and throw baby showers with your pals. You’re still a man, albeit one with class.” *winks at his audience and lifts his glass of lemonade.

    The crowd breaks into a standing ovation.

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    1. Side note: Maybe it should be that only simps need a sexist affirmation to feel better about their manhood. A weak man projects his inadequacy at women by chanting halcyon nonsense from a bygone era where manhood was defined by misplaced honour and fears.

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  18. A meandering airy-fairy take on manhood. This is inexcusably cringeworthy. You can do better. What in actual hell is this man?

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  19. I actually looked down to see if my left is bigger. Awesome piece Eddy. Happy Birthday. Someone needs cows if you are taking their daughter North in the rain.

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  20. ‘A man must never be out-woken, outworked, or outshone.’ Ashioya, a saying ‘Ogden Roth’ would be proud of, yes.

    World War II docus are best watched by men with mayonnaise dripping off their moustache, and the tangy bite of Moscow Mule on their lips.

    ‘The Joker’? That’s a joke! For real blokes, bronze for macho movie goes to Fight Club, silver to ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and gold to the bio-pic of the ultimate macho dude – ‘The People versus Larry Flynt’ ( who got porn again before he tied) …

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  21. ❤️Great writing, I was hooked till the end. I haven’t met a man with a big forehead though

  22. What a read! What humour! What a man! Great read Eddy.
    Oh, by the way, you are into guacamole now? Like mentor, like protege, huh?

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  23. “Nobody ever asks how to be a woman. It is sort of implied. ”
    Cause everyone has always been telling us how to be!

  24. The forehead thing was totally aimed at Biko and we all know it… A girl is just saying. A girl’s heart also jumped when she heard that Eddy Ashioya is turning 28. A man needs to make his move soon.

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  25. “Nobody ever asks how to be a woman. It is sort of implied. But to be a man, there are all these sets of rules you need to follow”

    This! Except I think reality has it differently! There must be a book of rules about what a woman must or not follow if society is to take them in. Not sure it comes close to the men’s rule book. 🙁

    Nice one Eddy! Happy birthday! And no, the sky is not anywhere close to your head yet. 🙂

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  26. Eat!!!…That is what men always do…you ask me eat what?,…I say eat ’em’ all food or “FOOD.”…… only men would know , Appetite is key

  27. Loved this read @EDDIE. Such a fun and warm read, plus the laughs….
    .” A man owns his flaws, and rocks them like a designer piece. Except in the case of a forehead. There’s no coming back from that one. It’s just…weird. ”
    I couldn’t come back from this, how the eff did you think of this . Day absolutely made, more ink to your pen Eddie. Thank you and Happy Belated Birthday Youngish Geezer

  28. This reminded me of conversations between Arya Stark and A man with no name in “Game of Thrones”. A man has no name….a man pays his debt, a man owes three….a man must go…a girl has secrets… etc

  29. Except when asked, “Who is Susan?’ or “Where is the saltshaker?” which to us sounds the same. Then here the standard response is, “I don’t know.”

    @EddyAshioya noma sana!

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  30. “A man understands that we can be called to serve our countries at any time…and that means joining an army. Whether it is the military or the salvation army, no need to split hairs, army is army.”

    Haven’t laughed this hard, in a long while!

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  31. “A man will not try to extend writing this piece just so he can meet the editorial guidelines. No. A man will pretend that his editor, who is also his boss, has watched The Joker and realized that it is very dangerous to undermine the underdog. A man is not threatening his editor. A man is just saying. ”
    The protege is quite the man.

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  32. whenever Biko mentions that he’s bringing in a guest writer I switch off,that’s how addicted I am to Biko’s writing

  33. Beautiful read.Being a man is hard or rather ,the stereotype of what being a man should be.
    Love the use of ‘ a man ‘ sounded like the game of thrones ‘ a girl’ from the vula magulis* guy.
    Also, being a woman is hard. Its not the assumed dotted straight forward line. I’ll just leave it at that

  34. I ditto what Irene said, thank God I am not a man. Next time I am wondering what is the world is he thinking I am going to re-read this post. I have a man, a good man, 54 years together and I still have not got into his, “nothing box”. One thing I will surely pass on to my man is from this post, learn how to play chess. This was a good read, goodness you are talented.