Saturday, January 08, 2005

cities, oceans and time zones

1.0. A Sense Of Humour Will Prolong Your Life!




RELAX already.

Who wants to have a


Tulia nani.

Hata simba mkali anaenguruma mwituni alipoa na akatabasamu baada ya kupewa kahawa tungu amimine huku akitafuna kaimati na mairungi…

Ndugu msomaji, tuliza boli nawe…

Ama niaje tena?

I was only kidding dear reader.

Please do not get too upset.

But I do know OCCOs (short form for Obsessive Compulsive Clickers Online) when I meet them- and 87% of my readers are definitely afflicted with that 21st century contemporary insanity.

The remaining 13% knew all along that I was trying to fool them anyways.

So I knew from the get go that 100% of the people who clicked on the first link would end up here.

And yes, I am talking to you Geronimo Big Foot, and you Juanita Sasqwatch yes, you Mr or Ms. Nameless from Kenyan Forum X who claims all the time that you would not be caught dead trapped and wrapped up in the middle of one of my verbose mazes from this vicious and notorious serial digitalist. I should be imprisoned for my unprecedented essay writing spree don’t you think dear, long suffering Wasomaji?

2.0. Defying Stereotypes in an Age Obsessed Epoch

Without apologizing for my mischievous cyber red herring, let me briefly play a guessing game with you.

Yes, let us play Guess What?


Let’s go!

Here goes…

Can you guess….

How old this beautiful, gracious and remarkable woman pictured below is?

Is she…


Is she...


Is she…


Is she…


So what is your ball park figure?


Well, try…


That is right!

Meet Bertha Hagan, 104, a cook, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great- grandmother and great-great grandmother who resides in New York City.

I met her yesterday (Friday January 7, 2005) at a newsstand of an underground

station in western Montreal.

There she was in the middle of
Essence magazine.

3.0. A Riff on Human Dogs-Male & Female…

Yes I had just bought

the January issue of this African-American women’s magazine and I was leafing through it as I ambled downstairs to the level where the

STM trains on the

Orange line darted into the

heart of Centreville Montreal.

When I looked at the table of contents, of the current January 2005 edition of Essence I was further struck by one particular article dealing with the subject of "Man Sharing"”.

Sorry folks.

It is not available online.

Do not be a cheapskate.

Go out and buy the magazine.

If you want to read the article that is.

Here are two scans of the pages in question:

And here is a relevant quotation:

Here is a common scenario: You’ve been single for longer than you care to admit, and a brother finally walks into your life and rocks your world. He makes you laugh, has a college degree and a solid job, and most important, he’s single- or at least seems to be. A few months into your relationship, you begin to see that there is something wrong with Mr. Right. He stops spending weekends with you, becomes “too busy” to return your calls, and casually begins dropping the names of other women who are “just friends.” You suspect that your man is seeing his ex and possibly several other women too, but he’s not ’fessing up, and you don’t confront him. Instead, you tacitly begin man-sharing. It’s the rare sister who hasn’t been there, mired in a relationship that saps her dignity because she knows she’s not the only woman in her man’s life. Many of us enter relationships instinctively looking for evidence of another woman. And if it seems that the likelihood of being one is higher when dating Black men, it’s because research shows it’s true. A recent study conducted by University of Chicago sociologist and professor Edward Laumann suggests that Black men are more likely than White men to start sexual relationships with a new woman while maintaining physical relationships with old girlfriends, a practice Laumann calls concurrence or overlapping. In fact, the relationship overlapping period for White men lasted about ten days on average, while the overlap period for brothers spanned an average of 250 days, says Laumann, who published his findings in the book, The Sexual Organization of the City. Almost 40 percent of the African-American men Laumann surveyed admitted to maintaining long term sexual relationships with at least two women, a practice he calls serial polygamy…

Also cited in the article penned by

Ms. Taigi Smith


Audrey Chapman Relationship Expert and author of Man Sharing: Dilemma or Choice: A Radical New Way of Relating to the Men in Your Life who has the following observations:

“I did the first workshop on man sharing in 1982 because I felt that there was a crisis. Women were coming into my office depressed and in one case suicidal. These women complained that they were monogamous only to discover that the men they were seeing had not one woman but often two or three others on the side. I also counsel men to talk about their fear of commitment. Many have had a serious relationship fall apart, and they are devastated. Others were traumatized by the breakup of their parents. These men end up protecting themselves by not making any commitments at all…"

The above observations NATURALLY evoke the series of images that you are ogling after my googling:

But we must be fair in these gender wars.

