Why Kenyan Husbands Are Missing Barmaids amidst Corona Curfew

Kenyan Barmaid at work

Kenyan wives are infamously famous for two things- sulking and nagging. How men are stuck up with these joy sucking creatures amidst this pandemic is an enigma.

Before the world was slapped by this epidemic, Money, sex, soccer and liquor, in no particular order, were the top four things on the minds of an archetype Kenyan man.

That’s why men would go to the local pub after work to watch soccer or discuss a business deal over a bottle or two of their favorite drink, and get a quick lay before coming home with a kilo of roasted meat.

Now, it’s at these local joints where wives’ biggest threats lurked with wanton abandon- the barmaids. Yes, the women who still wear petticoats, bikers and recycled weaves and plies their trade in a village pub or an Eastlands hood like Umoja. The curvaceous yet average looking mamas who are ever cheerful, treat men with empathy, have mastered them like a craft and fathom how to deal with them.

These barmaids know all the cops in the area, gang members, day preachers-cum-wizards and estate sluts. That barmaid might have three children with different men, and cannot spell her name, but she can still get your husband’s attention like the skilled professionals they are and who wives love to hate.

That’s where they beat the long-suffering wives hands down. A man walks into his house from work, tired to the bones and hungry after a long day of toil in the office. His ungrateful and ill-mannered wife could care less about the poor soul that hauls the bacon for the family. She will never care to notice whether her man has had a hectic day, instead, she’ll be engrossed on her phone busy gossiping on WhatsApp and giggling at balderdash from fellow demented women on those scandal thirsty Facebook groups.

She’ll briefly lift her head up and nonchalantly say, “Food iko kwa microwave ka unajiskia” and continue focusing on her phone. But when the man walks into the local, he’s welcomed like a king by the barmaid. Her disarming smile and concern about his welfare and day are irresistible for a man harassed by life and ignored by the wife. The first thing the barmaid says is “leo umechoka sana (you look so tired)” and proceeds to ‘baby’ him and serves him with an aura of sweetness and humility.

Oh, and they have an opinion about everything. Two intellectuals might be arguing over whether Bill Gates and his ‘experts’ are just being typical imperialists when they give their projections on the effect of Covid-19 on Africans and when she shares her unsolicited opine, a simple “mi najua hii kitu tutatoboa,’ (I know we will surmount this epidemic) will suffice to end the argument between the two gentlemen.

These women have mastered the art of stroking a man’s ego, the number one weakness of men that wives have failed to take advantage of. A man will scream in drunken induced rage: “I asked for a Tusker and you brought me Guinness. I am not paying for this!”

With a smile, she takes away the opened Guinness bottle. A coy smile lights up her face and gets a Tusker bottle for ‘his highness’ and mumbles a fake apology. At the end of the night, the man will pay for the very beer he swore he will not pay for and he heavily tips her — a tip so generous it could buy three more Tuskers. Dare complain to a wife over a poorly cooked meal and she will be plotting how to mix grounded steel wool in your stew.

See, these barmaids know how to build rapport with customers. They know when a man is broke and how to cheer him up. Besides offering pints on credit for the man to drown his sorrows, they are pretty good listeners too. Barmaids hear all the problems that bedevil men, problems that their beloved wives will never hear. Chances are wives are told fiction each time their husbands come home with their cars smashed. But barmaids know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth because they are sympathetic listeners, nonjudgmental and providers of the world’s most renowned balm — alcohol.

But what do wives do? They become aggressive, abusive even, at the slightest of whiff of a broke man. That’s when they sleep in coveralls to dissuade the man from entertaining any thoughts of touching her. Even if the woman has a pretty stash somewhere, she would rather buy a Sh5k wig than loan the guy Sh100 for the family’s ugali-Sukuma dinner.

If it any consolation to the wives, men never discus mama watotos with the barmaids. Men go to pubs to make merry and forget. Forget that their functionally illiterate boss howls and barks all day, to forget that the bank loan is due and money has decided to eschew him and to forget that Mama Jayden coils like a millipede and hisses like a snake every time he tries to touch her.

And unlike madam of the house, whose lips are set in a permanent sneer from morning to sunset, how barmaids love to flirt! Even when the man is drunk, the barmaid would actually keep the money and other valuables and return them back in one piece the following day; unlike the mama at home who is likely to rummage through her drunken husband’s pockets to steal money or incriminating evidence.

It is a little wonder that when the man gets paid, the first beneficiary would be the barmaid. But when the wife asks for money for milk for the children, the man rudely remind her that money does not grow on trees! It is because the barmaid treats him well. And the tip he gives her is reciprocated in kind.

A friend shared that tipping barmaids cements friendship, and when barmaids are your friends, you suffer no harm in their pubs. They will beat up women who want to lace your drinks, protect you from pickpockets and when you are too drunk, they chase you out of the bar and ensure you board a trusted taxi back home.

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    Written by Paulette Gweth

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