Here’s the most abused word in men’s vocabulary

strong man

It’s because of the word strong that a man will work his fingers to the bone and sacrifice his time and talents so he can pay the black tax.

Photo credit: Samuel Muigai | Nation Media Group

Strong. A word used by men to encourage one of their own who's down in the dumps. Strong. An exhortation used by brothers and bodybuilders to raise the morale of a brother who’s pumping weights - literal and figurative - and support him to complete that one impossible task.

Strong. A word that has unknowingly led some men to early graves. In my opinion, strong is one of the most abused words in men’s vocabulary. As men, when we are urged to be strong, we may be dying, yet we won’t cry out for help.

Like we are in the Coliseum fighting for our dear lives, we will keep going at the roaring lion and taking in its deadly claws and teeth, as the crowd cheers us on. Nope. We will not tell our corner to throw in the towel.

Strong is a word (and state of being) which dissuades us from confessing our weaknesses. Stoicism is the biggest silent killer of some men. A good number of men uncomplainingly endure intolerable hardships and abuses - at home and in the office - because they are putting others first.

Safe spaces and shoulders

Without safe spaces and shoulders, men put on sura ya kazi - a business face - although, inwardly, they are hurting like hell.

Here’s some homework. Ask any man how they are doing, and, even if they are on the verge of death, they will say they are doing just fine. Greet any man on the street, even if you know life is handing him the beating of a lifetime, he will reply, “Niko poa”.

Niko fiti, bro.” “Niko strong ki-soldier.” Those are our usual replies, even if we’re standing at the edge of a precipice. Society has conditioned us to pretend; to hide our innermost feelings, especially if they point toward real or perceived weakness.

Here’s what folks do not see. (Or they can see but have decided to turn blind blinkers). This man is trying as best as he can to be strong, yet all the strength is gone from him. All that’s left are fumes. Fumes that can make him implode when he’s had the last straw. And that’s when folks will exclaim: “Damn! What in the world just happened? We never saw that coming.”

It’s because of the word strong that a man will work his fingers to the bone and sacrifice his time and talents so he can pay the black tax. This man wants to be strong for the family, although, in the process, they are getting fatter while he’s being fleeced like a merino.


It’s the rare man - and the stronger one - who confesses that he is weak. I’ve learnt that to confess I am weak does not take anything from manhood. It takes away part of the weight that’s killing me. And, in case number two hits the fan, folks will not point accusing fingers at my erstwhile strong self and say: “You said nothing, man”.

This phenomenon often occurs in the gym when a man refuses support, claiming he is strong, and he can do squats with the weight of, say, a pickup truck. Other men will just shrug, “You brought it on yourself, Boddie; you declined support.”

Support. That’s the new word in my vocabulary. It’s the word I’m trying to get used to. Getting support does not mean I am taking advantage of other men’s resources.

It means I am making good use of their goodwill and grace to deal with issues plaguing me. It means I am making use of their strength to grow my muscles. And when I am done, I pay it forward.