Without using the misogynist and sexist laden “B” word, I must in all honesty ask the question:

Can human dogs of the male variety exist without a corresponding preponderance of canines in female form?

And the candid jawabu is NO! No Way Jose!(say it like this: “Ho-Say”).

There are millions, if not billions of human hounds who wear dresses, pumps and skirts, walking around with lip stick, mascara and eye shadow, so please ladies and gentlemen, do not get your knickers all twisted with my frank talk (and mixed metaphors).

”Where is the EVIDENCE???!”

I hear my female Wasomaji let out an enraged, frightening, collective growl, barking at me, sharp fangs bared, saliva dribbling at those aggressive jaws, in pre-attack mode, ready to leap out and chomp, biting poor old double oh into seventy seven tiny tattered and tarred bloody pieces.

But I defiantly stand my ground even as these marauding packs of blood sniffing female werewolves menacingly narrow the distance between themselves and their quarry, one digital essayist named Onyango Oloo.

Here I pounce back defiantly, presenting a
link to a forum for Black British women under the age of 25. Here I say. Look. This is what your own Black sisters are saying.

It is not as if it is a BIG SECRET OK?

In fact Essence magazine did a piece some time back about
women who cheat.

And by the way many of you PARTNERED sisters CHEAT A LOT ONLINE, at least according to this link.

A study conducted not too long ago found that:

Virtually all of the adulterous women interviewed in a recent survey said they cheat because they deserve all of the pleasure and thrills associated with a secret affair. Ninety percent of the cheating wives said they suffered absolutely "no guilt" but felt "entitled" to the good feelings they got, according to Susan Shapiro Barash, a professor and author, who randomly interviewed 120 women from a diversity of professional backgrounds, ages and races for a recent book on the issue.

And from the same site, I unearthed a slice of The Secret Lives of Wives which parallel eerily and wearily, the "overlapping" and " concurrence" alluded to in the Essence article.

So can we call a TRUCE in these demanding, daunting, never-ending, nerve wracking, and mind bending gender fender benders?

So, women and men (not leaving out the shemales and heshes in the crowd) let us chuckle and chortle instead as we ALL guffaw at our collective two timing, double crossing selves instead of pointing accusing fingers at each other.

I will now recycle a few tired jokes gleaned from the internet.

Do not feel obligated to

smile if you cannot detect a sense of humour in yourself.

After all, there is nothing actually wrong,TECHNICALLY with being

a Mirthless Stuffed Shirt or a

Headless Empty Suit for that matter.

Let us start with one of the oldest of them all, the inevitable comparison between Dogs and Men.

Now the men in the audience can get their back on the sisters by having one of their own reveal how Guys Actually Think.

Do they?

Is the catty cat call that I am going to ignore as I move right along to one of the most indispensable guides to modern dating.

Which in turn will segue into a useful online resource to assist Men in correctly answering the 5 Most Difficult Questions Women Ask.

Which must be read with this companion piece that counsels men on some very familiar relationship pitfalls to avoid.

4.0. Shorebirds and Jacanas: Should Kenyan Women Embrace Polyandry?

Is monogamy OVER RATED?

Should Kenyan women pursue polyandry?

Notice that I am not speaking to Kenyan men who already have legal multiple spouses in addition to their undeclared nyumba ndogos and ndogo ndogos.

You know people always talk about polygamy to mean the practice of men having more than one wife. But that is the SEXIST misinterpretation of the term.

Properly speaking polygamy is the practice of having more than one person you are married to whether you are male, female or shemale.

Strictly speaking when a man is married to more than one spouse it should be called polygyny.

Because yes,

a woman can have more than one husband you see.

And more than that polyandry is NOT restricted to the human species. Consider this snippet drawn from this

The mating of one female with more than one male while each male mates with only one female is known as polyandry (literally, "many males"). It is a rare mating system, occurring in less than one percent of all bird species, and is found mostly in shorebirds. Polyandry is often accompanied by a reversal of sexual roles in which males perform all or most parental duties and females compete for mates. The common pattern of sexual dimorphism is often reversed in polyandrous birds: the female is often larger and more colorful than the male. This reversal confused early biologists and led Audubon to mislabel males and females in all of his phalarope plates. Two types of polyandry have been documented: simultaneous polyandry and sequential polyandry. In simultaneous polyandry, each female holds a large territory containing the smaller nesting territories of two or more males who care for the eggs and tend the young. In our region, only Northern jacanas characteristically practice this form of polyandry. Females may mate with all of their consorts in one day and provide each male with help in defending his territory. A female will not copulate with a mate while their eggs are being incubated or during the first six weeks of the fife of the chicks. If a clutch is lost, she will quickly copulate with the broodless male and lay a new batch of eggs within a few days. A very rare variation on the preceding theme is "cooperative simultaneous polyandry," in which more than one male mates with a single female and the single clutch of mixed parentage is reared cooperatively by the female and her several mates. This arrangement occurs in some populations of Harris' Hawks and occasionally in Acorn Woodpecker groups. In sequential polyandry (the most typical form of this mating system), a female mates with a male, lays eggs, and then terminates the relationship with that male, leaving him to incubate the eggs while she goes off to repeat this sequence with another male.

