I was saddened by how Kenyans received the best news I have heard this year. One of the women nominated to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Cabinet is a journalist, a woman whose hard work and determination not only propelled her to the highest echelons of media leadership, but straight to the Cabinet.
Minutes after she was appointed, Kenyans, especially men, dug into her past and reminded us of an incident we would all rather forget. If Kenyan men pursued their careers and businesses with the same zeal they used to dig up her past, Kenya would be a great country.
Here is a woman who held an impressive portfolio as a media manager in one of Kenya’s most successful media organisations. This is not a TV bimbo we are talking about; this is a woman who had a sterling career spanning decades, commanding respect from all quarters; a woman who was courageous and walked tall, her chin up, in the face of adversity.
This woman has impeccable academic credentials; a Bachelor of Science degree, an MBA and with a PhD in the pipeline. She has proven herself over the years as an experienced and seasoned manager.
But all that myopic Kenyan men did was to reduce her achievements to one particular incident using shallow excuses like “the Internet never forgets”.
Kenyan men can stand many things; including the numerous injustices perpetrated in this society, but nothing terrifies them more than the sight of a woman who is sure of herself, of what she wants in life and one who is forging seriously towards her goals.
Kenyan men hate ambitious and successful women. They cannot stand a female CEO, or a female boss for that matter. They cannot stand a female president.
They cannot even stand wives who are more successful than themselves. My question is; if a successful woman intimidates you, why should God give you a successful daughter?
In Kenya, when a woman is more successful than her male peers, the men become so jealous that they will try to rationalise her success. They will try to “explain away” why she is doing better than they are. How dare she become more successful than I, yet we shared a class in campus? They wonder.
They will automatically assume that she must have had the help of a “sponsor”— preferably a man with whom she exchanged something in kind. They generally do not believe that among us, there are brilliant, hard-working women who do an honest day’s job, make their own money and get rewarded based on their brilliance.
A Kenyan man would rather marry a bimbo (yes, there are those among us too) than marry a woman whose IQ is higher than his. Sad but true.
It is a belief among many a Kenyan man that for a woman to achieve success — and I mean massive success — it must have been the result of her interaction with a tajiri or matajiri.
They always think “behind every successful woman is a man” which, fortunately, could not be further from the truth. Women can become successful in their own right and earn big positions in government — and the private sector — by virtue of their brains and hard work.
The biggest shame, however, is that we as society cannot allow people to enjoy the fruits of their hard work without bringing up skeletons from their past. We especially have this very bad habit of crucifying women in power by using their past against them.
Who does not make mistakes in life? Do you have a manual of how to live from day to day? Where were you all these years as they worked hard or did you suddenly remember that they have a past now that they are successful?
I am really tired of the double standards we apply when assessing women in power versus their male counterparts. It appears that men are allowed to make mistakes, and when they become successful and powerful, we forgive them and rationalise their mistakes.
But if a woman dares to rise from a dark past to do something even remotely good with her life, we focus on everything else except her achievements.
I have a message to the weak, unsuccessful Kenyan men who are drowning in bile because a woman outsmarted them. If you are man enough, don’t just tweet and tell us about the skeletons in that powerful woman’s closet. Tell us also about those in the powerful men’s closets as well. Then we see if you will live to tweet tomorrow.