Tuesday, September 22

Red Lights, Green Lights for Diaspora Marriages: Part 2

NOT EVERY Diaspora couple lives in misery. Some marriages have flagged the green light and such families are very happy, productive and prosperous. Truth is, even though these women arrive in the US, shipped and packaged with specific designs, instructions, labels and an untagged sell-by date, not every imported wife fails in their relationship. If anything, some strive to succeed and do better than their sophisticated Americanized counterparts. An imported wife, like an imported car, is essential to the economic well-being of the man. The woman is highly attractive to the consumer, but is not available in the local market. If the wife behaves well and meets the owner’s expectations, demands and wallet, he will fuel her regularly, service her faithfully, show her off to his friends, play loud music in her ears and most importantly insure her and lock her safely with an alarm code in the garage every night. She boosts the man’s ego like a Viagra pill, bloats his self-esteem and gives him ownership and authority. She spoils him rotten like an over-ripe papaya and he comes to love and respect her in return. He avoids driving her on rough roads without a valid license, dangerous highways and jumping traffic lights. He may also recommend her to some of his most trusted friends. This is where the success of Kenyan men in the US, married to imported wives lie. The next criteria as is the general rule of importation is that goods like wives, cars and shoes that service domestic needs or wants can be produced less expensively or efficiently by other countries and therefore sold at lower prices. It is cheaper for a Kenyan man in America to transport a fresh indigenous woman from the village than to settle for one who is already domesticated. An authentic woman who has carried heavy sacks of potatoes on her back, balanced heavy pots of water on her head upstream, knows how to make a giant well- cooked ugali, one who dresses decently in winter and does not bare her wares like the prostitutes of Amsterdam’s red-light district and laughs quietly when he makes a joke fit the size.
“When you come to America to be a wife, do what has brought you here.”
Some of the men who preferred an imported woman from Kenya to the “Wajuaji” adulterated women in US told Tujipange KE that their line up criteria for prospective candidates include; innocence especially a virgin or a woman who has not had too much sex, humility; meaning not talking back when yelled at, average intelligence, University education a big NO, Form 4 school-leaver with at least a C- or D-plus, no weave on the hair, no children, the woman should not have a Bank account but if she does, it should not have more than Kshs500, she should not have flown on a plane before, a poor woman who has gone without meals for days and will appreciate her newly acquired status and has few words. Such a woman had a very successful marriage when she moved to America. They claim the amount of money a “Mjuaji” Kenyan woman in America expects for her needs to be maintained per month is equal to a return trip and full luggage and baggage for an imported wife from Kenya for a lifetime. “When you come to America to be a wife, do what has brought you here,” Becky Bilimbi, 26, was quite candid when she laid her bare heart to Tujipange KE in a telephone interview from Maryland. Becky is a Form 4 school leaver with a D- in Kenya Certificate of Education (KCE) from Mwisholami, Kenya. “When Mzee came for me, he was very clear what he wanted. He asked my church pastor to get for him a good girl who knows the Lord. I know the Lord and what he wants from me in my marriage. I agreed to cook for Mzee, wash his clothing, sew his torn underwear and socks, shave his head, stay indoors until Sunday when we go to church and make him happy.” “Mzee” is the pet name for Pritchard Papa, Becky’s 44-year-old husband who makes Hoagies at a Fresh Grocer’s store in Alexandria, Virginia. They have been married for 10 years and are both American citizens.
The way to an African man’s heart continues to remain the same.
A good wife, according to Becky, does not ask too many questions, like probing your man what time he will come back home, snooping through his bank account and phone, trying to sound clever and talking to strangers on the street. Also, do not address your husband by his first name or feign headaches when he demands his conjugal rights. Her motto is, ‘if you didn’t do it in Kenya, don’t do it in America.” “Mzee brings food, I remove his shoes and coat. I serve him hot ugali, mboga and chicken. There is so much chicken in America. An African wife knows that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Make his stomach satisfied. Let him belch and fart freely without judging him and he will love you. A husband’s fart should always smell sweet to his wife. Maneno mengi ya nini?” Becky and Papa’s story runs across several importee husbands who claim their marriages are heaven on earth, because they made the right choice.  They have bought a home, each has a car and medical insurance and their two children Abwao and Wangamiti attend good schools. “We are happily married and contented. We send help home. We share a joint account. We eat home-made meals and not take-away home-fries, dog meat, sijui what! You cannot get this kind of happiness from an Americanized Kenyan woman. Mama Wangamati is so wise she even discovered where to get mrenda in America, can you imagine? These other educated ones eh! They are full of headaches and politics. Headaches in the bedroom, headaches in the wallet, headaches everywhere. They will give you headaches and next you will die from high blood pressure and drug overdose,” Pritchard claims. Pritchard alleges an imported wife may eat you and leave some parts for police to find but a mutated Kenyan American woman will not just eat you but will finish you, swallow your bones and lick the dish. “Zimwi likujualo halikuli likakwisha,” Pritchard quotes a popular Swahili saying. While the scramble for imported wives continue sky-rocketing and Kenyan men in the diaspora retrace their footsteps back home to the same rivers they once bathed and urinated in, the women abroad are in equal measure upping their stakes. They are looking further than Kenyan men and casting their nets upon alternative viable waters – mostly white, African American, Hispanics, Latino, Indian and Chinese men. Does this work? Well, the story continues as the beat goes on. Stay on the page.    

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