Polyandry we are told:

In social anthropology, polyandry refers to a marital practice, a form of polygamy, which simply means "multiple spouses." Polyandry is the specific form of polygamy in which a woman has more than one husband simultaneously. Polyandry is less commonly encountered than polygyny, which refers to multiple wives. Polyandry is fairly common in Tibet, Zanskar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. It is also encountered in some regions of China (especially Yunnan), and in some Sub-Saharan African and American indigenous communities. With regard to these examples, it is important to bear in mind that the reference is to formally recognized marriage forms: there are no doubt those who live in de facto polyandrous arrangements that are not recognized by either law or custom. The anthropological classification and analysis of marriage forms begins with forms that are generally recognized by law or custom, and anthropologists are also interested in, but not concerned about the morality or suitability of, particular forms, conventional or otherwise The form of polyandry in which two (or more) brothers marry the same woman is known as fraternal polyandry, and it has been well established by many anthropologists that this is by far the most frequently encountered form.

If we look at contemporary society can we argue that divorce rates would plummet dramatically if both women and men were legally permitted to practice polyandry and polygyny respectively?

I mean, we know there is de jure and de facto polygyny on the part of us men and we know there is de facto, if not de jure clandestine polyandry being practiced by millions of women around the world including thousands of Kenyan women.

Is it time we dropped the hypocrisy and accepted our true doggish, doggy style loving canine natures once and for all?

Can Oprah do a show on this?

5.0. Oloo is Not a Relationship Expert!

You may be shocked to learn the following piece of information about Onyango Oloo. Every single day when I come home, I find an AVERAGE of fifteen to eighteen messages blinking at me in my voice mail. 76% of those messages are from my women friends. Some of them are right here in Montreal. Some are in Ontario. A few are in eastern Canada and a gaggle are to be found in isolated outposts in the United States and rarely a European message worms its way into my cluttered voice mail.

Without doing any further statistical breakdown let me just say this:

Quite a few of those messages have to do with Relationships.

Ever since

Ann Landers,the twin sister of the first Abby of

Dear Abby fame died I have mulled furiously the thought of being the new relationship guru administering sanctimonious platitudes to people who did not even ask for it.

I mean why not?

Why can’t I have my own show about relationships?

Think about it:

Live From Montreal! This is Onyango Oloo With a Communist Take On Conjugal Deception!

Just Kidding.

Seriously we are ALL RELATIONSHIP EXPERTS. The only qualification you need is to be a true EMPATHETC LISTENER. So, let me just revise the second last sentence to read, as long as you can listen sincerely and empathetically to a friend, neighbour, ex lover, co-worker or even perfect stranger, you have the ingredients of a counselor, relationship expert and life coach. The good thing is that you can also call on the services of millions of other relationship experts like yourself. You know the people you call your close friends?

This essay is NOT about giving advice on whether long distance relationships work or not.

There are people out there who have written books and built entire careers around this niche market of LDR(long distance relationships).

People like

Stephen Blake

In academia, the University of Missouri’s Counseling Center has a specific web page on their site dealing SPECIFICALLY with this topic.

Women who want to peer deeper and ever so closer and closer into the deranged and unhinged psyches of the male homo sapiens to discern their thoughts on the question of long distance relationships can click on this link if they are that curious, or if they have never come across a specimen of the species- whichever applies.

If you are in the throes of a Long Distance Relationship, here is a One Stop Shopping Center that will leave you very well equipped on the ins and outs of thriving while separated by oceans, mountains, time zones, languages and visa requirements from your loved one.

6.0. The Political Economy of Relationships- Near and Distant

The political economy tidbit is just a facetious hook to make you read on so just ignore those two words, OK?

Despite its jocular veneer, this digital essay is driven by a very serious motivation to grapple with a range of very complex matters that have been crossing my mind over the last sixteen months or so.

On a personal level I am in the middle of a committed loving relationship with a woman who lives eight hours away in terms of time zones, two days away in terms of plane rides and a life time already in terms of how long I have been waiting to be reunited with her under one roof here in Montreal We talk on the phone every single day, sometimes for eleven minutes, but often, like on Christmas Day, all night.

