A world where social norms don’t weigh us down anymore


More men are studying hairdressing and beauty, going on to either establish their own businesses in this sector or seeking employment in this field.

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Sometime this week while doing some last-minute shopping at the local shopping centre, I spotted two women standing next to a mutura seller’s stand. They were busy eating the delicacy, which had been served on a wooden chopping board, with some salt and kachumbari on the side.

Looking at them, they were clearly enjoying this treat because they were shoving the fat pieces into their mouths with glee. It was around 7.30 pm, and going by the shopping bags at their feet, they were probably on their way home. It struck me that there was a time when a mutura stand was strictly a man’s domain.

Men would gather around one, either solo or in twos, and they would line their bellies with this African sausage, the solo man holding a newspaper securely under an armpit before contentedly strolling home, where, as a cheeky friend once quipped, they would plead a stomachache when their wives served them githeri or plain sukuma wiki with ugali and go to bed.

Now here were women, standing at the very spot that has been a preserve for men for years, partaking of the laboriously prepared meal. I, however, observed a marked difference between what the women did when they finished eating, and what the men I had observed over the years did when they were done.

 The women asked the man roasting the mutura to cut up each of them a sizeable piece, which he wrapped and handed them. They both then proceeded to put the small package in their bigger packages before leaving.

My assumption was that this was for their children. This is not to say that men don’t remember their wives and children back home when they’re having a good time, I’m simply referring to an observation I’ve made over the years.

I’d made a similar observation when the only fast food joints in the city were the then popular Kenchic fast food restaurants, where it was common to see men enjoying a ‘ka-quarter’ chicken in the evening after work before taking a matatu home.

Do you also recall those good old days when the butchery was a man’s domain? When buying meat for the family was the man’s duty?

Speaking of change, I have also realised that more and more women are keeping hardwares. Where I live, almost all the hardwares around are run by women, and they are prosperous looking businesses if I may add.

When I was growing up, this business was almost exclusively run by men, at a time when it was assumed that women knew nothing about cars or how they operated, or that they couldn’t tell the difference between a nut and a bolt. But that was then, nowadays, there are no jobs exclusively for men, and those that are purely a woman’s.

Which explains why more and more men are studying hairdressing and beauty, going on to either establish their own businesses in this sector or seeking employment in this field. Men have, in fact, excelled so much in this space, that they have almost taken over the nails business from women, and are determined to conquer the business of hair too.

Clearly, we’re living in a world with no limitation, where it is a choice to allow social norms to limit what you can or cannot do.

The writer is editor, of Society and Magazines, Daily Nation. Email: cnjunge@ ke.nationmedia.com