I don’t know any Nigerians personally, but I know one Nigerian, which isn’t quite like knowing a Nigerian because this Nigerien doesn’t wear loafers and tight trousers that don’t reach his ankles.



I have never been to Nigeria either and if I never go it’s not something I will regret. Senegal, I will regret, if I never go. Maybe even Swaziland. Of course I have received, once or thrice via email, messages purporting that some dead wealthy man I have never met has left a great deal of inheritance for me. I think that’s the most interaction I have had with Nigerians.



I have also sighted Nigerians in mall in their trademark track bottoms and sandals with white socks asking in booming voice asking, “Is this lift going down-oo?”



So you will excuse me if I was a bit apprehensive and excited at finding myself seated with not one, but two Nigerian women! One works here and the other just moved here from the USA.



I was meeting them because one of them – the one who works here and have spoken to on email and met once for business had asked me to meet her friend who is a fan and needed to buy my book.



The moment they arrived and sat down, the one from the States said, “Let me tell you som’tin abot Kenyan men.” I wasn’t even prepared. I stared at her.



“Kenyan men are just not memorable!” Her friend laughed and said, “Arrh, you don’t even let the man breathe first-oo!” She wasn’t having any of that.



While trying to find the hook to hang her purse from under the table she said, “But why are you Kenyan men like that, eh? Why are you like that? Excuse me, excuse me, do you not have hooks on these tables, ma’am?” The waiter said, there were no hooks on the table.



I wanted to tell her that it was OK, she could place her purse at her feet; I wasn’t the kind of Kenyan man who would steal her purse. She was wearing that kind of hairstyle that I believe is called a bob.




Her friend also had the same hairstyle which threw me off base because on Afrocinema they all wear these dreadful weaves which they sometimes remove when chasing a taxi or are angry. Which seems all the time, if you ask me.



“You men don’t dress well at all, to begin with,” she continued. “What is it, eh?” I had been in the house the whole day because I had a flu, so I simply threw on a jumper and jeans to meet them. I said, “I have a flu, which explains this jumper. You should catch me when I’m not under the weather. But I don’t wear those pants that don’t touch ankles.” She laughed and said, “Nigerian men dress well. They make effort. A man leaves the house and he looks and smell good. Here you meet a man on a date and he’s wearing sneakers! Sneakers!! What is it, eh?” (I loved how she kept saying, “What is it, eh?” not as a question but as an exclamation.)



She ordered a cocktail. Her friend also ordered a cocktail. “Jackson, excuse my friend here, that’s how she is,” her friend said.



She said, “What? He is a writer, he needs to tell Kenyan men the truth.” She then held my hand and said in a grave voice, “And you people are not courteous! The other day, I and a bunch of other people were standing outside an elevator waiting and this man, this man abeg, just comes and pushes his way when the elevator comes. He doesn’t say excuse me, he just pushes us out of the way and me I speak my mind.



I’m Yoruba. I said, “Excuse me! Ey Ey, exchoose me! Are we not people?? Are we not people? Is this how you men treat women here? Pushing them like goats? Eh? What is it?”



Anyway she had a litany of grievances. We don’t open doors. We don’t dress up for dates or for ourselves. We are rough towards women. We are discourteous. Her friend nodded in agreement as she read this long list of ills. Her friend said she’s lucky she’s already married (to a Nigerian) because she doesn’t know how “Kenyan women survive with you Kenyan men.” (Truth is, they don’t. They moan about us louder than Nigerian women.)



She said she has been working in the country for six months and she has only been impressed with two men. (I’m not one of them, as you might already suspect.) I sat there and listened without saying much. (“Are you Igbo or Yoruba?” Is the longest question I asked the whole evening.)



She was dramatic and funny and hysterical and louder than even her hair. But I liked her feisty spirit. She was an entertainer.



What broke my heart though was her assertion that we are “not memorable.” I think that’s the lowest we can ever get as Kenyan men.



Much lower than wearing tight pants that don’t reach our ankles, I assume.

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