If you are like me, residing in North America and you are going to be in a long distance relationship with someone say in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe (or for that matter Italy, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Vanuatu, Kiribati or Laos) then the first thing you have to do is to block the long distance feature on your phone and do some serious research on which is the best phone card to call Mombasa, Nairobi, Nyahururu, Wajir, Marsabit, Lunga Lunga. I could offer all day seminars on which cards to avoid like the plague because they will promise you 60 minutes to Kenya guaranteed only to inform you brightly as soon as you have finished dialing the last digit of that Kencell number that you can speak up to seven minutes; I can identify the swindler companies that sell you cards that eat up your minutes if you do not hang up after forty five seconds and when you call them angrily, they rudely blast you for being so stupid wondering what kind of a demented dimwit you are, calling a mobile number in Africa of all places, kwani you did not know that THEIR CARDS do not reach cell phones in Kenya, especially, wewe mjinga? Then you have the cards that are so popular that you will never get through at certain times because everybody and their pet parakeet are dialing at the same time as you are. Worst of all are the phone cards which give you excellent service in terms of minutes, luring into this false sense of security that will compel you to stupidly stock up with two dozen or so and then one day when you think, "Yes! This is the night for an extended, steamy phone sex session!" you find out to your shock that those fly by night ding bats have gone bankrupt and will come back to the market next week as a brand new corporate outfit.

As an active participant in a LDR, I have obviously some thoughts to share in this regard.

I also have tons of friends who do not live in the same continent as their lovers so we have some kind of informal network of lovers who are separated by oceans and time zones if not mere state and provincial boundaries.

Some of these friends have taken it to the next level.

One of these friends conceived a few years ago a child with a man she met on the internet. She is now happily married somewhere in the British Isles.

Another pal of mine also got hitched to this wonderful American guy who eventually turned out to be Mr. Right after placing all her trust in what I mistakenly thought at the time to be a slightly shady online dating service but has turned out to be the best thing which happened to her. Sorry, I will not tell you which dating service it was. Keep googling, dear lonely hearts.

Those are the good news tales.

The flip side consists of friends of mine from both ends of the gender spectrum who have been dumped via SMS, double crossed via email and cheated via hard core porn pay sites that they only found out about after breaking into their lover’s internet accounts. I have three friends who are currently being stalked by long distance ex lovers they met in chat rooms (won’t say if those chat rooms were Kenyan or not).

The bulk of the cases however consist of people who are somewhere in between:

From friends who are wondering how long you can date someone via the telephone, email, text message and the private messages before you hop on the plane and do the nasty with them (or even if in fact you are the person who should go over in the first place) to other friends who are debating the pros and cons of open ended relationship in a practical context where NEITHER partner is contemplating moving to the locale of their loved one. Questions arise such as:

Can you actually go out there and sleep with someone in your town when you have your primary relationship with someone halfway across the world from you?

And if you do, should you tell the other person?

How much should you tell them?

Does the fact that YOU choose to share OBLIGATE them to start blabbing, spilling the beans about their own local romantic indiscretions?

How do you confront

"O beware, my lord, of
jealousy; It is the green eyed
monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on"

Shakespeare, Othello

How does one deal with the centuries old question of Jealousy in a long distance relationship?

Is there a case for hiring an experienced ex Mafia hitman to TAKE OUT your lover if you find out that he has been dogging you all along?

That you are not the only person in their lives?

If you do hire that hitman, have you done enough research about the existing extradition treaties between your country of residence and that of your soon to be deceased long distance romantic partner?

Have you retained a competent lawyer who can defend you successfully in a first degree murder case?

Globalization, the digital breakthroughs of the scientific and technological revolution, political uncertainty and nagging socio-economic pressures have had a secondary but very profound effect on spouses, partners ex lovers and just plain fuck buddies. We all know (if we are not that person that is) someone whose wife works in Australia while he is based in Windhoek, Namibia. We all know the weekend father in Bristol who is trying to get back with his first ex wife living currently in Lima, Peru; we know of the Toronto student who is giving it up to her political science professor even as she frets about her “fiancé” in Muranga getting hitched to that rich divorcee in Runda; we know of the refugee claimant father of six in Ottawa who lives with someone’s wife even as they list both of their spouses for eventual family reunification in the PIF refugee forms as soon as they get their jwalas, their makaratasi, their papers; we know of the woman in Jersey City or Minneapolis (by the way, all these are IMAGINARY examples) who is getting stroked by her sister’s husband in the house where her sister brought her to after sponsoring her single handedly from Kenya where she left the father of her son who still loved her to death but was too poor to support her. And I do not want to scandalize anybody by giving any details about the boyfriends and girlfriends in America who are posing nude for mighty Africa dot com even as their lovers wait patiently for the invitation which will never arrive in the mail. How about the part time sex workers in Canada whose partners back in Kenya will never suspect that the source of those regular Western Union infusions of Maple Leaf muthendi is located in their partner's pudenda?

Having lived in North America for close to twenty years now I have seen dozens of my friends adopt a
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy as in if you are in Canada do not ask what your man or woman in Kenya is doing and Don’t Tell Them What You are Doing.

I still vividly recall the terror captured in one of the eyes of one of my good Swahili Muslim friends a few years ago. For years, my friend had lived quite openly with a ravishing beauty from one of those South East Asian countries (Vietnam, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia one of those). Then abruptly he decided to go home and “import” a young bikra mwanamwali from somewhere in the Coast Province (no it is not Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu, Voi or Kilifi so there!), also a stunning beauty. One day I am walking near the Eaton Centre at Yonge and Dundas and I see my friend arm in arm, slowly, majestically window shopping with his imported spouse. We meet abruptly and since I did know the other woman quite well, I cannot clamp shut my gaping mouth quickly enough. Of course the man need not have feared. I say hi enthusiastically to the newly married couple as the man introduces me to his new wife. This is not the place to say anything further as to what the other woman told me when I ran into HER later….

So do long distance relationships work?

First of all, these space and time challenged entanglements are not monolithic and therefore one cannot afford to make sweeping statements.

Secondly, there is actually no Relationship Manual as such.

Thirdly, I firmly believe that it is NOT up to long distance relationships, in and of themselves to work or fail to work.

People make their relationships work, whether they wake up to their partners bad breath every morning or if they frantically stock up on long distance cards every week.

It is a cliché, but in my experience, constant, open, frank and ongoing TWO WAY communication is the crucial ingredient.

The ability to talk over, talk through and talk about matters near and dear to both partners is a cornerstone of that communications strategy. Both partners must listen more than they talk, which means that they will take turns listening and talking.

Also the physical separation is actually a boon to explore all those aspects that people take for granted when they are physically cohabiting with their lover or spouse.

How about exploring each other’s minds every night(or as frequently as you can) instead of just your genitals?

You learn of each other’s life passions, philosophical and religious outlooks; ideas around parenting and so forth in a long distance relationship if you are both willing to put these issues on the table.

Your long distant partner is your ally, your comrade, your support person when you have heard a terrible day at work and of course you are there for her when she is feeling down, frustrated or discouraged.

She tries her proposal ideas and business plans on you first; she is your sounding board on your short story synopsis…

In my particular case I find that I have been privileged to go out with someone who is not only a world away geographically, but also a world apart ideologically and politically. She is a born again, pro-life Christian who supports Bush whereas I am...slightly different shall we say.

Instead of this being an unbridgeable chasm, it has on the contrary provided one of the strongest glues to our relationship as I remind myself that a very big chunk of Kenyans are like her. The fact that she has embraced me as a Communist who is openly an atheist to me attests to her tolerance and open mindedness….

This was not geared to be a peak into my personal diary so I will end it there.

Not because I want to but because my shoulders need a rest from all this keyboarding.

Onyango Oloo


Alexander said...

I am... well, impressed is too little. Ravished. One of your best (and most entertaining) essays in a long time. A beacon of reason in the fog of hypocrisy. And very humane, as usual.

Thank you !


Onyango Oloo said...


thank you very much for that positive feedback. i have appreciate your other frank and forthright interventions over the last twelve months. it makes all those red eye nights when we are strangers to our beds worthwhile. as to the subject matter itself,the irony has been is that it is probably the number one preoccupation in my personal life right now and the other day it just hit me:

how come i am writing about tsunamis, globalization, big pharma and what have you and i have not jotted down some of my reflections on the one issue that i spend more time discussing with other people- my fiance, my best friends, my ex lovers, my co-workers, people i meet on the internet,etc than all of the topics i have grappled with in my essays comined?

so i said, let me take a stab at it. and of course, with all matters personal, there is always that kidogo sense of vulnerability or is vunelarabity (just checked, it is the former). but with me also, i do hang my heart on the cliche ridden sleeve, so i said what the heck, let me go for it...

onyango oloo
montreal said...

By far it is one of the most impressive pieces I've seen in some time but the zones, I am a little confounded about.
Thanks for not cheating us!

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